UCC announces hiring of national fund manager

OTTAWA – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) announced the appointment of Janine (Asya) Kuzma as the new national fund development manager. “I am very pleased to welcome Janine to the UCC team,” stated Paul Grod, national president of the UCC. “It is important for us to strengthen our capacity to deliver programs and projects, and I am confident that Janine will play a key role in this regard.”

Ms. Kuzma received her post-graduate diploma in fund-raising management from Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. She also has a B.A. degree in Russian and Eastern European studies and Russian language and literature from the University of Toronto. She speaks English, Ukrainian, Polish and Russian.

The design team (from left): Larysa Kurylas, Wiktor Moskaliuk and Claire Bedat.

Ukrainian-led design team awaits decision on Ottawa’s Victims of Communism memorial

OTTAWA – An architectural team led by a Ukrainian Canadian is expecting a decision by month’s end as to whether its design has been selected to bring life to a long-awaited Victims of Communism memorial in the Canadian capital in the spring of 2019. The design by Ontario architect Wiktor Moskaliuk, Ukrainian American architect Larysa Kurylas and Washington, D.C.-based landscape architect Claire Bedat is one of five in competition and has emerged as the public favorite in an online poll run by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC). Team Moskaliuk’s concept focuses on the four principles of democracy – equality, freedom, justice and representation – depicted in four spire-like pillars made of white granite that comprise the focus of the memorial to be situated on a 5,382-square-foot area in what is known in Ottawa as the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, located west of Parliament Hill. White granite was selected as the material for the pillars at the core of the monument to convey “the idea of democracy as a pure ideal” that drew more than 8 million people from communist countries to come to Canada over the past century, explained Ms. Kurylas, who designed the Holodomor Memorial to Victims of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Washington.

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak sign the Canada-Ukraine Defense Cooperation Agreement on April 3.

Canada and Ukraine sign defense cooperation agreement

OTTAWA – One month after the Canadian government announced a two-year extension of its military training mission in Ukraine, Canada formalized its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and security through a bilateral defense cooperation agreement both countries’ defense ministers signed here on April 3.

“The arrangement will enable us to collaborate closely on issues of mutual security and defense concerns,” Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters at the signing ceremony at National Defense headquarters in Ottawa. “This defense cooperation agreement demonstrates just how strongly Canada is committed to Euro-Atlantic security and our unwavering support for Ukraine.”

Canada extends military training mission to Ukraine for two more years

OTTAWA – Canada is extending its military training mission to Ukraine for another two years, Canada’s national defense and foreign affairs ministers announced here on March 6. Operation UNIFIER – through which 200 Canadian soldiers have provided training to their Ukrainian counterparts in such areas as bomb disposal, military policing and medical training at two military sites in western Ukraine – was set to end this month, but will now run until March 31, 2019, with the same number of Canadian troops. More than 3,200 members of the Ukrainian armed forces have received this training since the mission began in September 2015, according to National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, who said that “Canada’s support for Ukraine is unwavering.”

The Canadian Armed Forces operation will transition “over time to support strategic institutional reform of Ukraine’s defense establishment,” the Canadian government said in a release. “This assistance is crucial to ensure a sovereign, secure and stable Ukraine, and the Ukrainian government is extremely happy to have us,” Minister Sajjan told reporters at a news conference outside the House of Commons as he announced the extension of the military mission. “During my visit to Ukraine last year, I witnessed firsthand the determination our soldiers brought to this mission.

Christian Borys in Avdiyivka in October 2016.

Christian Borys’s journey from Toronto tech to war correspondent in eastern Ukraine

OTTAWA – Many people likely would not give a second thought to leaving the relative comfort of life in Toronto for the deadly battleground of eastern Ukraine. But when Christian Borys decided to embark on a new career two years ago, he thought Ukraine – his father’s ancestral homeland – would be the place to give journalism a shot. The ethnic connection was only part of it, though. Few assignments test a reporter’s mettle better than covering a war, and Ukraine’s conflict with Russian-backed rebels – a major news story dominating global headlines in early 2015 – provided an irresistible pull for Mr. Borys. He understood it could be dangerous – and it has been for the Ukrainian Canadian journalist who quickly donned a combat helmet and bulletproof vest emblazoned with the word “PRESS” for both protection and identification.

