The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) is a non-partisan, voluntary and non-profit research and educational organization committed to the articulation and promotion of the Ukrainian Canadian community's interests and to the defence of the civil liberties and human rights of Ukrainians in Canada and elsewhere.
UCCLA's roots trace back to 1984, when the Civil Liberties Commission (CLC) was constituted to deal with unfounded allegations about "Nazi war criminals" in Canada. During the course of the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, headed by the late Mr Justice Jules Deschênes, our efforts persuaded the Government of Canada to accept the principle that "all war criminals found in Canada, regardless of their ethnic, religious or racial origin, political beliefs, or the period or place in which crimes against humanity or war crimes are alleged to have been committed, should be brought to justice in Canada under Canadian criminal law." We continue to defend that position.
Mandated by the Ukrainian Canadian community to negotiate a timely and honourable Ukrainian Canadian Redress Settlement Agreement for the unjust internment of Ukrainian Canadians as "enemy aliens," during Canada's first national internment operations of 1914-1920, UCCLA has installed dozens of historical markers and several statues across Canada and continues to play a central role in negotiations between the Government and our community, aimed at securing recognition, restitution and reconciliation. We have been instrumental in increasing awareness of these internment operations and their crippling legacy for the Ukrainian Canadian community, as well as in promoting legislative initiatives, like Bill C 331 - The Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act.
UCCLA has also honoured the Ukrainian Canadian First World War soldier, Cpl. Filip Konowal, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and those Ukrainian Canadian veterans of the Second World War who were instrumental in organizing the Ukrainian Canadian Servicemen's Association and the Central Ukrainian Relief Bureau, which together helped save thousands of Ukrainian political refugees and Displaced Persons. Plaques and statues have been placed to commemorate these individuals and organizations in England, France and Ukraine.
Members of the Association continue to express the Ukrainian Canadian community's views on issues such as "affirmative action," the future of multiculturalism, and media treatment of Ukrainian issues. UCCLA has also organized major international campaigns aimed at exposing the duplicity of the Pulitzer Prize winner, Walter Duranty, who covered up news of the genocidal Great Famine (Holodomor) of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine, as well as calling upon the Government of Ukraine to establish an official Commission of Inquiry into Soviet War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. We also worked to ensure that the Canadian Museum of Human Rights is inclusive and fair in its treatment of all episodes of genocide that have befouled human history, before, during and after the 21st century, and not only in Europe but in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.
UCCLA continues to work to ensure that Ukrainian Canadians and Ukraine are represented in a fair and objective manner by media and in the public domain. We welcome your support to help us further our objectives.
First Chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association,
J.B. Gregorovich, with Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, Ottawa, March 1993
(Photo by F. Monte)
John B Gregorovich, Canmore, Alberta, October 2008. Photo by Sandra Semchuk
John Bohdan Gregorovich (born: Vegreville, Alberta, 24 January 1927, died of cancer, Toronto, 26 September 2016) – lawyer, bon vivant, gentleman farmer and singular Ukrainian Canadian leader
One of five children born to Mary and Alexander Gregorovich, pioneer settlers from western Ukraine who emigrated to this Dominion’s Northwest before the First World War, ‘JB,’ as his many friends called him, was inspired by their commitment to Ukrainian independence. He remained a life-long member of the Ukrainian National Federation, founded by his father in 1932 to counter pro-Soviet influences within the community.
Outwardly a man of few words, ‘JB’ was actually a master tactician – insightful, demanding and hard-working yet good humoured and willing to delegate authority to those he found competent. A lawyer, he accepted the trying responsibility of chairing the Civil Liberties Commission, organized in the spring of 1984 to respond to mendacious allegations about “thousands” of “Nazi war criminals” hiding in Canada. After the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, headed by Mr Justice Jules Deschênes, refuted that unfounded claim, ‘JB’ transformed the CLC into the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA), then successfully spearheaded various educational and commemorative projects, including a two-decades long campaign that secured symbolic redress for Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920.
As a veteran, and last president of Branch No. 360 of The Royal Canadian Legion, ‘JB’ promoted initiatives recalling Corporal Filip Konowal, a Great War soldier whose valour earned him a Victoria Cross and others who served overseas in the Second World War. Today historical markers honouring Canadian Ukrainians who fought for our country are found across Canada and in Ukraine, France and England, including the Heroes of their Day stained-glass window at St James’s, the parish church of Paddington, while Cpl Konowal will forever be remembered at the Battle of Hill 70 memorial, for much of which we must thank ‘JB’ and his UCCLA team.
Never hesitant about taking on the powerful for a good cause ‘JB’ would in later years call upon the Winnipeg-based Canadian Museum for Human Rights to be inclusive and equitable in representing genocide and human rights issues, a hope regrettably not achieved.
After retiring, JB and his wife, the scintillating actress Elizabeth Erskine Forbes-Mitchell, moved from their always welcoming home on Riverview Gardens in Toronto’s west end to a farm near Mount Forest, Ontario, relocating a cacophonous menagerie of several dozen dogs, cats, birds and the occasional reptile to a pleasing rural retreat. Sadly, in December 2002, Lizzie died, a loss John felt keenly. When he could no longer remain alone ‘JB’ decamped for Toronto, closer to siblings and the community he determinedly served. A voracious reader, he lived his final years in a spacious Mississauga apartment, surrounded by an extensive library, still enjoying an occasional glass of vintage Riesling. While less mobile than before, he began using emails to encourage others to move forward with the causes he had championed for as long as he could.
While ‘Lizzie’ and ‘JB’ never had children, their shared creativity and often whimsically expressed intelligence found lasting expression in UCCLA’s activism, which ‘JB’ was proudly aware of to his death. Those of us who carry forward with what he began have been reminded by his passing of a stark truth: there are no men of his mettle left in our community, not anymore.***
Professor Lubomyr Luciuk served ‘JB’ as the CLC’s, and later UCCLA’s, director of research