The Politics of Multiculturalism: A Ukrainian-Canadian Memoir

By Kukushkin, Vadim | Canadian Slavonic Papers, September-December 2006 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Multiculturalism: A Ukrainian-Canadian Memoir


Kukushkin, Vadim, Canadian Slavonic Papers


Manoly R. Lupul. The Politics of Multiculturalism: A Ukrainian-Canadian Memoir. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 2005. xviii, 508 pp. $34.95, paper. $69.95, cloth

In The Politics of Multiculturalism, Manoly Lupul, former director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies and a prominent Ukrainian community activist, sums up over thirty years of his association with the framing and implementation of Canadian multiculturalism. Lupul's memoir is much more than a personal life story-it is an incisive analysis of Canadian ethnic and government politics. It provides the reader with a unique and very personal perspective on the subject, which conies from the author's intimate knowledge of the inside workings of community and government institutions involved in multiculturalism policy-making. A timely and much needed book, it presents a strong case for multiculturalism at a time when increased public concern with national security is leading some commentators to question Canada's accommodating approach to cultural diversity.

Like thousands of third-generation Ukrainian Canadians from the Prairies, Lupul was brought up in the bicultural world of Alberta's Ukrainian bloc settlement, which he describes in the first chapter. The author's graduate studies at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University, where he completed his doctorate, were formative in shaping his outlook as a liberal democrat with a strong commitment to cultural diversity. Lupul describes how his research on the education of Canadian linguistic and religious minorities (the subject of his doctoral dissertation) first brought his attention to the predicament of Ukrainians, threatened by assimilation in Anglo-dominated Canada and by Russification in the Soviet-ruled homeland, which he visited in 1968. Lupul's growing concern for the future of the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian culture was shared by many third- and second-generation Ukrainian-Canadian professionals of his generation, who forged an alliance with strongly nationalist post-1945 émigrés to achieve recognition of the community in Canadian public affairs.

Central to the book is the discussion of the relations between the Canadian state and the Ukrainian-Canadian community, which led the way in promoting official multiculturalism in the late 1960s and 1970s. Lupul writes about the successes and failures of implementing multiculturalism in a society still dominated by the largely AngloCanadian establishment. He focuses on several key projects initiated by the UkrainianCanadian community: the establishment of bilingual education programs in the Prairie provinces, the founding of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies in Edmonton and the Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto, and a number of heritagepreservation initiatives.

One learns from the book that carrying out multicultural projects involved constant lobbying and difficult negotiating with politicians and civil servants in Ottawa and the provincial capitals.

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