UCC – the voice of Canada’s Ukrainian community
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) brings together one of Canada’s largest ethnic communities (nearly 1.3 million according to the last census). With 35 national member organizations and provincial councils as well as 17 branches, UCC unifies all major Ukrainian Canadian organizations in Canada. The Congress has been coordinating and representing the interests of the Ukrainian Canadian community since 1941.
This year marks an important milestone for the Ukrainian Canadian community, which celebrates the 125th year since the first Ukrainian immigrants arrived in Canada; 75 years that the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has unified and represented the Canada’s Ukrainian community; and the 25th year of the renewed Independence of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Canadians are proud to be one of Canada’s founding peoples. Helping to settle Canada over the past 125 years, while overcoming discrimination and other hardships, Ukrainian Canadians were instrumental in shaping Canada and Canadian values such as Multiculturalism, tolerance, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Canada is home to the second largest Ukrainian community outside of Ukraine.
UCC brings together hundreds of Ukrainian Canadian organizations that work in many various areas including youth, sport, religion, social, cultural, social services, immigrant resettlement, business, trade, politics and many other.
The following are highlights of UCC’s activities since the last 2013 Triennial Congress held in Toronto.
Support for Ukraine – Euromaidan. Occupation of
Crimea. Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine
Maidan – Revolution of Dignity
Shortly after the 24th Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians (Nov 8-10, 2013), UCC launched a campaign to encourage Ukraine’s President Victor Yanukovych to sign the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement for which the country had been preparing for since 2008. UCC was concerned that Ukraine was quickly backsliding into its authoritarian past. UCC asked the Government of Canada to intervene. UCC’s President Paul Grod accompanied then Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council meeting in Kyiv (December 3-8, 2013). The mission came amid the Ukrainian government’s crackdown on mass protests against its decision to suspend negotiations with the European Union. These heavy-handed actions were of great concern, not only to Canada but to democracies around the world. Minister Baird together with Paul Grod met with Ukrainian authorities to express to them in no uncertain terms, that their actions do not live up to the democratic standards that the Ukrainian people deserve. They also met with opposition leaders and civil society representatives to show them Canada’s support. Grod and Baird participated in the Maidan rallies on Independence Square.
January/February 2014 – UCC supported multiple actions by the Government of Canada, including hearings and Parliamentary debates. We rallied our communities and our supporters with frequent and massive rallies across Canada to demonstrate support to the Ukrainian people. Our community raised funds to provide humanitarian support to the peaceful protests on Maidan’s across the country including eastern and southern Ukraine.
February 26 – March 3, 2014 – Paul Grod traveled again to Ukraine with Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird and a small community delegation immediately after the bloody revolution (February 20), the fleeing of Victor Yanukovych (Feb 22), and the election of Prime Minister Yatseniuk (February 27), in order to show support to the new Ukrainian government.
March 20-25, 2014 – PM Harper traveled with Paul Grod and a larger Ukrainian community delegation to Ukraine to demonstrate support for the new Ukrainian government. PM Harper’s Ukraine visit was immediately followed by his participation in the Nuclear Security Summit and G7 meeting in the Hague where he successfully advocated to remove Russia from G8.
March 24 – Paul Grod was named as the only non-government official of the 13 Canadians declared persona non grata by Russia.
June 7, 2014 – Paul Grod and Eugene Czolij attended President Poroshenko’s Inauguration together with PM Harper. Next day, the UWC delegation is first non-government delegation to meet the newly inaugurated President as a sign of respect by President Poroshenko for the international support the Ukrainian diaspora rallied for Ukraine and called on us to continue.
September 17, 2014 – President Poroshenko delivers address to joint session of Canada’s House of Commons and Senate. UCC hosts roundtable discussion in Ottawa between President Poroshenko and community leaders.
September 18, 2014 – UCC and UWC Presidents attend President Poroshenko’s address to the US Congress in Washington and participates in signing of partnership agreement between the Atlantic Council and the Ukrainian World Congress.
July 13, 2015 – PM Harper and PM Yatseniuk announce Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Ukraine. UCC hosts PM Yatseniuk in Ottawa for meetings with community and business leaders.
Defending Ukraine against Russia’s aggression
UCC’s focus has been to ensure that Ukraine remains a top foreign policy priority for the Government of Canada, that Canada remain one of Ukraine’s strongest international supporters and allies, and that Ukraine remain a country of focus for Canada’s international development assistance.
