Ukrainians unveil plaque honouring five waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada

Oleh and Bozhenia Iwanusiw, Roman and Olena Coba present a donation of $10,000 to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to unveil a plaque at Pier 21

Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Halifax.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), in cooperation with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the KULE Folklore Centre and the UCC Halifax-Dartmouth Branch celebrated the 125th Anniversary of Ukrainian Immigration to Canada at Pier 21 in Halifax on July 21.

The celebrations featured the launch of the exhibit “Journey to Canada: Ukrainian Immigration Experiences 1891-1900″ depicting the journey that the first Ukrainian settlers in Canada made and the pioneer experiences they lived through, which will be displayed until October 30, 2016 at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. The exhibit has been generously provided to the Museum by the KULE Folklore Centre, University of Alberta.

The Ukrainian Canadian community unveiled a plaque as a tribute to the five waves Ukrainian immigrants who came to Canada over the past 125 years. A generous donation from Roman and Olena Coba and Oleh and Bozhena Iwanusiw of $10,000 was made to UCC to fund the plaque.

The celebration at Pier 21 was attended by some 100 guests. UCC Interim Executive Director Olya Grod was Master of Ceremonies. Marie Chapman, CEO of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 welcomed the guests and provided a historical context to the proceedings.

The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, brought greetings on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau.

“In 1891 what are thought to be the first Ukrainian immigrants to Canada, Ivan Pylypiw and Wasyl Eleniak, arrived on our shores. They and the hundreds of thousands of others who were to follow found success in a new land, thanks to their hard work, love of family and careful stewardship of the land,” stated Minister Mihychuk. “These pioneers and their descendants – numbering some 1.3 million today – have left a profound mark on Canada and have contributed to our nation’s success in all fields of endeavor.”

Member of Parliament Cathay Wagantall (Yorkton-Melville) brought greetings on behalf of the Official Opposition, and Member of Parliament Linda Duncan (Edmonton Strathcona) brought greetings on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada.

The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, Nova Scotia Minister of Immigration, brought greetings on behalf of the Government of Nova Scotia and His Worship Mayor Mike Savage brought greetings on behalf of the City of Halifax.

Honoured guests at the event included: The Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons; Member of Parliament and Chair of the Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre); The Honourable Senator Raynell Andreychuk; The Honourable Tony Ince (Nova Scotia Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage) and The Honourable Kelly Regan (Nova Scotia Minister of Labour and Advanced Education).

The plaque honouring five waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada was unveiled, and was blessed by The Reverend Roman Dusanowskyj, Pastor of the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church (Sydney, NS). The inscription on the plaque reads

In honour of the many thousands of Ukrainians who began arriving in Canada after 1891 seeking freedom and prosperity. They helped build our great nation and championed Canadian values like multiculturalism. Ukrainian Canadians have enriched Canada through their industriousness, rich cultural heritage, strong religious beliefs and dedication to their community and ancestral homeland.

Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn, the artist that created the 3 large display panels,wearing the sheepskin coat that her great grandmother arrived in at Pier 21 in 1908, spoke on behalf of the KULE Folklore Centre.

UCC National President Paul Grod stated, “As we celebrate 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, we honour and remember those who came to Canada and built the foundations of our strong and vibrant community. On behalf of our community, I express my heartfelt gratitude to Roman and Olena Coba, and Oleh and Bozhena Iwanusiw for their generous donation of $10,000, which allowed us to unveil the plaque honouring the five waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada.”

“This was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the rich history of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, at the place where so many Ukrainians took their first steps on Canadian soil,” stated John Zareski, President of the UCC Halifax-Dartmouth Branch, who offered closing remarks. “A sincere thank-you to all the organizers, and all of our guests, who made this evening a resounding success.”

For an interview with curator Dan Conlin and Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn about the “Journey to Canada: Ukrainian Immigration Experiences 1891-1900,” which aired on CTV, please see