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Friday, August 24, 2012

Canada congratulates Ukraine on Independence

Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper today the following statement on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence:
“Today we celebrate the 21st anniversary of the momentous occasion when Ukraine gained its independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on August 24, 1991.

“Canada was the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s secession. Since then, our two countries have enjoyed a strong and productive working relationship, enhanced by our signing of a declaration affirming our ‘Special Partnership’ as friends and allies.

“Our relationship with Ukraine continues to be strengthened through ongoing negotiations towards a free trade agreement, and Canada remains focused on supporting Ukraine’s democratic transformation and economic reforms.

“Today is also an occasion to celebrate the immense contributions that the more than 1.2 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent make to our country in every area of endeavour. The Ukrainian Canadian community cherish values such as democracy and the rule of law, values which our country holds most dear.

“Canada committed to send 500 election observers to Ukraine for their upcoming election in October, many of which come from the Ukrainian Canadian community. In joining with international partners to help ensure a free and fair election, we can help promote democracy in Ukraine and around the world.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, I offer Ukrainians and Canadians of Ukrainian heritage celebrating this important occasion my best wishes for a most memorable anniversary.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Canadians of European heritage commemorate Black Ribbon Day acros Canada today

August 23 marks the date of signing the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact, and it has become the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of communism and Nazism.

In Canada, a movement called Black Ribbon Day is starting to gain momentum as an annual commemoration. Our federal government acknowledges it, and today issued this statement:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement today to mark Black Ribbon Day, the national day of remembrance for the victims of Communism and Nazism in Europe: 
“Today, we take the time to offer our sympathy and support to those who have been victims of Communism and Nazi totalitarianism, and to remember those persecuted who are no longer with us.  
“Canada has long been a beacon of hope for those looking to flee the heavy hand of dictatorships and oppressive regimes. 
“The marking of Black Ribbon Day in Canada shows that our country condemns crimes against humanity, and that we will forever and always be a stalwart champion for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, also issued a statement of support for this commemoration.

Hopefully future prime ministers and governments will continue to issue such statements and show their support every year on this date.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Act is not as well known in North America as it should be. Which is unfortunate. Much can be learned from it by those who seek to prevent and end war. Provided, of course, that they can see past their own ideology to the patterns that human nature has created over the millenia.

According to Wikipedia:
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact is also known as the Nazi–Soviet Pact, Hitler–Stalin Pact, German–Soviet Non-aggression Pact and sometimes the Nazi–Soviet Alliance.
At the beginning of the 1930s, the Nazi Party's rise to power increased tensions between Germany, the Soviet Union and other countries with ethnic Slavs, which were considered "Untermenschen" according to Nazi racial ideology.
Moreover, the anti-Semitic Nazis associated ethnic Jews with both communism and financial capitalism, both of which they opposed.
In 1934, Hitler himself had spoken of an inescapable battle against both Pan-Slavism and Neo-Slavism, the victory in which would lead to "permanent mastery of the world", though he stated that they would "walk part of the road with the Russians, if that will help us."
Well politics does make strange bedfellows. And, obviously, fickle ones.

But as these 20th century totalitarians played their parlour games, millions died horrible deaths.

The thing is, though, that the totalitarians didn't do it on their own. They couldn't possibly. They had to employ useful idiots, many of whom by the time they got to the killing fields, realized too late that they had been duped and conned.

Others (like those today) remained in denial, in blind adherence to their ideologies.

At 7pm tonight Vancouver's Central and Eastern European communities will gather at St. Peter's Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church on 6520 Oak St. (SE corner of Oak and 49th) to remember the victims of Nazism and Communism.

Many members of Vancouver's Ukrainian community have first-hand experience of the horrific consequences of this diabolical pact. Somehow they managed to survive the useful idiots in the employ of both of these evil totalitarian regimes.

One can only hope that Black Ribbon Day and the presence of survivors at the gatherings will help to ensure that history will not soon repeat itself.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Musical trip down memory lane: Ой Марічко чічері

One of the things I love (possibly the most!) about hosting Nash Holos is the opportunity to share Ukrainian music I love with listeners of the show.

Here's one I shared this week.

I have the song on a CD I picked up in Ukraine a few weeks ago. It's a compilation of 200 mp3s of tracks recorded back in the day.

There is little IMHO to wax nostalgic over in the soviet era. But if memory serves me, there was more appreciation for Ukrainian folk music. Probably as a result of that appreciation, more of it was being produced in contemporary arrangements like this.

OTOH it could be a global trend in our era away from indigenous folk music towards bland commercial conformity in the music industry, thanks to well-heeled promoters and smart marketers.

Thank goodness for people who market gems like this ... and put them up on YouTube!


Canada Concerned About Detention of Ukrainian Opposition Leaders

“The August 17, 2012, conviction of former minister of the interior Yuri Lutsenko is the latest example of apparent political bias in the prosecution of Ukrainian opposition figures, and it raises serious concerns about the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine,” said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in a statement dated August 22, 2012

“This trend calls into question the willingness of Ukraine to hold elections that are truly free and fair. Our government has committed unprecedented support to ensuring that elections this fall are free, fair and fully representative of the democratic will of Ukrainian voters.

“While welcoming news of the conditional release of former acting minister of defence Valeriy Ivashchenko, we call on the Ukrainian government to release Yuri Lutsenko and Yulia Tymoshenko.

“Canada stands with the people of Ukraine as they seek to build a nation founded on the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”


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