The grieving Ukrainian community gathered at the Saint-Sophie Orthodox Cathedral on Saint-Michel Boulevard on Tuesday evening to celebrate the memory of Maria Legenkovska, who was fatally struck by a driver on her way to school last week. . Calling the drama an “unintentional crime”, his mother said she did not blame the driver.
“He also has his family and I don’t want him to suffer too much in this situation,” said Galyna Legenkovska, through a translator, at the end of a press conference held before the ceremony.
Just before, she had taken several minutes to thank one by one a long list of organizations and people who came to the aid of her family, from the police to the staff of the Sainte-Justine hospital, including the Government of Canada. . “I was very surprised and deeply touched by the reaction of the Quebec community,” said the bereaved mother.
“Not hundreds, but thousands” of people sent her messages of support, she revealed, reading a message in French.
My heart is torn by this immense loss. It is impossible to describe my condition just with words. But today, I feel the incredible warmth that comes from Canadians’ words of support.
Galyna Legenkovska, mother of Maria
A crowdfunding campaign launched shortly after last week’s tragedy had raised more than $153,000 a week later, “to help cover funeral arrangements” and support the family.
From the eastern front of Ukraine, where he was fighting Russian troops, her husband, Andrii Lehenkovskyi, was able to make the trip to Montreal in time for the child’s funeral. He plans to stay there “two or three months” before returning to Ukraine to defend his hometown. The family wishes to bury Maria in the country and continue life in Canada despite everything.
“I hope that the soul of little Maria will beg God to protect all children so that they no longer know the horrors of war and the loss of their loved ones,” concluded Galyna Legenkovska.
For members of the Ukrainian community in Montreal, this tragedy represents a blow, especially in the context of the war in their country, testified the Reverend of the neighboring Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ihor Oshchipko.
“It’s a tragedy, but for the people in general too, because it goes beyond the nationals,” he added before entering for the ceremony. “We’re going to do everything we can for the family. »
The ceremony began with songs, sung in choir in the cathedral. Then the priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sophia, Volodymyr Kouchnir, took the floor, mainly in Ukrainian, to underline the memory of Maria.
The latter had only met the mother and her three children once before the tragedy, during a Sunday mass.
A heartbreaking decision
The Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Montreal, Eugene Czolij, then spoke of the “multiple atrocities” committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, including “rapes, forced adoptions of Ukrainian children and evacuations”. He wanted to provide some insight into the context in which young Maria’s parents made the decision that her mother, brother and sister would move to Canada.
Then, the vast majority of those present lined up to offer condolences to the bereaved parents.
Remember that last Tuesday, as she was walking to school in the borough of Ville-Marie, like so many other students in Quebec, Maria Legenkovska, 7, was mowed down by a motorist who did not did not stop after the collision.
The driver who allegedly hit Maria, Juan Manuel Becerra Garcia, 45, surrendered the same day at a police station on the South Shore of Montreal, after which he was charged with a fatal hit and run at the courthouse Montreal, where he used the services of a Spanish interpreter.
The official funeral of young Maria will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Alfred Dallaire funeral complex, not far from Sainte-Sophie Cathedral.