Ukrainian workers over the past century have made heroic contributions to the struggle for socialism in Europe and North America. This should not be forgotten even though reactionary forces currently have the political ascendency in Western Ukraine.
The toppling of a Soviet war memorial in the Western Ukrainian town of Stryi spits upon everyone who died fighting the Nazis. It’s an attack on the millions of Ukrainians who fought heroically in the Red Army and the many thousands who were anti-Nazi partisans.
At least 25 statues of Lenin — the leader of the 1917 October Socialist Revolution — have been toppled. Meanwhile wreaths have been placed upon statues of the fascist Stepan Bandera, whose followers murdered Jewish and Polish people.
These actions go hand in hand with demanding a Ukrainian NAFTA-type agreement that would make the country a vassal of European and U.S. banks.
Hanging the Confederate flag of the U.S. slave masters inside Kiev’s City Hall, as those who put the new Kiev regime in power did, dirties the revolutionary traditions of Ukrainian workers and peasants.
In the early 20th century, Ukrainian immigrants founded meeting halls in the United States and Canada called labor temples. The Ukrainian Labor Temple in Winnipeg, Canada, still stands, though it was raided by police during the 1919 Winnipeg general strike.
Over its entrance are two clasping hands reaching across a globe with the slogan “Workers of the World Unite.” The pro-Soviet Ukrainian Labor News was published there weekly. (Manitoba Historical Society)
It was Ukrainian immigrants who were the backbone of the communist movement in Western Canada. Following the October Revolution, the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association founded 25 branches in Saskatchewan alone. (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)
This association supported the 1931 coal miners’ strike in Bienfait, Saskatchewan. The workers were organized by the Workers Unity League, which was led by Communist Party members.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police killed three of these strikers on September 29, 1931, in nearby Estevan. The inscription “Murdered by RCMP” is on their tombstones. Many more workers were wounded or arrested.
The Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association was shut down by the “Mounties” in January 1940. The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians continues the ULFTA’s progressive traditions.