Today I had the distinct honour of speaking at the opening of the Royal BC Museum exhibit ‘Bread and Salt‘ celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Ukrainian Immigration to Canada. Below is the text of my speech.
Good afternoon, добрий день,
It gives me great pleasure to be here at the opening of the Royal BC Museum exhibit celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Ukrainian Immigration to Canada.
On behalf of the constituents in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, I welcome you and sincerely thank those involved for putting the exhibit together.
Ever since Vasyl Ilyniak and Ivan Pylypiw arrived in Quebec from western Ukraine on September 7, 1891, Ukrainian Canadians have played a key role in making Canada what it is today. Now, more than 1.2 million Canadians claim full or partial Canadian heritage. And I am one of them.
My grandfather and mother fled Ukraine as refugees during the Second World War. After several years living in refugee camps and subsequently impoverished conditions in France, they too landed in Quebec, calling it their home for many years. And as was the Ukrainian way, my grandfather eventually returned to farming in Canada, his new country.
There must be something in the blood of Ukrainians that leads them to have such a profound respect and love of the land. In fact, my dream is to one day move onto a small farm.
You can take the Ukrainian out of Ukraine, but you can’t take the love of the land out of the Ukrainian.
Like so many others with stories that are so similar, my family immigrated to Canada so that their children could have a better life. My family instilled in us the importance of hard work, just as so many other descendants of Ukrainian immigrants did with their children
Canadians of Ukrainian descent live throughout Canada but remain bonded by their strong culture — a rich culture and history that we will find displayed in the Royal BC Museum exhibit opening today.
Thank you, Дякую, and enjoy the exhibit.