Sept. 7 will now be Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Day in Alberta
Bill passed unanimously by MLAs from all parties
Alberta will now designate Sept. 7 as Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Day, starting in 2017.
On Tuesday afternoon, MLAs from all parties at the Alberta legislature unanimously passed Bill 26, the Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Act, through first, second and third readings.
The date marks the day in 1891 when the first documented settlers from Ukraine, Ivan Pylypiw and Vasyl Eleniak, came to the province.
The bill also recognizes the year that started on Sept. 7, 2016, as Ukrainian-Canadian Heritage Year.
"Ukrainian culture has become a part of Alberta culture," Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous told the legislature.
There are 345,000 people of Ukrainian heritage in Alberta. Bilous said his own grandfather, a shoemaker, came to Canada from Ukraine nearly 90 years ago.
"Albertans of Ukrainian heritage have made tremendous contributions in every aspect of Alberta society, from business and industry to academia, public service, culture and sports," he said.
"Ukrainian Albertans have made Alberta a better place for all of us."
This is only the fifth time in the history of the Alberta legislature that a bill has passed through all stages in one day.
Bilous was joined at an afternoon ceremony marking the bill by Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Alberta Provincial Council and Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Canada.
Shevchenko said he was overwhelmed with gratitude and pride.
"I think we're very grateful to the wonderful province of Alberta for showing so respect to the Ukrainians who have come here," he said.