Thursday, January 23, 2014

What is Ukraine

Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday Jan 22nd) , having read so much disturbing news coming out of Ukraine on the Yanukovych regime’s cynical repression of democracy protesters, I came across a very moving piece by Vitaly Haidukevych. 

For me, it reflects the enlightened and inspiring outlook of so many people in Ukraine who want to build a beautiful country for themselves and their children. Amid the violence, not to mention the pretty lousy coverage of events by the CBC and other Canadian and international media, I thought that it would be useful to share it in English with our friends who do not read Ukrainian. As I am not a professional translator, I thank the author and readers for their indulgence, but nevertheless hope that with the assistance of Internet technology I have captured the spirit of the original which can be found at

Taras Pidzamecky, CEO    Jan 22, 2014

What is Ukraine?

By Vitaly Haidukevych

It’s the football fans of different clubs who overlook the fundamental hostility dividing them and become a Great Indignant Army that strikes fear into the trash in and out of uniform.

It’s the spiritual leader of the Muslims who conveys greetings and words of respect for the spiritual leader of the Greek Catholics.

It’s the famous actress with infinitely kind eyes who calls upon wives, mothers and grandmothers to stand before the security forces, for mothers to call upon their children in uniform to come to their senses and go over to the people.

It’s the young man detained before a kangaroo court for rioting, who facing the prospect of a 15 year prison sentence, dictates the unwritten portion of his unfinished children's book to his friends!

It’s the mayor of a town who guarantees casualties completely safe medical treatment 600 kilometers from the place of battle, if in the capital the doctors lack conscience, heart, or courage...

It’s the interior ministry troops who with gratitude to the protesters blocking them in so they can’t go fight against their own people, provide firewood to the protesters blockading them...

It’s the blind people with guides holding trays of sandwiches to host protesters - they also help, they are also of service!

It’s the beautiful little girl actress who recounts with tremendous excitement in her eyes how she defended people from monsters on Hrushevskoho Street and how, as she sat at the base of a lamp post, the animals in uniform threw grenades at her. 

It’s the firearm owners who in no uncertain terms intimate to the head of the Organized Crime Group called the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to sow a storm lest he not be pleased with the harvest. 

It’s the residents who overnight organize self-defense teams and capture imported bandits in the middle of town.

It’s when my child, having watched the news, greets me in the morning after the night shift with the question: "Dad who attacked our Independence?" and continues “Are you off to the Maidan or to work?”

I do not know how many of us they will imprison, beat, kidnap (or, God forbid, worse). I don’t know whether the people will prevail now, or a little later. But He cannot not win. God (no matter what name whomever calls Him, and how He is addressed) has already kissed our foreheads.

For Ukraine is detesting to your core the state machine, but loving to tears all these incredible people. 

by Taras Pidzamecky with thanks to the author for his indulgence (and inspiration!)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Write to John Baird in support of Maidan

IF you want to ask the Canadian government to put pressure on the Ukrainian government to back down on the draconian and undemocratic laws it has recently passed, send this email to John Baird, Canada's Foreign Minister. Copy your local MP as well. Use the email provided below:

Subject: Your help is requested - on behalf of Canadians of Ukrainian descent, and all citizens of Canada   

Honorable Minister Baird,

Recent repeated vicious attacks in Ukraine on students, journalists, political figures and members of the Ukrainian Parliament (The Rada) give us reason to worry about complete disregard of basic human rights and free speech, guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine and recognized by the United Nations as Universal Rights. Most of the victims are beaten with wooden clubs on the face and head and remain maimed or invalids for the rest of their lives.

As the members of the peaceful protest movement have no way of defending themselves from the attacking governmental forces, they have appealed to the international community. Academics, political figures, community leaders and all educated democratic citizens are echoing what the European Press is saying - The regime is afraid of nothing except of targeted sanctions against government officials who give these terrorizing orders to beat, maim and disfigure.

