Ukrainian Canadian

Ukrainian Canadian

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Ukrainian Canadian

poptime = 1,209,085
3.9% of the Canadian Population
popplace = Western Canada, Ontario, British Columbia
langs = English, Ukrainian (particularly Canadian Ukrainian)
rels = Ukrainian Catholic, Ukrainian Orthodox, other, none
related = Ukrainians, Slavic Peoples especially East Slavs
A Ukrainian Canadian is a person of Ukrainian descent or origin who was born in or immigrated to Canada. In 2006 there were an estimated 1,209,085 persons residing in Canada (mainly Canadian citizens) of Ukrainian origin, making them Canada's ninth largest ethnic group, and giving Canada the world's third-largest Ukrainian population behind Ukraine itself and Russia. Self-identified Ukrainians are the plurality in several rural areas of Western Canada.



The first Ukrainian immigrants to Canada were Iwan Pylypow and Wasyl Eleniak,who arrived in 1891 and brought several families to settle in 1892. Pylypow helped to found the Edna-Star Settlement, the first and largest Ukrainian block settlement. But it was Dr Josef Oleskow who is considered responsible for the large Ukrainian Canadian population by promoting Canada as a destination for imigrants from Western Ukraine (the Austrian crownlands of Galicia, and Bukovyna), in the late 1890s. Ukrainians from Eastern Ukraine, which was ruled by the Russian monarchy, also came to Canada, but in smaller numbers than those from Galicia and Bukovyna.

Early Ukrainian immigration to Canada was largely agrarian, and at first Ukrainian Canadians concentrated in distinct block settlements in the parkland belt of the Prairie provinces, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. While the Canadian Prairies are often compared to the steppes of Ukraine, it should be noted that the settlers came from Galicia and Bukovyna which are not steppe lands, but are wooded areas in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. This is why Ukrainians coming to Canada settled in the wooded aspen parklands, in an arch from Winnipeg to the Peace River Country of Alberta, rather than the open prairies further south. As well the feudal nature of land ownership in Austrian Empire meant that in the Old Country people had to pay the "pan" (landlord) for all their firewood and lumber for building. Upon arriving in Canada, the settlers often demanded wooded land from officials so that they would be able to supply their own needs, even if this meant taking land that was less productive for crops. They also attached deep importance to settling near to family, people from nearby villages or other culturally similar groups, furthering the growth of the block settlements. By 1914, there were also growing communities of Ukrainian immigrants in eastern Canadian cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, Hamilton, and Windsor. Many of them arrived from the provinces of Podillia, Volyn, Kyiv and Bessarabia in Russian Ukraine. In the early years of settlement Ukrainian immigrants faced considerable amounts of discrimination at the hands of native-born Canadians, an example of which was the internment. [,M1] [,M1] []

Since World War II, most Ukrainians coming to Canada have tended to move to cities in the East, and there are now large Ukrainian communities in Toronto and Montreal. In fact more Ukrainians live in the East today than on the Prairies. However, because they make up a much greater percentage of the population in the West, especially in rural areas of the parkland belt, the Ukrainian cultural presence is more keenly felt in western Canada.


From 1914 to 1920, the political climate of the First World War allowed the Canadian Government to classify immigrants with Austro-Hungarian citizenship as "aliens of enemy nationality". This classification, authorized by the 1914 War Measures Act, permitted the government to legally compel thousands of Ukrainians in Canada to register with authorities. About 5,000 Ukrainian men, and some women and children, were interned at government camps and work sites. The internment continued for two more years after the war had ended, although most Ukrainians were paroled into jobs for private companies by 1917.

There are nearly two dozen plaques and memorials in Canada commemorating the internment, including one at the location of a former internment camp in Banff National Park. Most were placed by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and its supporters. On August 24, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin recognized the Ukrainian Canadian internment as a "dark chapter" in Canadian history, and pledged $2.5 million to fund memorials and educational exhibits.

On May 9, 2008, the Canadian government established a $10 million fund with the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, for commemoration of the experience of thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans that were interned between 1914–1920 and the suspension of civil liberties of tens of thousands of fellow Canadians. []


Having been separated from Ukraine, Ukrainian Canadians have developed their own distinctive Ukrainian culture in Canada. To showcase their unique hybrid culture, Ukrainian Canadians have created institutions that showcase Ukrainian Canadian culture such as Edmonton's Shumka Dance Ensemble, among the world's elite Ukrainian dancers, or the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, where Ukrainian pioneer buildings are displayed along with extensive cultural exhibits.

