By Emily Haldorson
Hello everyone, welcome, Bitaemo!
Thank you for joining us for the Global Day of Action for Peace in Ukraine. This rally is being hosted by Peace Alliance Winnipeg and the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians Winnipeg Branch. As we gather here in Winnipeg, people across the world are doing the same, calling for peace in Ukraine.
My name is Emily Halldorson, and I am the vice-president of the Winnipeg Branch of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, a national ethnocultural organization representing progressive Ukrainian Canadians across the country. Many of you have visited our branch at the Ukrainian Labour Temple in the North End, but for those who have not, I invite you to come visit us, and especially to see the way recent renovations to the building have finally brought our building into the 21st century with modern touches and accessibility, while also highlighting and protecting our history and heritage. Our organization’s roots nationally are here in Winnipeg, and the Labour Temple was built by volunteers in 1918-1919, just in time to be an important gathering place for strikers and activists during the Winnipeg General Strike. This is just one event in our significant role in the history of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, and in Canadian history more broadly.
Today, we gather at the Forks which has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years. This is Indigenous land, Treaty One territory, the traditional land of the Anishinaabe, Cree, Oji Cree and Dakota people, and the homeland of the Metis Nation. As a third generation Ukrainian Canadian, I continuously reflect upon the role of my relatives and our organization in colonization and the active role we all must play in contributing to reconciliation and a brighter future.
I want to start today by reading a statement from our national office:
The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians, representing Ukrainian-Canadians of many generations with ties to family and friends in Ukraine, is deeply concerned about the crisis in Ukraine.
We call upon the international community to bring about a comprehensive ceasefire between the Governments of Ukraine and Russia. A ceasefire is the immediate necessity to end the bloodshed, destruction, displacement and fear that has been put upon the people of Ukraine.
War is the basest form of political contention. It is a breakdown of the fraternal unity of peoples. The AUUC calls on the international community to pressure Russia to accept Ukraine’s call for a ceasefire and negotiations to restore peace and stability to Ukraine, to Europe and the world.
It is the common good and will of humanity that can end this conflict.
Peace for Ukraine!
Peace for Europe!
Peace for the World!
To me, this seems like a simple statement for peace. How could anyone disagree? I want to thank all of you for recognizing that we do actually need to stand up for peace and diplomacy, and for seeing the urgency in the situation and the need to stand in solidarity with us today. The message we are hearing in the media, from Canadian politicians and from many Ukrainian-Canadian organizations is not one of peace. Your presence here today is important in drawing attention to the fact that there are alternatives to the dominant narrative of war and aggression, and demanding better for all of humanity.
I want to recognize the following organizations who are demanding a peaceful resolution in Ukraine and who are joining us here today:
- United Jewish Peoples Order Winnipeg
- Islamic Social Services Association
- Manitoba Peace Council
- Venezuela Peace Committee of Winnipeg
- Immigration Matters in Canada Coalition
- Manitoba-Cuba Solidarity Committee
- African Communities of Manitoba
- Communist Party of Manitoba – Manitoba Committee
War brings out the worst in people, and shows the true nature of society. As Ukrainians have fled the country in recent days, as if the war itself wasn’t horrible enough, we have seen how the colour of your skin and your immigration status have elicited discriminatory treatment by both Ukrainian officials and members of the public. Today, we want to call out these practices for what they are – racist, and demand all people be treated equally as they attempt to secure their own safety and security. We want to reaffirm our message of peace, diplomacy, and respect for human life and dignity, and encourage all people in Winnipeg, Canada, Eastern Europe and the world, to join us.
Stop the war in Ukraine!
Russian troops out!