June 24, 2016

A 75th anniversary to celebrate


This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the umbrella organization for the Ukrainian community in Canada (i.e., the Canadian counterpart to our own Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, or UCCA), or as the UCC describes itself, “the voice of Canada’s Ukrainian community.”

To mark this major anniversary, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), Paul Grod, and Ukraine’s ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko, have been on a cross-Canada tour, visiting Ukrainian communities from east to west.

Among their first stops were Toronto on April 8 and St. Catharines, also in Ontario, on April 9. In both cities, the community organized anniversary celebrations: a gala in Toronto was attended by 500 people, including members of Parliament; in St. Catharines an anniversary dinner drew some 160 guests. An interesting addition to the program in Toronto was what was billed as a “fireside chat” with Messrs. Grod and Shevchenko, joined by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly, that was moderated by journalist Hanna Homonai. The topics discussed were those uppermost in the minds of the Ukrainian Canadian community: Russia’s war against Ukraine, the political crisis in Ukraine, Canada’s continued support for Ukraine, and the role of Ukrainian Canadians in assisting their ancestral homeland.

Other tour events included those in the province of Alberta. There was a banquet in Edmonton on April 16 and a wine and cheese reception in Calgary the next day. However, the program included much more than jubilee receptions, as Messrs. Grod and Shevchenko visited schools, museums, churches and other local institutions, as well as the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village located outside of Edmonton, a site that recreates the way the first settlers from Ukraine lived.

In June, the cross-Canada tour took the UCC president and the Ukrainian ambassador to Saskatchewan, including the cities of Regina, Yorkton and Saskatoon. Along with the interim executive director of the UCC, Olya Grod, they met with government officials, the academic community, business leaders, community activists and students. Once again, the visits provided an opportunity for the leaders to get to know the local communities and their UCC branches, and to discuss issues of concern to them.

All this comes during a year when the Ukrainian Canadian Congress holds its triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians (September 29-October 2 in Regina) and the year that marks the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. There is no doubt that the cross-country tour – a veritable listening tour – can lay the groundwork for a successful congress that will shape the UCC for years to come and ensure that this umbrella organization continues to faithfully and honorably represent the interests of 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent.

Speaking at the beginning of the cross-Canada tour, Mr. Grod told his audiences: “Together as a community we have accomplished so much, and your generosity and support will allow the UCC to continue to work tirelessly in support of our community here in Canada, and in support of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine for years and decades to come.”

The UCC can indeed be proud of its record, and the emblem for its anniversary quite correctly states: “75 Years Strong” (in English) and “75 Years of Achievements” (in Ukrainian). Mnohaya lita!