Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

The Alberta Press on Ukrainians in Canada during World War II: Two Case Studies

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

The Alberta Press on Ukrainians in Canada during World War II: Two Case Studies

Article excerpt


This paper discusses the coverage given to Ukrainian Canadian topics in two Alberta newspapers, the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Bulletin, during the World War II years. Examples of the subjects included in the essay are Ukrainian Canadian participation in the war effort through enlistments in the Canadian armed forces and other ways, the banning of the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association, the formation of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, the raising of the matter of Ukrainian independence, and the Canadian conscription plebiscite of 27 April 1942. The two newspapers published in the provincial capital accorded significant attention to Ukrainian Canadian issues, a coverage that was paralleled by the many stories that related to Ukraine, a major battleground in the war.


Cet article porte sur la couverture donnee a des sujets concernant les Canadiens ukrainiens dans deux journaux albertains, le Edmonton Journal et le Edmonton Bulletin, pendant la deuxieme guerre mondiale. Y sont inclus par exemple: leur participation a l'effort de guerre en s'engageant dans les forces armees canadiennes et autrement, la proscription de l'Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association et la formation du Ukrainian Canadian Committee, la question de l'independance ukrainienne et le plebiscite du 27 avril 1942 sur la conscription au Canada. Les deux journaux, publies dans la capitale provinciale, ont porte une tres grande attention a tout ce qui touche les Canadiens ukrainiens. Ils leur accorderent une couverture equivalente a celle des nombreux reportages sur l'Ukraine, un champ de bataille majeur pendant la guerre.


The Second World War has been considered a turning point in the history of Ukrainians in Canada. Among many other things, it was during the war years that the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA), a pro-Soviet organization with thousands of members, was banned and the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, an umbrella organization which included groups that were not pro-Soviet, was formed. In an essay on Alberta's Ukrainians during the Second World War, Peter Melnycky pointed out that this large ethnocultural group was subjected to a scrutiny reminiscent of that which it experienced at the time of the Great War of 1914-18. (1) Indeed, the World War II years were characterized by public declarations of loyalty to Canada by different Ukrainian organizations. They were also distinguished by acts of support for the Canadian war effort. In commenting on Ukrainian participation in the war effort through enlistments in the Canadian forces, Michael Luchkovich, Canada's first member of Parliament of Ukrainian origin, quoted the Winnipeg Free Press, which noted that Ukrainians were now "first class citizens, thoroughly imbued with Canadian ideals." (2) In his book on Ukrainian Canadians during the Second World War, Thomas Prymak remarked that veterans, proud of the part they played in the war, "fully expected to be accorded an honourable place in the mosaic of Canadian society." (3)

The war also affected Ukrainians in Canada in another way. The boundaries of Ukraine, which before the outbreak of war were governed by four jurisdictions--namely, Soviet, Polish, Romanian, and Czechoslovakian--shifted several times. After the war, Ukrainian territories formerly in Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia were merged with lands further east to form a reconstituted Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic within the Soviet Union. The majority of Canada's Ukrainians had roots in the western regions of Ukraine (especially the territories under interwar Poland and Romania). Members of pro-Soviet organizations in Canada were sympathetic to Soviet claims to western Ukrainian territories. In the first years of the war, the territories formerly under Poland and Romania came under Soviet rule, only to fall to Germany or Romania after the Nazi invasion of the USSR on 22 June 1941. …

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