NP-UN Western Bureau.
Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Minister Pavlo Klimkin thanked Canada for its military assistance and called for an expansion of Operation Unifier, during the flag raising ceremony to celebrate Alberta’s Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day, September 7.
“Many, many thanks for your drive, for your help for us in fighting Russian aggression. It’s about everything. It’s about us standing together shoulder to shoulder. It’s about assistance. It’s about financial help,” he said during the ceremony held on the Alberta Legislature grounds.
“I remember standing in the rain at Boryspil Airport in 2014 when the Canadian military assistance (arrived). It was an amazing feeling. We were all thrilled and now it’s about expanding the Unifier mission. It’s about a different kind of cooperation… Friends are real friends when they come to you when you are in a difficult situation,” Klimkin added.
Klimkin also noted that earlier in the day, he and Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko visited The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village (UCHV), east of Edmonton and was very impressed with the open-air museum that recreates Ukrainian pioneer life in Alberta.
Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous noted that this was only the second time the Ukrainian flag had been raised at the Alberta Legislature.
“Today really is an opportunity to pay tribute to the countless ways Ukrainians have contributed to building this great province, to building our great country. Canada and Ukraine share many things in common and are proud to support each other on a number of different fronts and a number of different ways,” he stated.
Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council President Olesia Luciw Andryjowycz noted that the day is intended to “celebrate the perseverance of our pioneers from every wave of immigration which came to Canada over the past 127 years.
“Perseverance, resilience and sheer tenacity is in our genes, as Ukrainians have survived and overcome centuries of persecution, only to rise on top. Today, many Ukrainian Canadians trace their roots back to one of these 5 major waves with a sense of pride. Over 350,000 Alberta identify themselves as having Ukrainian roots, and the Ukrainian community in this province remains a strong contributing force in its development.
“Today we are students, teachers, agriculturists, farmers, nurses, doctors, engineers, mechanics, labourers, musicians, conductors, business men and women, journalists and politicians. We are volunteers, community workers, mothers, fathers, and neighbours. We are proud Ukrainians who fill the ranks of every profession. AND We are Ukrainian Canadians and Proud to call Alberta, Canada home. We helped build this province and we continue to add to it every day. We are over 367,000 strong and are growing,” she added.
UCHV Director David Makowsky served as Master of Ceremonies.
The National Anthems of Canada and Ukraine were sung by a student choir from the Ukrainian Bilingual Program at St. Brendan School.
Other flag raising ceremonies in Alberta were held in Calgary, Lamont and Bonnyville.
In Toronto, a flag raising ceremony was held at St. Vladimir’s Institute.
Both Alberta and Ontario celebrate Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day on September 7. The day was chosen to honour the first officially recorded Ukrainian immigrants, Ivan Pylypiw and Vasyl Eleniak, who arrived in Canada on Sept. 7, 1891. They travelled to Canada’s West, and spread the news about the vast farmlands there back to Ukraine. Their arrival marked the beginning of Ukrainian immigration to Canada.
Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day is also observed in Manitoba, on the last Saturday of July to coincide with Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival near Dauphin, Manitoba.
Saskatchewan also marked 2016 as the year of Saskatchewan Ukrainians to celebrate the 125th anniversary of immigration from Ukraine to Canada.