Ukrainian Canadians have also contributed to Canadian culture as a whole. Actress and comedienne Luba Goy, painter William Kurelek, for example, are well known outside the Ukrainian community.

Historically Ukrainian Canadians were among Canada's poorest and least educated minorities, but as the process of cultural integration has accelerated, this is no longer the case and Ukrainian Canadians are near the national economic average.

Perhaps one of the most lasting contributions Ukrainian Canadians have made to the wider culture of Canada is the concept of multiculturalism which was promoted as early was 1964 by senator Paul Yuzyk. During and after the debates surrounding the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism Ukrainian leaders, such as linguist Jaroslav Rudnyckyj, came out in force against the notion of English - French biculturalism which they believed denied the contributions other peoples had made to Canada. Partly in response to this, Prime Minister Trudeau shifted Canada to a policy of official multiculturalism.


In addition to the official English and French, many prairie public schools offer Ukrainian language education for children. Generally this is the local Canadian Ukrainian dialect, rather than Standard Ukrainian.


The Ukrainians have long been at the heart of Canadian socialism. Many Ukrainians were anti-Soviet but a strong minority supported the Communist Party of Canada, and formed an important bloc with that group. They were also important in other Marxist organizations like the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association (UFLTA). Ukrainians also played a central role in the formation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the New Democratic Party.

The nationalist movement was also an important part of the community. After Ukraine became independent Canada was one of the first nations to recognize Ukraine. Later Ukrainian Canadians were vital in fundraising to build the Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa. As well Canada has recognized the Holodomor (Ukrainian Famine) as an act of genocide, and Canada sent many observers during Ukraine's disputed 2004 presidential election (see: Orange Revolution).


Most Ukrainians who came to Canada from Galicia were Ukrainian Catholic and those from Bukovyna were Ukrainian Orthodox. However people of both churches faced a shortage of priests in Canada. The Ukrainian Catholic clergy came into conflict with the Roman Catholic hierarchy because they were not celibate and wanted a separate governing structure. At the time, the Russian Orthodox Church was the only Eastern Orthodox church that operated North America, because they had arrived first via Alaska, and traditionally Eastern Orthodox churches are territorially exclusive. However, Ukrainians in Canada were suspicious of being controlled from Russia, first by the Tsarist government and later by the Soviets. Partially in response to this, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada was created as a wholly Ukrainian Canadian controlled alternative. As well the Ukrainian Catholic clergy were eventually given a separate structure from the Roman Church. Today many Ukrainian Canadians follow other religions such as Protestantism or none at all.


Canada is home to some of the most famous Ukrainian dance troupes in the world, rivalling even those from Ukraine. There are professional ensembles like Edmonton's Shumka and dozens of amateur groups.

Ukrainians in general are noted for their elaborately decorated Easter Eggs or "pysanky", and that is also true in Canada. The world's largest pysanka is in Vegreville, Alberta.

Ukrainian Canadian churches are also famous for their onion domes, which have elaborately painted murals on their interior, and for their iconostasis, or icon walls.


Cultural food is an important part of Ukrainian culture. Special foods are used at Easter as well as Christmas, that are not made at any other time of the year. In fact on Christmas Eve, a special twelve-dish meal is served. The best-known foods are: "borshch" (a vegetable soup, usually with beets), "holobtsi" (cabbage rolls), "pyrohy" or "varenyky" (dumplings often called perogies), and "kovbasa" (garlic sausage or kubasa).

Several items of Ukrainian food and culture have be enshrined with roadside attractions throughout the Prairie provinces. These are celebrated in the polka "Giants of the Prairies" by the Kubasonics. For example, the world's largest pyrogy is in Glendon, Alberta, [] , and world's biggest kubasa in Mundare, Alberta [] .


