ePoshta | 22Nov2009 | Stelmach, Zwozdesky, Luciw, Kohut

Government of Ukraine honours four Albertans

Several hundred people converged on the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex in Edmonton on the evening of 12 November 2009 to witness Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, Ihor Ostash, confer awards upon four Albertans. The four honoured by the Government of Ukraine were Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach (Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Class III), Alberta Aboriginal Relations Minister and Deputy Government House Leader Gene Zwozdesky (Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, Class V), Ukrainian Canadian Congress-Alberta Provincial Council President Daria Luciw (Order of Merit, Class III), and Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Director Dr. Zenon Kohut.

After acknowledging the presence of various guests, including members of the federal Parliament and of the Alberta Legislative Assembly, the mayor of Edmonton, as well as bishops of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, Ambassador Ostash declared to the gathering that the "Ukrainian heart of Canada is in Alberta." He pointed out that the province is home to a variety of Ukrainian institutions and to strong Ukrainian studies programs at Alberta's flagship university in Edmonton. A Ukrainian consulate, he announced, will open in the provincial capital at the beginning of 2010.

Ambassador Ostash mentioned the University of Alberta's Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in his speech, and its director was called upon by Luba Boyko-Bell, the MC for the event, to receive his award.

Dr. Kohut was recognized by the Government of Ukraine for his contribution to the study and reconstruction of Baturyn, the capital of the Cossack Hetmanate in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In accepting the award, Kohut, a highly regarded historian who has specialized in such topics as the Hetmanate, Ukrainian-Russian relations, and questions of identity in a historical context, expressed his gratitude to President Viktor Yushchenko for understanding the importance of such projects as the Baturyn reconstruction. Kohut, who served as the Canadian head of the Baturyn project, emphasized its significance for the development of historical memory and national consciousness in Ukraine.

In introducing Premier Stelmach, the Honourable Gene Zwozdesky, and Daria Luciw, Ambassador Ostash noted their contributions to "better relations between Ukraine and Canada and active participation in the International Remembrance Flame and raising awareness of the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33, known as the Holodomor."

In receiving their awards, the three mentioned the hard work required to obtain recognition of the Holodomor as genocide and the people behind the scenes who helped in laying the foundations for that recognition at the Alberta Legislative Assembly. Zwozdesky mentioned the premier's crucial role in introducing the Holodomor bill. For his part, the premier noted the unanimity across party lines in the passage of the bill and stressed the importance of increasing and broadening public awareness of the Holodomor. In addition to her efforts on behalf of Holodomor recognition, Luciw was commended by Paul Grod, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, for her dedicated work in raising the profile of the Ukrainian community in Canada. Grod was unable to attend, but his letter for the occasion was read to the gathering.

The evening's ceremony closed with the ambassador's presentation to another scholar associated with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Dr. Andrij Hornjatkevy, who worked at CIUS for more than twenty-five years as a Ukrainian-language specialist, was presented with a Certificate of Overseas Ukrainian from the Government of Ukraine.