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Alexandra Chyczij’s inspiring speech at the UNF Convention

Jun 28, 2024 | Ukrainian National Federation, Featured

UCC President Alexandra Chyczij addresses the 41st National Convention of the Ukrainian National Federation. Image: Kontakt TV

Kateryna Ozerianska, LJI Reporter, for NP-UN.

On June 8th, at UNF Toronto’s Trident Hall, Alexandra Chyczij, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, delivered a speech that resonated deeply with the audience. Her words, a poignant continuation of Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk’s keynote speech, brought the evening to a powerful close. Alexandra Chyczij’s address was a moving tribute, a testament to the Ukrainian community’s unwavering resilience and dedication, and a source of inspiration.

Alexandra Chyczij, with a profound sense of honour, addressed the 41st National Convention of the Ukrainian National Federation, a beacon of leadership in the Ukrainian-Canadian community for 92 years. Her warm words, ‘Вітаю і дякую вам,’ were not just a testament to the gratitude she felt towards the organization but also a reflection of the value she holds for the community.

Chyczij, in a show of deep respect and admiration, began her speech by expressing her gratitude for Dr. Luciuk’s contributions to the Ukrainian Canadian community. ‘I’m also glad to be speaking after Dr. Luciuk so that I can, as usual, have the last word,’ she joked, bringing a light-hearted start to her address.

‘Joking aside, Lubomyr,’ continued Chyczij, ‘We thank you for everything that you do for us, for our community,’ she said, recalling the leadership of the late John Gregorovich. She reminisced about a sunny afternoon in 1986 when Gregorovich called her to join the Civil Liberties Commission. ‘He introduced himself and said that as chair of the Civil Liberties Commission that was defending the good name of Ukrainians before the Deschênes Commission, he was looking for a lawyer and, more particularly, a female lawyer likely to counter the harshness of Luciuk,’ she recalled, underscoring the impact of Gregorovich’s strategic decisions.

Chyczij was intrigued and flattered by the invitation to join a team that included the late John Sopinka, who acted as counsel for the Civil Liberties Commission. “It was John’s stroke of genius to retain one of Canada’s foremost jurists to stand in defence of our community,” she noted, highlighting the significant contributions of John Sopinka and John Gregorovich, who became lifelong friends.

She recounted her subsequent invitation to join John Sopinka as counsel for the Ukrainian World Congress at the International Commission of Inquiry into the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine, held in Brussels in 1988. This historic inquiry took place during the early days of Glasnost and Perestroika in the USSR and prompted the first acknowledgment by the Soviets that something had occurred in 1932-33. “While the Soviets and their successor state Russia have never conceded that this was an artificially orchestrated famine-genocide of the Ukrainian people, many nations around the world have done so, including, as we know, Canada,” Chyczij emphasized.

Chyczij then focused on the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF), expressing gratitude for its leadership and dedication to nurturing and developing Ukrainian culture and traditions in Canada. “The summer camps, schools, dance groups, choirs, arts programs, and other initiatives too numerous to count, you have made and continue to make a fundamental and irreplaceable contribution to the growth and nurturing of our community,” she said.

She reflected on the shared history and challenges faced by the Ukrainian community, noting that many became Canadians because their ancestors were forced to leave Ukraine due to the occupation by a totalitarian empire. “The fate of my family is closely tied to the Ukrainian National Federation. The Feduschak family, long-year UNF members in Regina and Edmonton, sponsored my family. They played leading roles in UNF and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress,” she shared.

Chyczij highlighted the current struggle for freedom in Ukraine, stating, “Today, as the fate of so many generations previously, Ukrainians are once again forced to defend their freedom from Russia’s genocidal onslaught. In support of Ukraine’s freedom, the most important work of the UNF and your affiliates is being done.”

She commended the UNF for their efforts in welcoming and supporting Ukrainians seeking shelter in Canada, providing humanitarian relief to Ukraine, supporting Ukrainian veterans, and advocating for more Canadian support for Ukraine. “You are helping secure Ukrainian victory,” she asserted.

Reflecting on the continued Russian aggression, Chyczij noted, “It has been more than a decade since Russia first attacked Ukraine with the invasion of Crimea and Donbas. It has been more than two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion. I’m sure that everyone in this room has family or friends who died or were wounded on the front, whose home was hit by a Russian airstrike, or who has suffered the myriad other horrors of war.”

Chyczij stressed the importance of continued support for Ukraine. “We cannot give up. We cannot grow tired. We cannot become discouraged. Because if we do, the men and women on the front lines of Ukraine will not feel our support. And believe me, our support is important to them,” she urged. “They watch every day the news coming from around the world. We are told that when the U.S. Congress passed the vote on supplemental aid for Ukraine, there was a thunderous hooray along the entire front line of the battle. We must continue to demonstrate that support,” she added.

Closing her speech, Chyczij inspired the audience with a powerful call to action. “So today, when I see how many of you have gathered for this convention and the level of your energy and dedication to our common cause, we are inspired to continue our hard work supporting Ukraine’s victory. On this anniversary celebration, please join me in a toast to the many generations of the Ukrainian National Federation, those present here today and those whose memories we honour. Please stand up and raise a glass for the UNF and its leaders. Thank you for joining us,” she concluded.

On behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and herself, Alexandra Chyczij expressed heartfelt gratitude for the support and cooperation of the community. “From my heart, thank you for your support and collaboration. Glory to you and glory to Ukraine,” she declared.

Alexandra Chyczij’s speech was an emotional reminder of the importance of unity and perseverance. The audience responded with great emotion and enthusiasm, providing a standing ovation that underscored her address.

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