Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau.
After more than 20 years of campaigning for one, Edmonton will finally get a Consulate-General of Ukraine established in the city.
“We have also discussed further strengthening our people-to-people contacts. In particular, we agreed to open Ukraine’s Consulate General in Edmonton,” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko stated after meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto, September 22.
At a gala event later that evening, Poroshenko reiterated that pledge.
“I have very important and pleasant news for you — the foundation of the Consulate General of Ukraine in Edmonton,” he said, adding that it would be a full-fledged Ukrainian consulate. The consulate will cover Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
Poroshenko did not set out a timeline for the establishment of the consulate, but did indicate to Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council President Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz that he would open the consulate with her.
Currently there are only two Ukrainian consulates in Canada – one in Ottawa and the second in Toronto – which serves all of Western Canada in addition to most of Ontario.
That has been a significant irritant for Ukrainian citizens living in Western Canada, since they have to travel thousands of kilometres to obtain consular services.
“This will make life much easier for our new immigrants who have come on work visas and have become landed immigrants. It has been a costly venture for our immigrants seeking assistance from Toronto, which is where our home base is for Albertans,” said Luciw-Andryjowycz.
“I am excited about the opportunities the consulate brings to Alberta,” she added.
Edmonton’s metropolitan area has the largest population of Ukrainian Canadians in the country, exceeding even that of the Greater Toronto Area.
Orysia Boychuk, President of UCC’s Edmonton Branch told New Pathway – Ukrainian News that the local Edmonton Ukrainian organizations made a consistent effort in lobbying Ukrainian government officials outlining the advantages of having a Ukrainian consulate in Edmonton.
Petro Oleksiuk from UCC Edmonton and Dr. Bohdan Medwidsky (University of Alberta Professor Emeritus) were instrumental in spearheading the letter-writing campaign, she added.
The most recent was dated July 25, 2017, signed by Boychuk and addressed to Maksym Burbak, head of Poroshenko’s “Narodnyi Front” faction in the Verkhovna Rada in which Edmonton UCC listed the many reasons why a consulate should be located in that city. Among them:
The vast territorial expanse of Canada, air distances to Toronto being 2710 km from Edmonton, 1516 from Winnipeg, 2045 from Regina and 3366 from Vancouver;
Edmonton has the most convenient geographic location for people in Western Canada;
Edmonton is a commercial centre and the establishment of a consulate in that city would have enormous benefits for cooperation in such economic spheres as energy, oil and gas exploration and refinement, forestry and the agricultural sector;
The great potential for cooperation in the sphere of education, citing the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Alberta as just one of the many educational institutions Edmonton has to offer in that field.