UCC together with our member organizations worked closely with the Government of Canada to secure significant and ongoing support to the people and Government of Ukraine, including the provision of over $700 million in low-interest loans; non-lethal military equipment; training of Ukrainian forces by CAF personnel; significant support for economic development, including small-and-medium enterprises, and humanitarian assistance.
With the Canada Ukraine Chamber of Commerce in the lead, UCC supported the successful Canada-Ukraine Business Forum, held on June 20, 2016 as part of the Canada-Ukraine Trade and Support Project. A large UCC delegation led by President Paul Grod accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Ukraine in July 2016 to participate in the signature of the historic Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement, in order to play a significant role in ensuring its successful implementation.
Among UCC’s key advocacy issues continues to be enhanced Ukrainian immigration to Canada and the removal of visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens visiting Canada.
Humanitarian Assistance to Ukraine
UCC’s key partner in humanitarian projects in Ukraine is the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) which the UCC founded over 20 years ago. As a result of an overwhelming outpouring of grassroots community engagement with Ukraine and a multitude of projects providing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, UCC established the Ukraine Appeal. Together with major Ukrainian Canadian organizations delivering aid to Ukraine, the UCC Ukraine Appeal has been coordinating, promoting, prioritizing and maximizing the effectiveness of humanitarian aid from civil society groups from Canada to Ukraine.
In order to ensure UCC was best able to coordinate its humanitarian and other forms of support to Ukraine, we established the UCC Ukraine Advisory Council in order to best prioritize and coordinate our activities with those on the ground in Ukraine and to enhance the efforts of the Government of Canada. UCC also was a founding member of UWC’s Council in Support of Ukraine, which is chaired by Paul Grod. The UWC Council coordinates political, humanitarian and economic support to Ukraine from 50 countries that are connected to the UWC. The UWC Chair for Humanitarian assistance was Dr. Ulana Suprun and was recently replaced, due to her joining the government of Ukraine as Minister of Health, by CUF President Victor Hetmanczuk.
2015 Federal Elections. UCC surveyed Canada’s four major political parties and all MP candidates ahead of the October 2015 federal election on issues of importance to our community. The UCC provided our community with the survey answers in order to ensure our community is well-informed about the positions of Canada’s four major parties on key issues. We have been effectively utilizing these responses to ensure the Government of Canada keeps to its election commitments.
Government Consultations – UCC participated in four sets of Government of Canada 2016 Public Consultations, namely:
- Canadian Heritage – Consultations on the Memorial to the Victims of Communism.
- Defence – developed and presented a UCC brief and briefing paper for Canada’s Defence Policy Review.
- International Development – developed and presented a UCC brief and position paper for Canada’s International Assistance Policy Review.
- Immigration Policy Review. The UCC developed briefing notes for these reviews and participated in consultations with high-level representatives of the Government of Canada.
- UCC recently launched Project Link, linking representatives of our community with every Member of Parliament from each constituency coast to coast, to ensure that Canada’s Members of Parliament are regularly briefed on issues of importance to our community and have an identifiable point person to inform and educate them about issues of importance to the Ukrainian Canadian community.
- Ukraine Crisis Daily Brief – UCC monitors and informs our community and decision makers in Canada about the ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine and the response of the international community with its daily Ukraine Crisis Brief, bulletins, newsletters, and special issue announcements
Government Briefings. UCC representatives regularly meet with key Ministers and other Parliamentarians, government officials, and representatives of local, provincial and federal governments to ensure that they are well-informed about issues of importance to our community.
Calls to Action. UCC regularly coordinates community response to events in Canada, Ukraine and around the world. Through timely call to action campaigns we ensure that our community leaders are informed of issues and encouraged to deliver these positions to policy makers.
Celebration 125 years of Ukrainians in Canada. UCC is coordinating the celebration of the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. A series of wonderful events, projects and programs have taken place across the country. They included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and exhibition at the Pier21 Immigration Museum in Halifax, many festivals, concerts and celebrations across Canada, culminating in Regina, during the XXVth Congress of Ukrainian Canadians.
75th Anniversary of the UCC. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has served as the voice of Canada’s Ukrainian community for 75 years. The Congress brings together under one umbrella all the national, provincial and local Ukrainian Canadian organizations. Together with its member organizations, the UCC has been leading, coordinating and representing the interests of one of Canada’s largest ethnic communities for 75 years and instrumental in shaping Canada’s social, economic and political landscape.