At the Canadian premiere of “Bitter Harvest” (from left) are: Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Ukrainian Canadian Congress National President Paul Grod, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Yevhen Nyschuk, the film’s producer Ian Ihnatowycz, Ukrainian World Congress President Eugene Czolij and Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko.

“Bitter Harvest” premieres in Canada at Ottawa’s Canadian War Museum

OTTAWA – The feature-film “Bitter Harvest,” which is based on the events of the Holodomor, the Famine-Genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine, premiered in Canada at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa on February 28. “Bitter Harvest” takes place in Ukraine during the genocide perpetrated against the Ukrainian people by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his regime. It is a powerful story of love, honor, rebellion and survival, told through the eyes of two young lovers caught in the Holodomor. Filmed in Ukraine, the film features a stellar cast, led by Max Irons and Samantha Banks and featuring Barry Pepper, Tamer Hassan and Terence Stamp. Director George Mendeluk co-wrote the screenplay with Richard Bachynsky-Hoover.

Program announced for 2017 Holodomor Education Conference

TORONTO – The Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) has announced the program for the 2017 Holodomor Education Conference: “Education – Awareness – Action,” to be held May 5-7 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The conference engages educators who are interested in issues of human rights, social justice, democracy and the genocides of the 20th century, as well as in the methodologies, resources and technologies for teaching the Holodomor – the murder by starvation of millions in Ukraine carried out by authorities in the Soviet Union in 1932-1933. This is the second Holodomor Education Conference in Canada and its program highlights how far education on this genocide has come. Keynote speaker Dr. Joyce Apsel, a human rights activist and president of the Institute for the Study of Genocide at New York University, is presenting on the Holodomor as a case study in teaching human rights and genocide. Dr. Norman Naimark, author of “Stalin’s Genocides” and Stanford University’s Robert and Florence McDonnell Professor in Eastern European Studies, will speak on the Holodomor within the history of genocide.

Haran speaks on geopolitical attitudes in Ukraine and their policy implications

MONTREAL – Ukrainians were interested in joining the European Union before the Euro-Maidan, but it was not at the top of their list of nation-building priorities. The idea of Ukrainians identifying themselves with Western Europe, rather than with Russia, did not generate enough power to mobilize the nation until 2014. In a recent lecture at the Shevchenko Scientific Society’s chapter in Montreal, Olexiy Haran, professor of comparative politics at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and the academic director of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, reviewed the events and the Ukrainian people’s attitudes that shaped Kyiv’s policy over the last life-changing four years. To begin with, it was only after then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of Ukraine’s future membership in NATO, his subsequent refusal to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, and only after the Euro-Maidan that public opinion toward Ukraine’s membership in these organizations changed. What was the scene before all that?

Dr. Marusya Bociurkiw, writer, director and producer.

CIUS sponsors documentary screenings on contemporary Ukraine

EDMONTON, Alberta – The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) took an active part in International Week activities held January 30 to February 5 at the University of Alberta by sponsoring two documentary screenings and co-sponsoring a third. All were aimed at highlighting challenges of contemporary Ukraine that are little known to international audiences. An annual event, International Week was organized for the 32nd time this year. It is the largest extracurricular educational event held at the university, consisting of lectures, exhibitions, workshops, film screenings and cultural performances. The first CIUS-sponsored documentary, “This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine,” was presented by the film’s director, Marusya Bociurkiw.

UCC meets with senior government officials to discuss Canada-Ukraine relations

OTTAWA – Representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) met on February 3 with senior government officials from the departments of Global Affairs and National Defense to discuss the development of Canada-Ukraine relations. The meeting of the Canada Ukraine Stakeholder Advisory Council (CUSAC) was hosted by the Department of Global Affairs and co-chaired by Alison LeClaire, senior Arctic official and director general, Circumpolar Affairs and Eastern Europe and Eurasia; and Paul Migus, UCC director of government relations. “We were so pleased to be able to host representatives of the Ukrainian-Canadian Community here at Global Affairs Canada. The Government of Canada remains committed to working with Ukraine, and there is no more important connection between our two countries than people-to-people ties,” stated Ms. LeClaire. “This connection can be seen across politics, business and the arts.