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Margareta Shpir, James Bezan, Lisa ShymkoC. Bidiak, W. Rodak, L. Shymko, Jason Kenney, M. Shpir, James Bezan, Raynell Andreychuk,


JUNE 25, 2008

On Thursday, June 19, 2008, two Ukrainian-Canadians — MP James Bezan and Senator Raynell Andreychuk— the parliamentary architects of Canada’s Holodomor Law— were honoured in Toronto. The well-attended event was organized by Canadian Friends of Ukraine, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, and League of Ukrainian Canadian Women. The event was sponsored by the BCU Foundation, a foundation of Buduchnist Credit Union.

In her opening remarks, Canadian Friends of Ukraine Acting President, Margareta Shpir, welcomed the evening’s guests and dignitaries, emphasizing the historic significance of the parliamentary work carried out by Senator Andreychuk and MP James Bezan in the Senate and House of Commons.

The Most Rev. Bishop Jurij, Archbishop of Toronto and the Eastern Eparch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, delivered the Invocation.

Among the special guests attending the event was the Hon. Jason Kenney, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity). In his greetings on behalf of the Government of Canada, Secretary of State Kenney commended Senator Andreychuk and James Bezan on their work as the parliamentary architects of the Holodomor law and congratulated the Ukrainian community on this momentous achievement. In his remarks, the Hon. Jason Kenney spoke about the historic significance of the meeting between Prime Minister Harper and Ukrainian President Yushchenko this past May, during which time the issue of the Holodomor was discussed. Notwithstanding opposing pressure from bureaucrats and foreign diplomats, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a principled decision to recognize the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide.

In her remarks, Conservative Senator Raynell Andreychuk, a recent recipient of the Order of Yaroslav the Wise from Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko, spoke about her efforts in 2003 to spearhead a resolution in the Senate recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. Sadly, at that time, the government of the day did not have the political will to support a similar resolution in the House of Commons. Senator Andreychuk nevertheless remained committed to this issue and when the Harper government came to power, the Senator worked closely with Conservative MP James Bezan and Secretary of State Jason Kenney to ensure that James Bezan’s Private Member’s Bill on the Holodomor would have all-party support and become law.

In an emotional speech, Manitoba Conservative MP James Bezan spoke about his Ukrainian roots and how the passage of the Holodomor legislation became a personal mission for him. Mr. Bezan talked about how he had begun work on the law 17 months ago, having spent a great deal of time researching the facts of the Ukrainian forced famine and studying the international law on genocide. Mr. Bezan thanked Canadian Friends of Ukraine for their help in the drafting the Canadian legislation and thanked the League of Ukrainian Canadians for organizing a successful on-line petition in support of Bill C-459. All of the speakers received standing ovations from the audience.

In recognition of their work as the parliamentary architects of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide Law in Canada, the evening’s honorees, Senator Raynell Andreychuk and MP James Bezan, were presented with custom-engraved crystal awards. Participating in the award presentation were Oleh Romanyschyn (President, LUC) and Chrystyna Bidiak (President, LUCW).

Officiating at the event, Lisa Shymko (Director, Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Centre), thanked the countless organizations for their support and attendance and outlined the many projects undertaken by Canadian Friends of Ukraine (CFU) and the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC) to raise public awareness about the Holodomor in Canada and around the world. Guests were also invited to view the historic exhibit Holodomor: Genocide by Famine organized by LUC, part of which was on display. Greetings on behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, were delivered by UCC President, Paul Grod, who, together with Holodomor survivor, Stefan Horlatsch (Past President of Canadian Friends of Ukraine) made a presentation to the evening’s honored guests.

In a surprise presentation, two officially bound copies of Canada’s historic law recognizing the Ukrainian Holodomor as an act of genocide were brought from Ottawa by Senator Andreychuk and MP James Bezan. One copy was presented to Irene Mycak, Chair of the National Holodomor Commemoration Committee as a gift to the Ukrainian community in Canada, the other was presented to Canadian Friends of Ukraine as a gift for the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Centre in Kyiv at the National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine. One day earlier, the first bound copy of the Holodomor Law was officially presented to Prime Minister Harper.

All guests received custom printed copies of Bill C-459. The audience was also treated to a delightful musical performance by the Ukrainian-Canadian Youth Ensemble “Prolisok” (Olesia Konyk, Conductor and Michael Romaniuk, Musical Director).

Following the official program, Senator Andreychuk and MP James Bezan were surrounded by crowds of guests posing for photographs and offering kind words of appreciation for a job well-done.

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