2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress  – which unites Ukrainian organizations from coast to coast to coast of our great country.  Thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, supporters and generosity of our donors, the Ukrainian Canadian community today – more than 1.3 million of us – is stronger than ever and ready to lead us into a brighter future.

Learn our history in a series of videos

Every month this year, UCC will be presenting a video that describes and discusses our history and the important work of the community throughout the decades.

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History of the Ukrainian community in Canada

1891

1891 – 1930

The Pioneer Experience

Ukrainians immigrated to Canada at the turn of the century, settling mostly in rural areas of the prairie provinces. Given the church services were required all the more by the new settlers, and in 1918 the autonomous Ukrainian Greek-Orthodox Church of Canada was established. Between 1903 and 1920 Ukrainian Canadians started many organizations and institutions (Ridna Shkola, Taras Shevchenko Institute in Edmonton, Andrey Sheptycky Ukrainian Bursa in Winnipeg among others).

With the outbreak of WWI many Ukrainian immigrants were detained being deemed “enemy aliens” as they arrived from countries at war with Canada. Formed in 1917, the Ukrainian Canadian Citizens’ Committee, consisting of various lay and church organizations sent a delegation to Ottawa to protest the classification of immigrants from western Ukraine as “enemy aliens”. 

A number of organizations became active in the ’20s and ’30s including USRL, UNF, the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood and others.

1930-1940

Forerunners of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee

The need for unified action by the Ukrainian community became urgent in 1938 to react to events affecting Ukrainians in Europe and the beginning of WWII. The community was anxious to unite under one representative committee.

The final and conclusive impetus for unity came from the National War Services of Canada which was anxious that young Ukrainians enlist in military services.

 

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1940

November 6-7, 1940

Ukrainian Central Committee is formed

The Ukrainian Central Committee was formed as the one representative body on November 6-7, 1940.

The UCC constituted of the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood, Ukrainian National Federation, Ukrainian Self Reliance League, United Hetman Organization and United Labour Organization. 

Rt. Rev. Msgr. Dr. W. Kushnir was elected the First President of the UCC. Dr. S. W. Sawchuk became the First Vice-President and Chairman of the Presidium.

June 22-24, 1943

First Congress of Ukrainian Canadians

Slogan – “Victory and Freedom“

Over 600 delegates participated in the Congress. 

Read this part in more detail. 

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1940-50

1940-1950

War Effort and Ukrainian War Refugees

Following the victory of the Allied Forces in 1945, nearly two million Ukrainians find themselves as refugees in Europe. To help and support them, the Ukrainian Canadian Relief Fund was established in 1948 and grew to over $200,000, led by the efforts of the Canadian women’s committee of the UCC.

The Central Ukrainian Relief Bureau in London channelled all relief aid. 

The UCC pressed the Canadian government to give political refugee status to displaced people and convinced the allies to stop forced repatriation to the Soviet Union. Thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian community in Canada, over 32,000 Ukrainian refugees would find a home in Canada by the early 1950s. 

Learn more. 

 

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