I know that the people of Ottawa and Canadians from across the country are horrified by the atrocities we are witnessing in Ukraine, as Russia continues to show a blatant disregard for the international rule of law, destroying peace and security in the region.

Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes, while others stay and fight against the Russian occupation of their communities.

Ukrainian society is defined by a love of freedom and democracy, and I know we have all been inspired by the bravery of the citizens, the soldiers, and the leaders of Ukraine.

I’m proud that Canada is home to the world’s third largest Ukrainian diaspora, with almost 1.4 million citizens of Ukrainian descent.

Canadians stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and we continue to do what we can to support those impacted by this growing humanitarian crisis.

Just a few weeks ago, I met with Mr. Andrii Bukvych, the Chargé d’Affaires at the Ukrainian Embassy in Canada, outside of the Russian Embassy at the corner of Charlotte Street and Laurier Avenue, to put up street blades that read “Free Ukraine Libre” as a symbolic gesture of support for its people and as a daily reminder to those living at the Embassy that Ottawa stands with Ukraine.

That same day, I wrote to The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, to advise that the City of Ottawa is prepared to help out in welcoming the eventual influx of refugees from across Ukraine.

Work and dialogue on this front are ongoing and I want to thank the federal government for their collaboration to date.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Ottawa residents and businesses for their support from the very beginning.

While struggling to recover from the pandemic, residents and businesses in Ottawa are raising funds and donating proceeds from sales to the Canadian Red Cross and other organizations helping Ukrainians on the ground.

That’s the Canadian way – and I’m so proud of it.

A great example of the community coming together to support Ukrainian relief efforts is Atlético Ottawa’s “Pay What You Can” initiative at their April 9th home opener in the Canadian Premier Soccer League against Cavalry FC.

Last week, I joined Mr. Bukvych and Jeff Hunt from the team to unveil Atleti’s special jerseys ahead of the match and to promote this generous initiative that will support Ukrainian humanitarian aid via the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

Funds will be raised through ticket sales and a province-wide 50/50 draw. Tickets can now be purchased at this link.

I look forward to seeing the people of Ottawa at TD Place for this exciting match!

Let’s go Atleti!