Thank you for that introduction. On behalf of the Government of Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I am pleased to join you.
Today we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the first Ukrainian constitution, written by Pylyp Orlyk. A diplomat and leader, he created a document that established a democratic standard for the separation of powers in government among the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches.
While not everyone may know of his achievements, many know of his name, as Orly Airport in Paris was named after Pylyp Orlyk.
Ladies and gentlemen, Canada prides itself on its close ties with Ukraine. Ihad the honour of travelling there to express and build on this friendship earlier this year at the inauguration of President Yanukovych.
More than one million Canadians of Ukrainian descent have played an important role in building our society. They have also been instrumental in fostering the relationship that exists between Canada and Ukraine.
Through the decades, Canada has stood with the people of Ukraine and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe in their quest to live in freedom.
Following a referendum on Ukraine’s independence 18 years ago, Poland and Canada were the first two countries to recognize that independence.
Since then, Canada has supported Ukraine’s democratic transformation and political and economic reform.
We were honoured earlier this year to send a large contingent of Canadian election observers to help monitor the conduct of the Presidential election.
Groups such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada Ukraine Foundation have helped to build the relationship between our two countries.
They helped Minister Kenney during his 2008 visit, when he attended a ceremony
to mark the 75th anniversary of Holodomor, the 1932-33 Famine in Ukraine.
Our government appreciates their work, which continues to serve the needs of the
Ukrainian community in Canada and to preserve and promote an important part of Canada’s diverse heritage.
Ladies and gentlemen, Canada is a country where we can share our different cultural traditions, while supporting core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
I know the Ukrainian Canadian community shares these values. The late Senator Paul Yuzyk was a leader in the Ukrainian Canadian community and a pioneer in multiculturalism in Canada.
Today, we commemorate him with the Paul Yuzyk Award, which acknowledges individuals who have made exceptional contributions to diversity and multiculturalism.
Ukrainians continue to travel and immigrate to Canada in significant numbers, further reinforcing the close familial, social, and cultural ties between our two countries.
Our country is richer for this connection and I am confident it will
continue in the future.