Thursday, 20 June 2013

Rainy, Flood Weather Cancels Event

Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption
Amid the emergencies declared today, the surging rivers, heavy flooding waters threatening lives and property in southern Alberta, the Opening Ceremonies of the New "Enemy Aliens" Exhibit in honor of Canada's First World War Internment Operations at the Banff Cave and Basin site were cancelled.

A flurry of phone messages, conflicting emails, and an hour later the Ukrainian community gathered together here, and it seems (although not confirmed) another equally unstoppable Ukrainian community gathered there, in Banff- hopefully in safety.  So on short notice, and with no assurance it was even happening, many Calgarians and guests weathered the rains to attend this commemorative event. 

Assumption Choir loft with Axios Choir
At 2 PM this afternoon a Service honoring the memory of those taken by the Canadian government as "enemy aliens" during WW1 was served at the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Assumption. Metropolitan Lawrence of the Ukrainian Catholic Church welcomed the steadily growing congregation. Prayers were lifted by clergy of local Ukrainian Catholic Churches, Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Croation Roman Catholic Churches, the service responses sung by Axios Ukrainian Choir of Edmonton (led by Boris Derow, supplemented by the voices of the Edmonton Ukrainian Male Chorus). The gathered congregation heard comments from the President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Paul Grod, and the Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, Vadym Prystaiko, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia to Canada, Veselko Grubišić. And then Canadian Minister for Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, The Honorable Jason Kenney spoke on behalf of Canada.

Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Paul Grod welcomed the assembled with a message about Canada's illplaced WW1 wartime xenophobia toward Eastern Europeans.  Canadians are applying the lessons in civil society to our nation, and the Cave and Basin will be a teaching tool for our collective future. Ambassador Prystaiko (left) indicated his respect for the lessons Ukraine can learn from Canada in aid of its developing civil society, that is, speaking truth to the world.  Ambassador  Grubišić (right) recognized how large Canada is, and how large democracies can grow and go forward by such events as today.  Canadian Minister of Immigration Kenney spoke about there being no legitimate national, military or security rationale in the development of the WW1 Internment Operations.  The truth of the matter, he indicated, was that the "Internment Operations" were motivated by a misguided, unjust xenophobic attitude toward Eastern Europeans.  The British Crown was, in fact, aware that Eastern Europeans were declaring their loyalty by their numbered participation in the war effort.  In Kenney's eyes, in historical perspective, it seems the "forced labour" of the Internees, may have added a terrible, shadowy dimension. Nonetheless, it is with honor we remember those affected by this sad time in Canadian history.  Their contributions to a greater Canada will always be remembered. 

A small reception including a short program of music from Axios Choir, and guests from Vinnytsia, Ukraine "Darmohray" continued in the parish hall.   After all these years, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association of Canada and the Government of Canada have come to a comfortable agreement with regards to this sad time in Canadian history.  Much to thank the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for as well!  May we continue to be proactive in honoring these truths through the educational programs in Canada's public schools and in our publicly funded Canadian Museums. 

To those who already arrived at the Banff site prior to the declared states of emergency, thanks for being there.  We, in Calgary, knew it was an event too important to cancel, and adapted to the situation.  Heartfelt concern for those evacuated or in peril due to the widespread infrastructure damage by natural causes in the Banff mountain pass areas and local states of emergency declared in Southern Alberta. 
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