In an unprecedented move, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized to the Ukrainian community on behalf of the federal government after a group of Ukrainian Canadian veterans celebrated a veteran who had fought for a Nazi unit during World War II.
The incident took place on February 18th, at a Ukrainian veterans’ day event in Montreal. During the event, a group of veterans who had fought for the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during the Second World War, celebrated the life of Mykola Ostrosky, who had fought alongside a Nazi SS unit. The celebration sparked a wave of outrage among members of the Ukrainian and Jewish communities, who found the celebration distasteful and disrespectful to both Holocaust victims and to soldiers who fought against Nazism during the war.
In response to the controversy, Prime Minister Trudeau issued a statement apologizing for the embarrassing situation.
“On behalf of the government of Canada, I want to express my sincere regret for the events this week in Montreal. We deeply apologize for any hurt or confusion this event may have caused to Jewish and other Canadian communities,” said Trudeau.
The Prime Minister also went on to say that the celebration of Ostrosky’s life “in no way sets out to deny or diminish the abhorrent tragedy and suffering of the Holocaust, and the millions of innocent people who perished at the hands of the Nazis.”
Trudeau also acknowledged the difficult decision the UPA had to make during World War II, and reaffirmed the Canadian government’s commitment to ensuring that the Holocaust and all of its horrors are never forgotten or repeated.
The apology has been welcomed by the Jewish and Ukrainian communities, who have accepted the Prime Minister’s words. The apology has also set a precedent for the Canadian government to take a more active role in honoring the victims of the Holocaust and other atrocities.