The relationship between the two countries is built on the legacy of mass Ukrainian immigration to Canada. The migration took place in four distinct waves, beginning in the late 19th century and continuing to the present day.
In the early part of the migration there were no relations as such, since during this era neither country was sovereign. Canada was a British Dominion, while Ukraine represented an ethnic region partitioned first between the Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires and later the Soviet Union and Poland. The political turmoil in the homeland saw the emergence of Ukrainian political movements in Canada that identified closely with the political situation there, notably nationalist and pro-soviet organizations.
The Second World War led to a period of intense political rivalry among these groups, centering on the question of Ukrainian independence. During this time, Canadian authorities—having assumed greater independence in its foreign affairs—attempted to manage the tension between the nationalist and pro-soviet camps while also trying to position itself to secure a working relationship with the Soviet Union in the post-war period. The tension between the two camps continued in the post-war period, especially on questions regarding recognition of the Soviet government in Ukraine, Ukrainian independence, and human rights in the Soviet Union. In the context of the Cold War, the Canadian government steered a middle course, careful not to antagonize the Soviet Union. Throughout the post-war period, Canada's formal diplomatic relations with the USSR were conducted through the all-Union Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although on minor issues diplomatic contact was made with the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (a theoretically sovereign entity with its own seat at the United Nations).
Diplomatic relations were established between Canada and Ukraine on January 27, 1992. Canada opened its embassy in Kieva in April 1992, and the Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa opened in October of that same year, paid for mostly by donations from the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Ukraine opened a consulate general in Toronto in 1993 and announced plans to open another in Edmonton in 2008. Canada also has a consulate in Lviv.
High level visits
In 1992, the Governor General of Canada, Ramon Hnatyshyn, visited Ukraine—his ancestral homeland with which he closely identified—in his capacity as Vice-Regent. This was followed in 2005 by the formal state visit of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and again in 2009 by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. In 1994, Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma, in a gesture recognizing the importance of Ukraine-Canada relations, undertook a visit to Canada, his first state visit abroad. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien visited Ukraine in 1999. In 2008, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko travelled to Ottawa and other centres as part of a state visit. While in Ottawa, he addressed a joint meeting of the House of Commons and Senate of the Canadian Parliament, a rare privilege extended foreign dignitaries.
The main Canadian political parties are keen to be seen promoting democratic reform initiatives in Ukraine, encouraging Ukraine to engage and possibly join Western institutions such as the EU, NATO while distancing itself from Russia. This is a delicate matter as the East vs West trajectory (Russia vs. Europe) is a normally sensitive political issue in Ukraine. Direct involvement would violate international protocol (seen as interference in Ukraine's internal affairs), and possibly undercut pro-Western forces in the country. Nevertheless, many Canadians (including members of parliament, and former Prime Minister John Turner) were part of an international observer team that monitored Ukraine's 2004 presidential election. Canadian media were typically sympathetic to the forces of the Orange Revolution, with the national magazine Maclean's running a front page story on the protests. Documented election irregularities by observer teams led to a re-run of the election resulting in the presidential electoral victory of the pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko. Canadian Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson, Canada's head-of-state representative, would attend Yushchenko's investiture wearing an orange scarf, the colour of the pro-Western movement.
Much about the relationship is based on the legacy of migration. However, Ukrainians, migrating to Canada, did not come equally from all parts of Ukraine, nor did they move equally to all parts of Canada. The largest number of Ukrainian immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries settled in the Canadian Prairies and accounts for this region's strong cultural and historical ties with Ukraine, notably Western Ukraine from whence the majority came. Ontario has also been a province that has attracted Ukrainian immigrants, especially in the immediate post-war period. Recent immigration to Canada from post-independence Ukraine (post-1991) is a function of resumed immigration flows (prevented during the Soviet period) and targeted provincial immigration programs. The latter has resulted in migrants coming to those provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba) identifying Ukraine as a potentially significant area of immigrant recruitment for skilled workers.
