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Association of United Ukrainian Canadians condemns honouring of Nazis

Alex S Boykowich President, AUUC Branch 2 Edmonton

Sep 29, 2023

A stone relief on a building of the AUUC carries the words ‘Workers of the world, unite!’ The first Ukrainian language newspaper in Canada was produced by the association, then known as the Ukrainian Labour Temple Association, in 1907. It was called Chervony Prapor (Red Banner).

The Edmonton Branch of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC) condemns the honouring of a Nazi Ukrainian World War 2 veteran, a member of the notorious 14th Waffen SS division ‘Halychyna’, in the House of Commons during the visit of Ukrainian President Zelensky last Friday, 22 September 2023.

Our Association, founded in 1918 in Winnipeg as the Ukrainian Labour Temple Association, has an unblemished record of opposing fascism, in word and deed, before and after WW2, in Canada, in the Ukrainian-Canadian community, and abroad. Our members fought heroically in the Spanish civil war, on the side of the republican government against fascism. They fought for Canada, allied with the “>Soviet Union, against Nazi Germany and fascist Italy in WW2.

It is therefore unbelievable to us, as to most other Canadians, that when the individual in question, Yaroslav Hunka, was introduced in Parliament as a Ukrainian veteran of WW2 who fought against Russia, no one in attendance, all of whom gave him two standing ovations, realised what this meant. We know exactly what it meant.

Now this shameful spectacle has been publicised to all Canadians, and throughout the world. We welcome this publicisation. We hope it will lead to a reckoning.

Some steps in this direction have already been taken. The speaker of the House of Commons has resigned. An endowment in the name of Yaroslav Hunka at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, at the University of Alberta, has been returned. We welcome these steps. But they are only first steps.

Much more must be done. The problem is greater than simply one Nazi, one speaker, and one endowment.

It is estimated that 2,000 members of the 14th Waffen SS division ‘Halychyna’ were allowed into Canada after WW2. Our association, immediately at that time, publicised and opposed their entry, to our everlasting credit. This figure does not include other Nazis and Nazi-collaborators of various nationalities.

That means thousands of Yaroslav Hunkas. Several of them went on to occupy prominent and leading positions in certain other Ukrainian-Canadian organisations, in religious institutions, educational institutions, and state institutions. The Canadian state supports, with funding and semi-official recognition, Ukrainian-Canadian organisations that unapologetically honour these Nazis.

If honouring Yaroslav Hunka in the House of Commons was a shameful act that had to be corrected, then so must all these other cases be corrected.

We therefore call on the Canadian state at all three levels (federal, provincial, municipal) to halt all state funding to all Ukrainian-Canadian organisations which honour any Ukrainian Nazis or Nazi-collaborators, including especially veterans of the 14th Waffen SS division ‘Halychyna’, until such time as these organisations explicitly and unequivocally apologise for having done so, severing all connections with all these Nazis and Nazi-collaborators in all forms whatsoever.

We call for the removal and dismantling of two monuments to Nazi Ukrainians in Edmonton: the monument to the veterans of the 14th Waffen SS division ‘Halychyna’ located in St Michael’s cemetery, and the bust of Roman Shukhevych located at the Ukrainian Youth Unity complex, preferably by their respective property owners, and if not by them, then by state compulsion.

We call on the government of Canada, and on the Liberal party of Canada which formed the government at the time, to issue official apologies to our association (the AUUC), in consultation with our association, for banning it (then named the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association) by an order in council in June 1940, seizing its properties, our halls and their contents (furniture, musical instruments, dance costumes, books, etc, most of which were destroyed), and interning our leaders in internment camps, acknowledging this as a terrible miscarriage of justice and act of oppression.

We call on all Canadians, all progressive Canadians, all decent Canadians, all antifascist Canadians, individually and through their various organisations, to support us in these calls for justice by publicising this statement, and pressuring their political representatives.

This statement was published by the Association Of United Ukrainian Canadians Branch 2 Edmonton on 29 September 2023.

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