On Wednesday December 7, 2016 Members of the Provincial Parliament (MPP’s) from all parties delivered statements in the Legislature to celebrate 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. Guests at the Ontario Legislature included leaders of many Ukrainian Canadian community organizations from across the province.
Lida Narozniak, President of UCC Ontario Provincial Council, spoke on behalf of the community at a reception which followed statements in the Legislature. Narozniak paid tribute to the historic contributions of the community, saying “Ukrainian Canadians have played an important role in the development of Ontario into one of the most desirable places in the world to live and have contributed to making Canada the great country that it is today”.
“We acknowledge and thank the people of Ontario, along with other Canadians, who have worked to help build a stable democracy and economy in Ukraine. We acknowledge and thank the Ontario government for its support of the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy and human rights, something we all share in common,” said Narozniak.
Remarks in the Legislature were made by Premier Kathleen Wynne, MPP Yvan Baker, MPP John Yakabuski and MPP Taras Natyshak. Extracts from their statements are listed below.
To see the full text of MPP’s remarks please click on the link below:
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne:
Over the decades, Ukrainian immigrants have built homes, started businesses and grown communities here, all the while making our province a better place to live. Today, Ontario is fortunate to be home to the largest number of Ukrainian Canadians in the country.”
The Holodomor Memorial Day Act was the first-ever piece of Ontario legislation sponsored by all three parties, because we all recognized the importance of remembrance and education. It’s why our government added the internment of Ukrainian Canadians and the study of the Holodomor to Ontario’s high school curriculum. Now every young person in Ontario will learn about these dark chapters in our history.
Mr. Yvan Baker:
This Legislature was amongst the first in the world to recognize that the Holodomor was a genocide. That is why our government has ensured that the Holodomor and the internment of Ukrainian Canadians here in Canada is included in the Ontario curriculum—so that every young person can learn about the Holodomor and can learn about the internment. That is why our government supported the Holodomor mobile classroom, which will support the teaching of the Holodomor around Ontario. That is why this government—our government and the government of Canada federally—have condemned Russia’s occupation of Ukraine and have stood firmly in our support of Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Today, I think we feel what my grandparents would feel, what the people here feel, what their parents and grandparents would feel, what prior generations of Ukrainians who have come to Canada for 125 years would feel if they were here today: proud of the contributions that Ukrainian Canadians have made to Canada over the past 125 years, proud of their Ukrainian heritage and proud to be Canadian.
Mr. John Yakabuski:
I’m honoured to rise today, on behalf of Patrick Brown and the PC caucus, in recognition of 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. I, too, would like to welcome all the visitors from the Ukrainian Canadian community joining us today. I’ve had the pleasure over the last couple of years, as our cultural liaison with the community, of getting to know some of them much better, and I’ve appreciated all of the interactions that we have shared.
I would also like to take this opportunity to commend the Ukrainian Canadian community for their incredible mobilization and organization in support of the people of Ukraine. It is through various medical, charitable and political initiatives that they demonstrate the very best of what it means to be Canadian.
In 2011, to mark the anniversary of the arrival of the first Ukrainian settlers, former Progressive Conservative MPP Gerry Martiniuk introduced the Ukrainian Heritage Day Act, which sets September 7 as Ukrainian Heritage Day in Ontario, a day we celebrate every year.
Mr. Taras Natyshak:
Ukrainians first came to Canada in the 19th century. The initial influx came as Canada promoted immigration to farmers. My great-grandfather, John Natyshak, was among those immigrating to Saskatchewan in 1898.
Ukrainian immigrants and their descendants have left a profound mark on the development of Ontario and western Canada. They have made, and continue to make, remarkable contributions to Canada in the fields of culture, the economy, politics and sports.
Ukrainian Canadians have made an indelible mark on our nation’s fabric. From all aspects of our social lives, Ukrainian Canadians can be proud of their contributions to the cultural mosaic of Canada. I am proud to count myself as one of them and proud to stand in a Legislature that has recognized the unique and special relationship that we have as Ukrainian Canadians, especially in recognizing the Holodomor genocide and enshrining that into the curriculum of this province.