The majority of Ukrainians who migrated to the Canadian province of Alberta between 1893 and 1929 came from a few small districts in western Ukraine, many of them in modern-day Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast. Consequently, Alberta's premier Ralph Klein visited Ivano-Frankivsk in 2002, reciprocated by a subsequent visit to Edmonton from the governor of Ivano-Frankivsk, Mykhailo Vyshyvaniuk, at which time the two governments signed a trade and cooperation agreement. Alberta is expected to sign a similar document with neighbouring Lviv Oblast.[dated info] Other recent significant contacts at the provincial level include Premier Roy Romanow's official visit to Ukraine in 1995 and the visit of Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma to Saskatchewan at the invitation of Premier Romanow (2000), as well as delegations to Ukraine from Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan at the ministerial level, all of which have led to a series of concluded agreements and memoranda of understanding on culture, education and economic matters. As a means to increasing prospective relations, a number of provincial jurisdictions have also established formal Advisory Committees (Saskatchewan-Ukraine Advisory Committee, Manitoba-Ukraine Secretariat, Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations).
Finally, beyond a number of twinning regional agreements, e.g. Saskatchewan-Chernivtsi oblast, a number of Canadian cities are also twinned with Ukrainian municipal counterparts, strengthening cultural and social contacts at the local level. Twinned cities include Toronto/Kiev, Winnipeg/Lviv, Vancouver/Odessa, and Saskatoon/Chernivtsi.
Humanitarian and development aid to Ukraine
Canadian organizations, including non-governmental, are active in providing different kinds of aid to Ukraine. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the establishment of Centre for Small Business and Economic Development (SBEDIF) in Ivano-Frankivsk. An additional $3.8 million (CAD) was committed for a regional network project to support small business growth and economic development in five additional communities in the same oblast of Western Ukraine.
The Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce (CUCC) plays an important role in promoting trade and business ties between the two countries.
The longest standing educational partnership at the post-secondary level is that of between the University of Saskatchewan and Chernivtsi National University. An inter-university agreement has been in existence between the two partners since 1977. The relationship, however, currently operates through the Ramon Hnatyshyn Canadian Studies Centre, a research and teaching unit created in 2003 and devoted to Canadian studies at Chernvitsi National University. The National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy has also established a Canadian Studies Center in 2009 to help facilitate the study of Canada and to foster greater inter-university contact and scholarly exchange.
Bilateral exchanges between Canadian and Ukrainian universities exist in the sciences, social sciences and humanities across a variety of fields. Canadian universities and colleges with active exchange programs include: University of Alberta, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, Queen's University, St. Thomas More College and MacEwan College.
In 1991, with the support of the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation of Toronto, the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program (CUPP) was created. CUPP has provided Ukrainian university students with an opportunity to learn how democracy functions in Canada by working closely with Canadian Members of Parliament of all parties. Ukrainian students are competitively selected from among 48 participating institutions of higher-learning in Ukraine.
- ^a The capital of Ukraine (commonly "Kiev" in English) is officially recognized by both the Canadian and Ukrainian governments as Kyiv in all English communications, (although not in French, where Kiev is still used).
- Canadian Embassy in Kiev, Government of Canada
- See Bohdan Kordan (2001), Canada and the Ukrainian Question, 1939-1945: A Study in Statecraft. Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
- See Lubomyr Luciuk (2000), Searching For Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada and the Migration of Memory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- For a discussion of the difficulties associated with Western recognition of Ukraine's declaration of independence, see Bohdan S. Kordan, Other Anxieties: Ukraine, Russia and the West. Kingston: Kashtan Press, 1994.
- For a detailed discussion of Canada's early diplomatic engagement with Canada, see Bohdan Kordan, "Canadian Ukrainian Relations: Articulating the Canadian Interest," in L. Hajda, ed. (1996), Ukraine in the World: Studies in the International Relations and Security Structure of a Newly Independent State. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Edmonton Journal
- Embassy of Ukraine in Canada - Political Affairs
- Minister Day Announces Free Trade Talks with Ukraine, Government of Canada (September 22, 2009)
- Tymoshenko hopes for more effective cooperation with Canada after creation of free trade area, Interfax-Ukraine (September 23, 2009)
- See Lubomyr Y. Luciuk and Bohdan S. Kordan (1989), Creating a Landscape: A Geography of Ukrainians in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
- See http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=6cadf74a-ea58-4c9b-8575-095dfaf562f0; http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=27303;http://www.international.alberta.ca/561.cfm; and http://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/press/top/1999/04/1999-04-13-02.html
- See http://www.gov.sk.ca/news?newsId=a76886de-76de-4fdd-bc17-0d001dfa0c5c
- Calendar of events, Canada-Ukraine Chamber of Commerce
- Embassy of Ukraine in Canada - Political Affairs (English) /(Ukrainian)
- Canadian Embassy in Kiev - Canada & Ukraine (English) / (French) /(Ukrainian)