We implore you as our Representative in Canadian Parliament to save lives and to stop the human rights abuses by urging the Government of Canada and our Parliament to show vigorous public consideration of applying targeted sanctions. This, we hope,  would stop the vicious attacks on innocent victims.

We also ask you to urge our Parliament to look into the proceeds of corruption and the money laundering through holding property in Canada and Canadian bank accounts by Ukrainian officials.

Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely yours, 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Black Thursday for Ukrainian Democracy

Ukraine's Parliament passed 27 laws on Thursday severely restricting the right of Ukrainian citizens to gather and demonstrate against the government. Below is a listing of the changes. The Ukrainian version follows the English.

You can also read a couple of articles from The Guardian about this here: Ukraine Passes Sweeping Law to Crack Down on Protests and here: Brawl Breaks out in Ukrainian Parliament

27 points of the new reality.

1.   A procession of more than 5 cars – loss of license and impounding of vehicle for 2 years.
2.   For conducting an unlicensed bureau of information – confiscation of equipment and materials + heavy fine.
3.   Violation of peaceful assembly – up to 10 days.
4.   Participation in peaceful gatherings in helmet (head gear), in uniform, with fire – up to 10 days.
5.   Installation of tents, stages and even sound systems without permission of police – up to 15 days.
6.   Contempt of court –15 days.
7.   Failure to restrict access to the Internet – fine $900.
8.   Failure to comply with the “legitimate demands” of Ukraine’s Security Service – a fine of more than $250.
9.   Summons for administrative offenses do not have to be delivered to the alleged violator (it is enough hand them to so-called “witnesses”).
10. Confirmation of receipt of summons now require not only a signature, but “any other information”
11. Blocking access to housing (completely new criminal provision) – 6 years.
12. Slander (returned to the Criminal Code) – 2 years.
13. The spread of extremist materials – 3 years.
14. “Group violations of public order” – 2 years.
15. Riots –10 or even 15 years – any participant of the Maidan can be imprisoned accordingly, not to mention other articles.
16. Gathering information about Ministry of Internal Affairs police, judges and similar persons – 3 years.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blast from the Sudbury Past

AN exterior shot of the old Sudbury location circa 1960s
Sonia Peczeniuk dropped by our Sudbury branch with an album of old photos that brought back memories from days gone by. The photos show our old location down the street from where we are now. Her father Nestor was the manager of the Ukrainian Co-op grocery.

In the very old days the credit union was set up at the back of the store, before moving to an office next door to the co-op.

Interior shot of the old Ukrainian Co-op
"I remember it like yesterday," says Branch Manager Angela Andlar. "It was a grocery store where memebrs could purchase their groceries on account when they didn't have money. And they would deliver the groceries to your house."

In fact, it is a little known fact that Angela's mother was visiting the Co-op the day she went into labour and the Co-op's delivery van rushed her to the hospital to give birth. Now that is service old school.

You can see a few more pictures on our Facebook page in the album titled: A look back at Sudbury.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chaika's 8th Annual Comedy Night

February 8th is turning out to be an evening packed full of fun activities. First we told you about the Trivia Night at St. George Church in Oshawa, now we find out that Chaika Song and Dance Ensemble in Hamilton is holding their annual comedy night on February 8th as well. Your correspondent is saddened that he can't split himself in two to attend both events!

We're giving you a fair warning though, please don't go to this event if you are someone who gets easily offended. This might not be the event for you.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Trivia Night! in Oshawa

We've noticed a fun new trend of Ukrainian Churches holding trivia nights as a way to raise funds. We've had the great pleasure of participating (and even winning once) in the St. Joseph Church Trivia Night in Oakville, and we hear the one at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in St. Catharines is fun too (haven't had a chance to attend yet). Anyway, the latest addition to this trend is St. George's Church in Oshawa!

Ukrainian Credit Union Limited is putting a team together and we are going to do our darndest to take home the trophy. We'd love to see you there. Details are on the image below.