Archive for October, 2010

Weekend watching: U.S. Congressman remembering the Holodomor

October 29th, 2010 No comments

A short video from YouTube where Congressman Mike Quigley (IL-05), remembers the tragedy of the Holodomor on the floor of the House of Representatives:

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Harper meets Yanukovych in Ukraine: Asks about Holodomor & human rights

October 25th, 2010 No comments

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who flew into Kyiv today to meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and impressively asked tough questions regarding the Holodomor genocide and the pro-Russian regime’s crackdown on human rights:

Harper also focused on human rights issues during the meeting and made clear reference to an estimated 10 million deaths at the hands of Josef Stalin, The Canadian Press reports.

Yanukovych has been reluctant to recognize the genocide.

Human rights abuses seem to be a priority for Harper during his visit to Ukraine. He appeared emotional earlier in the day while visiting an outdoor site marking the genocide, and was scheduled to meet with those who have allegedly faced state intimidation due to their political views.

He also laid a symbolic jar of grain at a monument in honour of those who died in the 1932-1933 famine and is meeting with the leader of Ukraine’s opposition.

Yanukovych has faced accusations of attempting to control national media and using police to crack down on historians, academics and students.

Canada considers the event, known as Holodomor, to be a genocide. But Yanukovych chose his words carefully, instead referring to it as a "horrible event in the history of the Ukrainian people and in the history of our neighbouring peoples."

Later in the day, after meeting with opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, Harper once again drove home his point.

"Our presence here and our meeting symbolizes the importance of democracy," he said, before going on to meetings with those who have allegedly faced state intimidation due to their political views.

Read the rest of the article

But the trip wasn’t all about righting Ukraine’s recent wrongs:

During the discussions Monday, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding that would allow Canadian and Ukrainian citizens between 18 and 35 to travel and work for up to one year in each other’s countries.

"Our two countries have strong ties underpinned by the more than 1.2 million Ukrainian descendants living in Canada today," Harper said in a release.

"Today’s agreement will create exciting work and travel opportunities for our youth, forging new bonds between our countries for generations to come."

A very impressive showing by our Canadian PM. You can watch some video of it here

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Ukrainian Denys Drozdyuk wins ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ (with video)

October 25th, 2010 1 comment

Last night was the finale of ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’ which featured two Ukrainians in the top four. In the end there could only be one winner and former Shumka dance Denys Drozdyuk took home the top prize:

In the end, it was the Ukrainian from Toronto rather than the Ukrainian from Edmonton who won the title of Canada’s Favourite Dancer in Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. After tabulating more than 1.5 million votes from across Canada, Denys Drozdyuk was declared the winner Sunday night. Edmonton’s Jeff Mortensen came third.


Earlier this week, the 22-year-old told his mother Susan he felt he had already won. She was in the Toronto studio for the live finale, as was his dad Finn and a handful of other family members. Dozens of family and friends descended on a northwest Edmonton restaurant to watch it all unfold on TV, and to celebrate what has been an incredible journey for the one-time Shumka Dancer, who last season never made it past the Top 40 of the popular show.

Mortensen said he remembered watching the first season of the American version of the show while he was still with Shumka, the venerable Edmonton Ukrainian dance troupe. At the time, he says, he had never taken a class in ballet, or jazz or hip-hop.

“But I thought to myself: ‘You could do that,’” recalls Mortensen.

He could, and he did.

Read the rest of the article

You can watch the final moments below:


Update: CTV has also released a video of the finale

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to arrive in Ukraine on Monday

October 21st, 2010 No comments

Update: Harper arrived Monday and asked Yanukovych some serious questions! 

The Canadian government has announced that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will travel to Ukraine from October 25 to 26:

The Prime Minister will also travel to Ukraine at the invitation of President Viktor Yanukovych.  “I look forward to my meetings with President Yanukovych and others, and to gaining a better understanding of Ukraine, the ancestral homeland of so many Canadians, with its unique society and culture.”

But the UCC warns that Ukraine has strayed from many democratic goals since President Yanukovych took over:

"Recent steps taken by Ukraine’s political leadership have seriously undermined the country’s constitution, its democratic institutions, the protection of its historical memory and national identity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. A continued deterioration of human and political rights in Ukraine, the weakening of its national sovereignty will have serious implications in the region and beyond. Any relations between Canada and Ukraine must be founded on the principles contained in the bilateral agreement signed in September 2009 "Priorities for Canada-Ukraine Relations – Road Map" including the provisions on democracy, human rights and the protection of Ukraine’s political sovereignty and territorial integrity. Canada’s leadership is critical in ensuring peace, prosperity, and that Ukraine will be able to pursue a fully independent, democratic and dignified existence," stated Grod.

"In the current context, with signs that Ukraine’s language, history, and national identity are being threatened amid media reports indicating that the rule of law and democratic freedoms such as freedom of the press, assembly and speech are being stifled, it is important that these issues be raised at the most senior levels," stated Grod. "Canada has an opportunity to take a leadership position in response to this situation. Canada is widely respected in Ukraine as a model for democratic values and as a civil society, for its economic and social development, and its long-term support for Ukraine."

The last PM to visit Ukraine was Jean Chretien in 1999 and the latest representative was Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada.

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Ukrainian Canadian politician Vera Danyluk passes away

October 18th, 2010 No comments

MONTREAL – She was a small-town mayor who reached the top of local municipal politics but never seemed overawed by any of it. She contemplated the idea of entering provincial politics, but decided against it after her husband worried the National Assembly in Quebec City would too often keep her away from their home in Town of Mount Royal.

Vera Danyluk, mother, community volunteer, mayor and former head of the Montreal Urban Community, died yesterday at the Montreal General Hospital after a battle with an illness described by city officials as "a very rare disorder."

Danyluk, 66, was surrounded by family in her hospital room when she died.

Trent said Danyluk "was an extremely important role model for women," referring to her assuming the reins of the MUC at a time when women in politics were a rarity.

"She showed that if you’re going to be in municipal politics, you can do it with probity, with a sense of ethics, a sense of responsibility and you can work very hard.

"She almost single-handedly helped to raise the public opinion of municipal politicians in the Montreal area."

In a communique made public in the hours after her death, Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, on his way to Rome to attend the canonization of Brother André, described Danyluk as "an exceptionally talented woman who was a great source of inspiration for all those who made a choice to enter municipal politics. We’ve lost an exceptional woman who dedicated her life to public service."

Danyluk was a critic of forced municipal mergers carried out at the start of the decade, but her support of decentralization wasn’t limited to municipal administration. In the 1970s, not yet involved in politics, she co-founded the Women’s Committee on Public Safety after the attempted rape of an adolescent girl in T.M.R. That group called for a demerger of the Montreal Urban Community’s island-wide police, placing public security back in the hands of municipalities.

Elected chairperson of the Suburban Mayors’ Conference of Montreal in 1992, two years later she experienced what might be considered the greatest irony of her political career: After spending more than a decade criticizing the MUC, Danyluk, then 49, was named its chairperson, responsible for a budget of $1.2 billion and the 15,000 employees who provided the region’s public security and transit, restaurant and food inspection, water purification, air pollution monitoring and emergency co-ordination services.

Montreal Gazette [thanks Ukemonde]

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