Marco Levytsky, Editorial Writer.
Not since the very first Congress of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee (as it was then known) in June 1943 has there been a triennial gathering of the umbrella organization for Ukrainian Canadians that was held against such a wartime background. But such was the case with the historic XXVII Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians concluded on October 30 in Winnipeg. The delegates set the priorities and elected the leadership of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for the next three years. The Congress was attended by over 400 delegates and guests.
The list of dignitaries was most impressive. The Canadian contingent was led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who, in delivering the opening address, stated:
“Canada and Ukraine are united – not just by the strong ties between our peoples, but also by our fundamental belief in freedom, in democracy, in justice, and in the triumph of light over darkness. As Russia continues its illegal and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine, Canada will continue to support the Ukrainian government and people. In standing up for themselves, Ukrainians are standing up for democracy everywhere.”
Trudeau announced that Canada will impose sanctions on 35 more Russians — including leaders of the Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom and six energy sector entities. The prime minister also said he plans to impose sanctions on members of the Russian justice and security sectors, including police officers and investigators, prosecutors, judges and prison officials involved in “gross and systematic human rights violations against Russian opposition leaders.”
The Regulations impose an asset freeze and dealings prohibition on designated persons, which include both individuals and entities. It is prohibited for any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to:
• deal in any property, wherever situated, held by or on behalf of a designated person whose name is sanctioned;
• enter into or facilitate, directly or indirectly, any transaction related to such a dealing;
• provide any financial or other related services in respect of such a dealing;
• make any goods, wherever situated, available to a sanctioned person
• provide any financial or related service to, or for the benefit of, a sanctioned person
The individuals sanctioned are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
But the most intriguing announcement he made was that the Government of Canada will issue Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds – the equivalent proceeds of which will be channeled directly to Ukraine through the International Monetary Fund. The bonds will help the Ukrainian government continue operations and continue to provide essential services to Ukrainians.
Proceeds from the five-year Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds will be “a lot like the Government of Canada bonds people are familiar with,” he said. There is currently no cap on the amount of money that can be raised through the sovereignty bonds, which will also be open to “non-Canadian financial institutions,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, whose brainchild we believe this to be.
The beauty of this program is that not only will purchasers of such bonds be helping to support Ukraine; this will also provide an investment opportunity. Exactly what the interest will be and other details such as the date of sales have yet to be announced. Nevertheless, it has already met with a positive reaction from the UCC.
“The Ukrainian Canadian community welcomes today’s announcement of Ukraine Sovereignty Bonds by Prime Minister Trudeau. This is a ground-breaking investment in a peaceful, democratic and just future, not only for Ukraine, but for all of Europe,” stated Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. “The UCC calls on all states who believe in freedom and liberty to follow Canada’s example.”
Aside from Trudeau and Freeland, other federal ministers attending the Congress were: Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence; Harjit Sajjan, Minister of International Development; and Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs. James Bezan, MP, Selkirk Interlake Eastman, spoke on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition Pierre Poilievre.
Heather Stefanson, Premier of Manitoba called the current war “a deadly, dark European stain of tragedy and … unimaginable loss.” But one of the effects of the war has been to unite Canadians in outrage and common purpose, she said. “While one in seven Manitobans are of Ukrainian descent, we are all Ukrainians during this terrible, terrible time.”
Also present was Scott Gillingham, Mayor-elect of Winnipeg, Larisa Galadza, Ambassador of Canada to Ukraine, and her predecessor Roman Waschuk. Both the current Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, Yuliya Kovaliv, and her predecessor, Andriy Shevchenko, attended in person. Participating by video were Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, the Minister of Defence Oleksiy Reznikov and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba. In terms of the participation of dignitaries, this Congress enjoyed one of the highest levels ever.
“A dynamic and energetic Triennial Congress set the direction for the UCC for the next three years. We will continue to prioritise support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in the heroic defence of their country and freedom in Europe,” stated President Chyczij.
Truly, the challenges the UCC will face in the next three years are daunting. There is the war itself, the task of assisting in the rebuilding of Ukraine and reaching out to the more than 105,000 Ukrainian that have come to Canada since March. That is why we must all unite behind the theme of this Congress – Stronger Together – В Єдності Сила – Tous ensemble.