Throughout our history, UCC has been guided by the principles that all peoples have the inalienable right to live in freedom and dignity, and to always stand for the universal values of democracy and liberty.
Following World War II, the number of Ukrainian community organizations in Canada grew, and new immigrants, who arrived from war-ravaged Europe, joined the community. By 1959, the membership of UCC was comprised of 25 organizations.
In Canada, Ukrainians had the freedom to develop their community, celebrate their culture and speak their language. But in Ukraine, occupied by the Soviet Communist regime, Ukrainians continued to be silenced and persecuted in their own homeland. Those who rose in opposition to Communist despotism were jailed in the Gulag’s concentration camps or killed.
The UCC stood up against this persecution and for Ukraine’s freedom. Ukrainian organizations in Canada were the voice of the voiceless. They advocated for equal rights and self-determination of all peoples and called on their Canadian government to oppose Soviet tyranny.
Through the long decades of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Canadian community organizes campaigns in support of Ukrainian dissidents. They provide Canada and the international community information about the true nature of the Communist regime and they vocally oppose any efforts to appease the Soviet authorities.
Such efforts echoed with the democratic states, resulting in a call by the UN to release Ukrainians from concentration camps in the USSR, and Prime Minister J. Diefenbaker making a stand on behalf of the Ukrainian people at NATO in Paris.
To combat Soviet propaganda, Voice of America and Radio Canada International Ukrainian-language service broke through the information blockade and broadcast into the Soviet Union. Western news services provided uncensored, factual information behind the Iron Curtain. This was achieved in no small part due to hard work of the UCC and the Ukrainian Committee of America.
The need to defend human rights and universal freedoms today is no urgent less than in the 1950s. As Ukraine endures the seventh year of Russian invasion and occupation of Crimea and Russia’s war against Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast, the UCC focuses on assisting Ukraine and advocating before the government of Canada to support peace and security for Ukraine.
The UCC works with all political parties as well as provincial and municipal governments to maximize support for democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine. Representatives of the UCC testify before parliamentary committees; at the Canada-Ukraine Stakeholder Advisory Council representatives of the UCC regularly meet with senior government officials from the Departments of Global Affairs and National Defense to discuss the development of Canada-Ukraine relations.
In October 2017, thanks to the efforts of the UCC and many partner Canadian organizations, Canada’s Parliament adopted the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) in October 2017 – allowing the government to sanction foreign officials responsible for gross violations of human rights.
From coast to coast, Ukrainian Canadians organize and participate in campaigns supporting Ukrainian political prisoners illegally jailed by the Russian regime. The community works hard to focus Canadian and international attention on Russia’s systematic violations of the human rights of Ukrainian citizens and put pressure on the Russian authorities to free the brave Ukrainians who oppose Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its war against Ukraine.
It is because of the hard work of our Provincial Councils, local branches, and member organizations and their dedicated membership, and the generous support of donors from across the country that our community is able to provide extensive humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
To raise awareness of the encroachments against human rights and ensure that genocides such as Holodomor never take place again, the UCC with its partners and support from the Government of Canada launch the Holodomor National Awareness Tour and the Holodomor Mobile Classroom. The Ukrainian Canadian community is a key partner in the installation of the Victims of communism memorial in Ottawa, which will honour the 120 million victims of Communist regimes around the world and, through education, help in ensuring these crimes are never again repeated.
History has taught us all that to ensure liberty, we must defend it and remain vigilant against its violations. And so for the UCC and for the community we serve, the protection of human rights and the freedom of all peoples will always remain at the forefront of our work and our joint efforts.