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The Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative

Peter and Doris Kule In the fall of 2006 Drs. Peter and Doris Kule gave a lead donation of $100,000 to create an endowment for the study of the Ukrainian Diaspora. Through this endowment the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies established the Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative within its Ukrainian Canadian Program (now the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Centre at CIUS). The Diaspora Initiative is headed by Dr. Serge Cipko, an historian and the author of many studies on Ukrainian settlements abroad.

Diaspora studies are a growing area of academic interest at universities around the world. In recent years a number of Diaspora studies institutes and centres have been established in Ukraine.

The Diaspora Initiative will add an international dimension to the work of the Ukrainian Canadian Program.

Since independence, the Ukrainian Diaspora has increased significantly because of large-scale emigration. Estimates of the number of Ukrainian citizens working abroad in recent years have ranged from 2 million to as high as 7 million. Many of them have been employed in neighbouring countries (Russia and Poland), but hundreds of thousands are also in countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.

The Ukrainian World Congress estimates that the “Ukrainian population in the diaspora is around 20 mln., most of whom were born outside Ukraine.” If that estimate is accepted, the Ukrainian diaspora is equivalent in size to the population of Australia or the combined populations of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

The story of the Ukrainian diaspora is an ongoing and evolving one. The Diaspora Initiative will conduct in-depth studies of Ukrainian communities outside of Ukraine, develop comparative research, and maintain close ties with scholars in Canada and abroad.


The following are some examples of the work carried out in Ukrainian diaspora studies.

Electronic newsletter: As part of its mandate to keep up with trends in contemporary Ukrainian migration and disseminate up-to-date information about the Ukrainian diaspora, the Diaspora Initiative issues an electronic newsletter entitled “Ukrainians Abroad: News and Views.” It is posted approximately once every three weeks to interested individuals on five continents – North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia. Apart from featuring news stories that have appeared in the international press, the newsletter alerts readers to new publications in the field of Ukrainian diaspora studies and provides links to sites of interest. A unique feature of “Ukrainians Abroad” is the translations of selected articles prepared in-house by the UDSI.

For a free subscription, write to

Studies on contemporary Ukrainian migration: These include the review article, “Migration from and to Ukraine at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century,” Journal of Ukrainian Studies 31, nos. 1–2 (Summer–Winter 2006): 173–190.

Ukrainians in the Americas:

In addition to studying emerging areas of Ukrainian settlement since independence, the Diaspora Initiative has a keen interest in the longer-established Ukrainian communities in the United States and Latin America. The Diaspora Initiative has a particularly strong expertise in the history of Ukrainian settlement in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. It has been preparing entries for the internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine on “Chile”; “Cuba”; “Mexico”; “Paraguay”; “Spain”; and “Uruguay.” An example of the work conducted on Ukrainians in South America is the article by Serge Cipko and John Lehr, “Volhynia in the New World: Ukrainian Settlement in Paraguay,” Ukrainskyi vymir 4 (2006): 86–98. That article was translated into Ukrainian as “Volyn u novomu sviti: ukrainski poselennia v Parahvai” in Ukrainoznavstvo, no. 2 (2006): 289–293, and is available online.

The Ukrainian Diaspora and the Holodomor

An ongoing interest of the Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative (UDSI) is the subject of international responses to the 1932–33 famine in Ukraine. The UDSI Coordinator has been studying Canadian responses to the famine and plans to write a book on the topic. Journalistic articles written to date include one about Edmonton Journal coverage on the famine and a piece about Pope Pius XI’s reaction to the famine as covered in the Western Catholic. Three others that are also available online are “Michael Luchkovich and the Famine,” “The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan and the Holodomor,” and the “USSR’s Admission to the League of Nations and the Holodomor,” all published in the Ukrainian Weekly during 2011.

Evaluation and Consultation:

The Diaspora Initiative has evaluated articles for learned journals and responded to queries from academics, students, and the general public in Canada and abroad. It has facilitated the research of visiting scholars by directing them to sources, providing them with materials, and assisting in various other ways.

Conferences and guest lectures:

The Diaspora Initiative has been active in presenting papers at conferences and community forums.

Contact details:

Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative
Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies
4-30 Pembina Hall
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta,

Tel. (780) 492-3765
Fax: (780) 492-4967



Ukrainian Diaspora Studies Initiative