There are a number of Ukrainian Canadian institutions such as:
* Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, the main pro-Communist cultural association
* Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies at the University of Manitoba
* St. Andrew's College (Winnipeg), an institution of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada affiliated with the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
* Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, an independent group dedicated to the articulation and defence of the Ukrainian Canadian community's interests
* Ukrainian Canadian Congress, a national organization representing the Ukrainian Canadian community
* Ukrainian Cultural Centre of Toronto (UCCT)
* Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, a living-history museum east of Edmonton
* Ukrainian Museum of Canada
* St. Petro Mohyla Institute, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a non-profit university student residence, Ukrainian culture summer school, and youth hostel.
* Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society community agency assisting newcomers to Canada

Famous Ukrainian Canadians

This list includes people of mixed origins.

*Dave Andreychuk - hockey player
*Bill Barilko- hockey player
*Albert Bandura - psychologist
*James Bezan - member of parliament
*Fedor Bohatirchuk - chess player
*Roberta Bondar - astronaut
*Mike Bossy- hockey player
*Kerry Burtnyk - curler
*Turk Broda- hockey player
*John Bucyk - hockey player
*Rick Danko - musician, former bassist and singer of The Band
*Roman Danylo - comedian
*Peter Dmytruk - war hero
*Jordan Danyluk aka J.D. Michaels - professional wrestler
*Ivan Doroschuk - musician, front man of Men Without Hats
*Ernie Eves - former premier of Ontario
*Ed Ewasiuk - Alberta NDP MLA
*Metropolitan Wasyly (Fedak) - Former primate and metropolitan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada
*Sylvia Fedoruk - Canadian scientist, curler, and former Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan
*Randy Ferbey - curler
*Gary Filmon - former premier of Manitoba
*Chrystia Freeland Editor of the Financial Times
*Luba Goy - comedian
*Dale Hawerchuk- hockey player
*Ramon John Hnatyshyn - former governor-general of Canada
*Petro Jacyk - businessman and philanthropist
*Juliette - singer and CBC television host
*Stephen Juba - former mayor of Winnipeg
*Gerard Kennedy - Ontario cabinet minister
*Filip Konowal - Victoria Cross recipient
*Jeremy Kushnier - actor/singer, currently in the Chicago cast of the musical Jersey Boys
*Peter Liba - former lieutenant-governor of Manitoba
*Orest Meleschuk - curler
*Eugene Melnyk - owner of Biovail Pharma and the Ottawa Senators NHL hockey team
*Lubomir Mykytiuk - actor
*Steve Peters - Ontario cabinet minister
*Helen Potrebenko - author
*Oksana Pyzik - model
*Roy Romanow - former premier of Saskatchewan
*Jaroslav Rudnyckyj - linguist, a founding father of Canadian multiculturalism
*Terry Sawchuk- hockey goalkeeper
*Brad Scibak- Lacrosse World Champion Official and Kaplan Director
*Eddie Shack- hockey player
*Marsha Skrypuch - writer
*Adam Smoluk - director, screenwriter and actor
*Theresa Sokyrka - singer
*John Sopinka - jurist
*Ed Stelmach - current Premier of Alberta
*Jordin Tootoo - hockey player (Ukrainian Canadian mother)
*Alex Trebek - television game show host
*Judy Wasylycia-Leis - member of parliament
*Ed Werenich - curler
*Borys Wrzesnewskyj - member of parliament



* Kukushkin, Vadim (2007). "From Peasants to Labourers: Ukrainian and Belarusan Immigration from the Russian Empire to Canada", Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press.
* Luciuk, Lubomyr (2000). "Searching For Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada and the Migration of Memory", Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-8088-X.
* Martynowych, Orest (1991). "Ukrainians in Canada: The formative period, 1891–1924". Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. ISBN 0-920862-76-4.
* Prymak, Thomas M. (1988). "Maple Leaf and Trident: The Ukrainian Canadians During the Second World War". Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.
* Satzewich, Vic (2002). "The Ukrainian Diaspora". Routledge. ISBN 0415296587.
* Swyripa, Frances (1999). [ Ukrainians] . "Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples". Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario.

External links

* [ Ukrainian Canadian Congress]
* [ the history of the Ukrainian Canadian community]
* [ Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association]
* [ Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies]
* [ Ukrainian Toronto Community Portal]
* [ Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society]
* [ Ukrainian community in Canada: experiences and issues, UNIAN Agency]
* [ The Ukrainian Collection of the University of Calgary]
* [ The John Luczkiw Collection, University of Toronto]
* [ Multicultural Canada website] includes Ukrainian Canadian tabloids, magazines, newspapers, newsletters and calendar-almanacs.

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