Ukrainian Canadians and Multiculturalism

(Canscene) — The term “multiculturalism” came into being in Canada, springing from the heritage-proud Ukrainian Canadian community and enunciated as a policy in the fall of 1971 by Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

A recent article in the April issue of New Pathway revealed the extent to which Ukrainian-Canadians influenced the adoption by the Trudeau government of the policy of multiculturalism in 35 years ago. Andriy J. Semotiuk, an Edmonton immigration lawyer in his lengthy review of The Politics of Multiculturalism reveals he extent to which Ukrainian Canadians influenced the introduction of the policy.

The book was written by Doctor Manoly Lupul, now chair of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies who received the Order of Canada in 2003 for his contribution to multiculturalism.

Language suppression in old country spurred requests

In the 1960s, Ukrainian Canadians were deeply concerned with the fact that in their native land , the Soviets had suppressed their language, and that many of the children of immigrants were losing their sense of heritage. Lupul was involved in the movement by Ukrainian Canadians to have Canada recognize the importance of ethnocultural heritage.

Another 1960s proponent of of Canadian multiculturalism was Senator Paul Yuzyk who wrote “ Indians and Eskimos have been with us throughout our history; the British group is multicultural – English, Scots, Irish, Welsh; and with the setting up of other ethnic groups, […] Canada has become multicultural in fact … In keeping with the ideals of democracy and the spirit of Confederation, Canada should accept and guarantee the principle of the partnership of all peoples who have contributed to her development and progress.”

Lupul’s book leaves no doubt that the groundwork laid by Ukrainian Canadians in the 60s did much to pave the way for official Canadian multiculturalism.

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