25th Anniversary of Canada’s Recognition of Ukraine’s Independence
December 2, 2016. Ottawa. Today marks the 25th anniversary of Canada’s recognition of Ukraine’s Independence.
On December 1, 1991, the people of Ukraine were asked – “Do you support the Act of Declaration of the Independence of Ukraine?” as was adopted by Ukraine’s Parliament on August 24, 1991.
For centuries, the Ukrainian people struggled, fought, and spilled their blood for the simple, sacred dream of living free on their own land. For the unalienable right to choose, as a Free People, their own future, speak their own language, foster their own culture and traditions. For centuries, they endured foreign rule and tyranny. Generations of Ukrainian patriots paid with their lives so that one day Ukraine may be free. 25 years ago that struggle was vindicated.
92.3% of Ukraine’s citizens voted to confirm Ukraine’s independence from the USSR, ending over 70 years of imperialist Soviet rule over Ukraine. From Luhansk in the east, to Lviv in the west, from Sumy in the north to Sevastopol in the south, the Ukrainian people chose their destiny – to build a free, democratic, indivisible Ukraine.
In all 27 regions of Ukraine, including Crimea and Sevastopol, a majority voted for independence. Not until Russia invaded Crimea and then eastern Ukraine in 2014 did any “separatist” movement exist in Ukraine. “Separatism” in Ukraine was engineered by Putin’s regime as an effort to destabilize and control Ukraine, as they have done in other countries in the region.
Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence. The historic bond of friendship between the Canadian and Ukrainian people began 125 years ago when the first settlers from Ukraine came to Canada seeking a better life. This friendship has endured and grown stronger in the last 25 years. Today, Canada continues to be one of Ukraine’s most steadfast allies and friends in the international community.
As we mark this anniversary, Ukraine’s sons and daughters again take up arms in defence of their country. In Ukraine’s east, Russia wages a ruthless war of aggression. Russia illegally occupies sovereign Ukrainian territory in the Crimea. As it has so many times before, Russia once again seeks to subjugate the people of Ukraine to Moscow’s rule.
Today, the people of Ukraine, united in common purpose, are bravely resisting Russia’s invasion. Secure in the knowledge that liberty will always triumph over oppression, that democracy will always triumph over despotism, and that justice will always triumph over evil, we pledge to do all in our power to support the Ukrainian people in their righteous cause.
Today, we honour the countless millions of Ukrainians who, through the centuries, gave their lives for Ukraine’s freedom. We pay tribute to those who today must defend that freedom. As Ukrainian Canadians, we are grateful to the people and government of Canada for their continuing support of Ukraine. We call on all civilized nations to continue to support Ukraine in her time of need. And we pray that peace soon returns to Ukraine.