Today I am deeply proud to celebrate the 26th anniversary of Ukrainian Independence.
Though I was unable to be at this year's flag raising at the Ontario Legislature while touring Northern Ontario with the Premier, celebrating Ukrainian independence has always been important to me not just as a Ukrainian, but as a Canadian.
For decades, Ukrainians have fought for freedom and prosperity for themselves and their families. My own grandparents immigrated to Canada many years ago to build a better life for themselves free from Russian tyranny.
Unfortunately, the fight for freedom and democracy that my grandparents faced decades ago continues for families in Ukraine today. Even 26 years after declaring their independence, Russia's desire for territorial expansion and their aggressive invasion and occupation of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine means that the hard won freedoms of Ukrainians are under constant threat.
Canada has been a safe haven for those, like my grandparents, fleeing oppression in their homeland. Not only are we a safe haven though. As Canadians and as Ontarians, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in its fight for freedom, democracy and independence. I'm proud that the Government of Ontario has taken steps to support Ukraine as it defend our shared values of democracy and human rights. This makes me proud as a Ukrainian, proud as a Canadian, and proud as an Ontarian.
To help celebrate this important day, I would like to share a message from Ontario's Premier, Kathleen Wynne:
On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I am delighted to extend warm greetings to all those commemorating the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence.
As Ontarians, we take great pride in the special relationship that we share with Ukraine and its people. The people of Ontario, along with other Canadians, have worked to help build a stable democracy and economy in Ukraine. Most recently, the Government of Ontario has taken steps to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy and human rights.
As we come together today to commemorate Ukraine’s independence, our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, who continue to do everything possible to defend their independence — an independence that was so painstakingly earned 26 years ago.
The Ontario government is firm in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stand with the international community in our commitment to ending foreign aggression and intervention in Ukraine to ensure its freedom, democracy and independence. I stand in solidarity with you and all those who seek a peaceful, democratic and independent path for Ukraine.
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