Black Ribbon Day
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Holy Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church
Remarks – Paul Grod, UCC President
Most Reverend Bishop Steven, Reverend Fathers, Clergy, Minister Van Loan, Senator Asha Seth, Members of Parliament, leaders of the Central and Eastern European communities, distinguished guests.
On behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian community that is hosting this year’s National Black Ribbon Day commemoration in Toronto, I welcome all of you to this solemn and important commemoration that is also being commemorated in major cities across Canada and throughout the world. The events in Canada are being organized by the Central and Eastern European Council (CEEC) which brings together these communities throughout Canada.
We gather here at the Holodomor monument on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Dormition in Mississauga. It is a fitting place for our ceremony as the Holodomor is the most heineous crime of Soviet Communism and illustrates why Black Ribbon Day must be commemorated and the crimes of Soviet Communism vilified.
The Parliament of Canada recognized the decades of work by the CEEC and recently declared an annual Canadian Day of Remembrance for the victims of Nazi and Soviet Communist crimes on August 23rd, called “Black Ribbon Day,” to coincide with the anniversary of the signing of the infamous pact between the Nazi and Soviet Communist regimes. Other governments and inter-governmental organizations including the European Parliament and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have also declared today as the Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.
It is ironic or perhaps even fitting that National Black Ribbon day is commemorated only one day before we celebrate Ukrainian Independence Day on August 24th. It is a stark contrast and a reminder of the repression, suffering and death of millions of people at the hands of two of the most villainous regimes in modern history.
National Black Ribbon Day is commemorated on August 23rd to remind Canadians and those around the world that Canada will not stand for crimes against humanity. Many Canadians still alive today of Central and Eastern European origin were directly victimized by genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Soviet and Nazi regimes. We encourage all Canadians to reflect upon and commemorate these systematic and ruthless abuses that took place on the territories of Central and Eastern European that one scholar Prof Timothy Snyder has fittingly labeled as the Bloodlands.
The reasons we commemorate are to:
First – give reverence to those that suffered and died at the hands of these evil empires,
Second – to fully appreciate why we should celebrate and not take for granted independence and human rights. Similarly to recognize that these former oppressed nations of CEE have been scared by oppressive regimes and that reform in these countries will take time, support and patience by the rest of the world, and
Third and perhaps the most important reason we commemorate is to ensure that we must never allow the crimes of oppressive regimes today or in the future to go unnoticed or unpunished.
Let us make this commitment together!
UCC National President