- Holodomor National Awareness Tour – Together with the Canada Ukraine Foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre and the Holodomor Research and Educational Consortium, we have launched the Holodomor National Awareness Tour, a state-of-the-art mobile classroom which is travelling the country to raise awareness and educate all Canadians about the Holodomor.
- Ensured the continued recognition of and education about the Holodomor throughout Canada and held annual commemorations of the Holodomor on Parliament Hill along with yearly Holodomor Awareness Weeks.
- Working with Tribute to Liberty, secured commitment from the Government of Canada and private donors to build a Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Ottawa’s Parliamentary precinct.
WW1 Internment. Ensured the continued recognition of and education about Canada’s First National Internment Operations, and designated October 28 as National Internment Commemoration Day.
Black Ribbon Day. Together with the Central and Eastern European Council, participated in organizing annual Black Ribbon Day commemorations, in remembrance of the victims of the crimes of the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes (August 23).
Hill 70 Memorial site in France. UCC together with other community organizations and private donors are supporting the Konowal Pathway at the Hill 70 Memorial site in France where Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, fought in the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917 where Filip Konowal earned his Victoria Cross. A new memorial will be inaugurated in April 2017 near Lens, on land provided by the French authorities.
Plans and Priorities
Strengthening our Grassroots. The UCC’s will focus on the Cradle-to-Grave Initiative, providing valuable services to our community, concentrating particularly on new immigrants and smaller Ukrainian Canadian centres. A new UCC branch was opened in Halifax-Dartmouth, and the UCC is working on establishing new branches in several places throughout the country.
Youth Engagement. UCC will revive the UCC Parliamentary Internship Program, where recent Ukrainian Canadian graduates can gain valuable political and professional experience and get a head start on their careers. UCC will engage our Advisory Councils and work with our member organizations such as the P’s and B’s and CUCC to promote entrepreneurism and opportunities in business for young members of our community through mentorship and programs. UCC will promote opportunities in academia by working with CIUS and our member organizations. The Ukrainian Canadian Students Union (SUSK) and the UCC recently appointed a National Coordinator, who will work to ensure successful implementation of youth engagement initiatives of both SUSK and the UCC.
Sustainable financing. In order to support the many important initiatives, programs and projects of our Committees, the UCC will work to significantly increase our donations and build an endowment to support our community for future generations.
Supporting the people of Ukraine. In addition to devoting considerable efforts to assisting the people of Ukraine in their brave struggle to defend their country against Russia’s invasion, we will continue to work with the Governments of Canada and Ukraine on supporting the wide-ranging reform efforts underway in Ukraine, including increasing the capacity of Ukraine’s burgeoning civil society, supporting economic development, humanitarian support, and Euro-Atlantic integration.
Government of Ukraine reforms. UCC will continue to leverage the good-will and relationship it has established with government and non-government organizations (in both Canada and Ukraine) as well as leveraging the human resources of our community, to assist with the much needed reforms in Ukraine.
Building larger coalitions. Continuing our work with the Ukrainian World Congress and its member organizations to build capacity in those organizations and communities around the world to support Ukraine and those communities; Continue to engage with ethnocultural groups such as the Canadian Central and Eastern European Council, Canadian Ethnocultural Council; continue to develop working relationships with think tanks and policy institutes such as Atlantic Council, Halifax International Security Forum, among others. By doing so, UCC will continue to play a major role in shaping policy issues both in Canada and around the world.
Ukrainian Education in Canada. The UCC in cooperation with the UWC and the Ministry of Education of Ukraine, intend to develop innovative ways to provide Ukrainian Education across Canada, in particular in underserviced areas with smaller or less developed communities.
Holodomor Awareness and Education. We will continue our work to ensure that the Holodomor is included in curricula across Canada, and on increasing awareness about the Holodomor in the general public in Canada. The major project we hope to see through to completion by 2018 is the erection of a Memorial to the Victims of Communism in our Nation’s Capital.
CMHR. The UCC will continue to work with the leadership of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), the Government of Canada and key stakeholders to ensure that the CMHR properly present key human rights stories important to our community – including a permanent Holodomor Gallery and a permanent exhibit of Canada’s First National Internment Operations.
Recognition and Appointments. UCC will work to facilitate appointments of qualified members of community to serve on various government and non-government boards, agencies and organizations. We will support a comprehensive and systemic approach for recognition of deserving community leaders.
150th Anniversary of Confederation. The UCC will merge its 125th anniversary of immigration celebrations into Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation to ensure that our community is well-represented as a founding people of Canada in celebrations of Canada’s 150th.xxv-ucc-president-triennial-report-2016