A Quebec mother celebrates the sacrifice of her son killed in combat in Ukraine | War in Ukraine
Émile-Antoine Roy-Sirois died in Ukraine on July 18, 2022, while at the front in Donbass.< /p>
Since the start of the war, at least three Canadians have died on the battlefield in Ukraine. A Quebec mother, whose son never returned, asks not to forget them.
He is one of thousands of foreign fighters who have left to help defend the country against the Russian invasion. Émile-Antoine Roy-Sirois was not, however, a soldier. He had studied philosophy and was working in sales in a Montreal company, in the winter of 2022.
A week after [the start of the war], he started talking about leaving, says his mother, Marie-France Sirois. It touched him, he came with tears in his eyes. I could see it was coming for him, it was crazy.
She describes her son as a nice person, who made it a point to denounce injustice. Images of Ukrainian civilians under bombardment, especially children, were unbearable to him.
When he was little, he lived through bullying, remembers Marie-France. He became a big guy, but I think he remained […] the little boy who wished there were more people around to protect him.
Marie-France Sirois and her son, Émile were very close, as if “in symbiosis”, she says.
Several family members tried to dissuade him from going to the front, in vain. There is nothing that could convince him, that could make him change his mind, let his mother down.
Within a few weeks, Émile quit his job and under – rented his apartment in the city center. He left for Ukraine on March 27.
En route, the Quebecer saw that he was not the only one to make this journey.
< p class="e-p">I would have liked to know Émile longer, explains James, a young American. We met in Poland. I saw his camouflage backpack right away, and asked him if he was going to Ukraine like me. He said yes and since he had no particular plan, he joined our group.
I'm glad he decided to do so , he adds. He made us laugh constantly.
Émile became friends with his companions, who all joined the Ukrainian army in May.
Émile and AJ, a young veteran of the American army, met in a bar in Kiev.
One of them, nicknamed AJ, another American, says that they found themselves in the eye of the storm during the summer.
At one point in June, we were in Lysychansk, he says. We were almost surrounded before the Russians took the city.
A few weeks later, on July 18, their unit was near Siversk, in the Donestk region, when it was taken under Russian artillery fire.
One of our comrades was hit by shrapnel. Émile and others tried to put him on a stretcher, and that's where they were killed, says AJ, who was only a few meters away.
He and the others retreated, then returned to collect the bodies of their friends.
Émile, Luke and Bryan – two Americans – as well as Edvard – a Swede – were treated to a ceremony in their honor.
I kept several photos and videos of Émile, says AJ. He was my first real friend in Ukraine. He was a really good guy.
It took him two days to call Marie-France and tell her the news.
My son, I thought I had him for a long time, she laments today, still grieving.< /p>
“What I find the saddest is that Emile still had a lot of beautiful things to live. »
— Marie-France Roy-Sirois, mother of Émile-Antoine Roy-Sirois
She consoles herself by telling herself that he was happy until the end, that he felt useful and that he had a certain sense of accomplishment.
I don't like war, she said, but I think we have to acknowledge the courage of people like my son who say, "We can't accept this."
According to Global Affairs Canada, at least three Canadians have lost their lives in Ukraine since February 24, 2022.
Marie-France Sirois was able to count on the support of the Ukrainian community of Montreal after the death of her son.
Marie-France is also consoled by the support of the Ukrainian community of Montreal, which organized a mass for her son at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary last August.
At the end of the ceremony, the people came to offer me their sympathy and ask for forgiveness, she says. It was something unforgettable. I was telling them, “You don't have to ask for forgiveness, you are already in so much pain.”
Today, she and her son are now linked to this people forever.