Friday, October 14, 2011

Ukrainian-Canadian community honours Prime Minister Stephen Harper

In Toronto today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper accepted the Shevchenko Medal Award, for his and the Canadian Government’s many contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community and the people of Ukraine.

The Shevchenko Medal Award is the highest form of recognition given out by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. It recognizes individuals for their outstanding national contribution towards the development of the Ukrainian Canadian community.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recives Taras Shevchenko medal
from Ukrainian Canadian Congress president Paul Grod.

"I am honoured to receive this prestigious award that recognizes the significant efforts our Government has made to address the needs and interests of our vibrant Ukrainian-Canadian community and to strengthen our ties with Ukraine," said Prime Minister Harper. "Our Government will continue to acknowledge and embrace the contributions of Ukrainians, their struggles for independence and their contributions to Canadian society."

The Harper government has taken
decisive action for the Ukrainian community, including passing a bill in 2008 recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide, upgrading community centres and social housing in Ukrainian-Canadian communities, and recognizing the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians and others during the First World War. 

Prime Minister Harper and his government have made many contributions to the Ukrainian Canadian community, both at home and abroad, including the passage of an act to establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide ("Holodomor") Memorial Day, making Canada one of the first countries to adopt legislation to recognize the Holodomor of1932-33 as an act of genocide.

The establishment by Prime Minister Harper of the "Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund" in 2008 was the culmination of many years of effort by our community to recognize the unjust internment of Ukrainian Canadians and others from 1914 - 1920.

Prime Minister Harper has been an active proponent of democratic reforms in Ukraine as evidenced by his recent trip to Ukraine in October 2010 where he publicly expressed Canada's commitment to human rights, democratic development, and free and fair elections in Ukraine.

This was preceded by Canada sending 200 election observers to Ukraine for the 2010 Presidential elections. One of the highlights of the Prime Minister's trip to Ukraine was the signing of a Youth Mobility Agreement to facilitate travel and exchanges between Canadian and Ukrainian youth.

Prime Minister Harper has also been an active proponent of Ukraine's accession into NATO and in 2009 his government entered into Free Trade negotiations with Ukraine and renewed Ukraine's status as a country of priority for international assistance through CIDA.

The Harper government has pledged to continue strengthening bilateral ties with Ukraine and help in the building of a democratic, independent and prosperous society.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress bestows the Shevchenko Medal Award every three years to recognize Canadians, institutions and organizations for their outstanding national contributions to the Ukrainian-Canadian community. The first Prime Minister to receive the Shevchenko Medal was the Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker, who was recognized for his outstanding contributions to the cause of Ukraine and other nations in their struggle for human dignity and liberty.

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