70th Anniversary of Ukrainian post WW2 migration to WA
and 27th Anniversary of Ukrainian Indepedence
Celebratory Concert and Banquet Lunch
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, the Honourable Paul Papalia CSC MLA
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests, the Honourable Tony Krstic-evic MLA
Consular Corps - Distinguished guests - Ladies and Gentlemen – Boys and Girls
It is with pride that I stand before you today to Commemorate and remember our parents and grandparents who migrated from war torn Europe to Western Australia, 70 years ago.
Today is a time to celebrate those people who made the decision to leave a war torn Europe and to travel half way around the world to Australia. It is a time to remember, that initiative taken by our pioneers who arrived in boats seventy years ago; the difficult times they went through and the sacrifices they made to enable us their children to gain an education and to be successful in every sphere of life and also to be part of the broader Ukrainian community.
It is with pride that we remember our parents and grandparents who were reluctant migrants from Ukraine and their achievements in this wonderful country Australia, which we now call our own.
It is from their initiative and resilience and hard work that have given us the opportunity to succeed in Australia. Most of them had to learn a new language, acquire new skills and toil hard but through all of this they found time to come together to build the first Ukrainian Hall in Leederville, the churches, commence a school, choirs, soccer teams and host many Ukrainian cultural events that were very important to them.
The first Ukrainians emigrants arrived at the port of Fremantle on October 11, 1948 on the boat "Kanimbla". The initial group consisting of 60 men from Germany were politely welcomed by the WA authorities. They formed a dancing group and a choir and held a concert for West Australians. This was the first ever Ukrainian concert in Western Australia.
The boats continued to arrive to Fremantle to Melbourne, to Sydney and to Adelaide; in 1948 SS Svalbard; SS Wooster Victory; Protea; in 1949 - SS Nea Hellas; SS Mozaffari; Anna Salen; SS Amarapoora; just to name a few - some of the boats (for example the SS Wooster Victory and Skaugum) returned many times and so the arrivals and immigrants continue to grow & grow into 1950, 1951, 1952 and beyond….
Several key dates -
February 25 1950 the first AGM of Ukrainians in Perth
March 8, 1950 the Taras Shevchenko Central Ukrainian School was formed amalgamating several schools from outer lying suburbs.
June 6, 1951 – the Ukrainian Association Choir was formed.
1952 – The Kyiv Soccer (now Inglewood United) Club was commenced.
The Ukrainian Community flourishes with the opening of the Leederville Ukrainian Hall (which is later reclaimed for the Kwinana Freeway extensions).
The 50’s 60’s and 70’s saw a unprecedented growth in our community - this is the period that the majority us were born. This is a period that we are so proud of - this is the period that we continue to try to emulate
In August 24, 1991 Ukraine gains her independence and again there is another wave of migration – today we also celebrate that great milestone which was achieved 27 yrs ago
We are now in the current era – we are the masters of our lives - we can choose and change what we do with our lives but our past is indelibly written into the annals of Australian History and we are the custodians of that past.
Permit me to recall that past with the closing paragraph of a letter penned by the Ukrainian National Group “SS Amarapoora” who arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia on April 19, 1949
“We wish to dwell, work and earn our living as decent, loyal and free people in a freedom loving and democratic land. The Government and people of Australia have opened wide their hospitable doors to the homeless. We are devoted to prove by our deeds that we are in no-way a burden to the Australian Commonwealth and the Australian people and we assure you Sir, that we will exert ourselves to the utmost and to carry out our duty. “
And they did …
Our Ukrainian community continues to grow and continues to assimilate, we have integrated well - but also we share a bond with those who arrived 70 years, it is because of this link that we have a responsibility to honour and remember our pioneers.