Amid devastating conflict in Ukraine, the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, took time earlier this week to address the university community in Canada. The virtual event was hosted by the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. During his address President Zelenskyy remarked how much his country’s circumstances have changed since the last time he paid a visit to the university in 2019. Despite this, his address remained optimistic and thankful for the support Ukraine has received from Canada’s government and university communities.
“We are prepared to surprise the world,” he remarked. “By bringing together and uniting, you do things that seem to be impossible.”
Achieving the impossible, together
As war broke out, Canadian university staff, students and faculty banded together to help raise funds and secure supports for affected students and scholars.
The measures taken by universities across Canada are many: waiving application fees, extending deadlines, organizing fundraising efforts and offering robust mental health and financial supports. The University of Manitoba and the University of Toronto, for example, have each pledged up to $1 million to support students impacted by the war in Ukraine. Similarly, New Brunswick’s St. Thomas University introduced a free tuition program for students from conflict zones, while Ontario’s Western University is offering displaced Ukrainian students free access to its MBA program.
The university community also took creative measures to help those on the ground in Ukraine. At McGill University, experts in trauma surgery and interactive learning developed a multimedia education program to teach Ukrainian healthcare workers basic lifesaving procedures that can be done by non-surgeons. This is an invaluable resource for those fighting for their freedom.
Thanks to these and many more efforts across Canadian institutions, numerous Ukrainian students and scholars have been able to continue their education, gaining the knowledge they will need to help rebuild their lives and revitalize their home country.
“I would like to thank the Canadian government and leaders of universities for making opportunities available for Ukrainian students and supporting them.” – President Zelenskyy
Keeping the global conversation going
During the virtual appearance, President Zelenskyy underscored the importance of informing the world about the events in Ukraine and making sure their situation stays top-of-mind.
“Information, sometimes, can deal a bigger blow than a weapon.” – President Zelenskyy
He thanked the university community for what’s been done to spread awareness on the war in Ukraine. Many universities have hosted forums and round tables, provided expert commentary in the media or held important classroom discussions. He urged students, staff and faculty to continue these efforts.
We’re here to support
All universities represented at President Zelenskyy’s address voiced their steadfast support for Ukraine. Most importantly, they’ve demonstrated their willingness to put words into action and support the people who need it.
“On behalf of our entire university community, we stand behind you and all Ukrainians in your courageous fight for freedom and democracy.” – University of Prince Edward Island
About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.
Assistant Director, Communications