Remarks by Paul Grod at UCC Tribute to Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Ukrainian Canadian Congress Tribute to Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Remarks by Paul Grod, UCC President

Toronto, October 14, 2011

Your Excellencies Bishop Stephen and Bishop Andriy, Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Ministers, Senators, Members of Parliament, Members of Provincial Parliament, City Councilors, representatives of the diplomatic corps, community leaders and distinguished guests

Good evening, dobryj vechir (good evening), Slava Isusu Khrystu (Glory be to Jesus Christ)!

Thank you for gathering here this evening for this very special event – a Tribute to the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper and the awarding of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Taras Shevchenko Medal.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress brings together and represents the interests a very large and dynamic community.  A community with a 120 year history in Canada that is rich with cultural centers, schools, libraries, museums, institutes, churches and just about every kind of Ukrainian organization you can imagine – from coast to coast.  We have a long history of caring for Canadians from cradle to grave and assisting in the resettlement of new immigrants.  As the Congress, we have represented the interests of our community for over 70 years by uniting the community and speaking with one common voice to government.

It is fortunate that Canada’s governments have understood many of the issues that our community has championed.  We have witnessed that when government and communities listen to one another and work together we can build a better society.  Over the past 12 decades we successfully worked together in enshrining multiculturalism in the Canadian Constitution, developing human rights law in Canada, and establishing progressive immigration policies, among others.  More recently, we have worked together to recognize injustices such as the internment of Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans during Canada’s first national internment operations; and the genocide of the Ukrainian people – the Holodomor.  We stand committed to ensuring that the lessons of these human rights tragedies are appropriately represented in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and that the Holodomor serve as a lens in through which we can examine all human rights developments, both positive and negative.

Prime Minister, you can be sure that the Ukrainian Canadian community as a founding peoples of Canada will continue to contribute to the development and promotion of Canadian values both at home and abroad.

Those values include respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.  We anticipate that one day they too will become the values of the Ukrainian people.  Together we will make a difference as a true friend by standing with the people of Ukraine to oppose all efforts, inside Ukraine and from outside its borders, that would isolate Ukraine or undermine its hard won independence and fledgling democracy.  Your leadership in this area has been an example to other world leaders.  We hope that you will continue to see Ukraine as a foreign policy priority for Canada and that you will remain committed to supporting human rights, democratic development, and free and fair elections in Ukraine.

Today we want to thank and recognize Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his dedication to public service, for his leadership and in particular to the outstanding contribution he has made towards the development of the Ukrainian Canadian community.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour to bestow the Taras Shevchenko medal upon Canada’s Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper.

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