On October 2-4, 2015, The Ukrainian National Federation Winnipeg Branch hosted the 38th National Convention of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada (UNF) and Affiliate Organizations. Sixty UNF members from 17 branches and affiliate organizations participated in the Convention.
The UNF is one the longest continuously running Ukrainian organizations in Canada, tracing its roots to 1928 with the founding of the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada. UNF now has 27 branches and affiliates in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. At the height of its activity, it had 92 branches and affiliates from coast to coast. UNF’s affiliates are the Ukrainian War Veterans Organization (Стрілецька Громада), Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada (Орґанізація Українок Канади) and the Ukrainian National Youth Federation (Молодь Українського Національного Об’єднання).
The Ukrainian War Veteran’s Association of Canada (UWVA) was established January 30, 1928 in Winnipeg, inspired by the President of the Ukrainian Military Organization, col. Evhen Konovalets, who later became the Chair of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Veterans of the Ukrainian Galician Army, the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic filled the ranks of the UWVA. UWVA laid the foundation for the establishment of the Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada, the Ukrainian National Federation and the Ukrainian National Youth Federation of Canada. The work of the UWVA has always been based on the important ideals of national unity, maintenance of the Ukrainian identity, historical truths and cultural riches of the Ukrainian people here in Canada, as well as the struggle for a free and independent Ukrainian Nation. To date, the UWVA has been financially responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of col. Evhen Konovalets’ grave in Rotterdam (Holland).
The Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada (UWOC), founded in 1930 is comprised of 7 branches with a total of over 200 members Canada-wide. The UWOC is responsible for developing youth programing, publishing Women’s World Magazine and activism in humanitarian, educational and social objectives of the UNF of Canada. Over the past three years, UWOC’s branches initiated and implemented many activities, such as the EuroMaidan’s held in every branch city; fundraising for humanitarian aid to Ukraine (which in the aggregate raised more than $50,000); fundraising in support of domestic operations, etc. UWOC has supported and encouraged such cultural and heritage programs as children’s camps, Ukrainian language schools, Ukrainian Christmas and Easter celebrations, etc. This past year, UWOC assisted with a financial contribution for the restoration of the Olha Basarab (UWOC’s Patron) monument in L’viv, Ukraine, which had been vandalized.
The Ukrainian National Youth Federation (UNYF) was founded by the UNF in 1934 as a means to develop youth leadership across Canada. Its first president, Sen. Paul Yuzyk, set the organization on a course to help develop Ukrainian Canadian leaders and the future leaders of our Community. Today, the organization comprises of four branches across Canada, and has set an aggressive path to growth through youth engagement via the UNF’s Paul Yuzyk Institute for Youth Leadership. The goal is to create UNYF branches at all UNF branches across Canada. One of UNYF’s past year projects was “Maturalna Zabava Dance Lessons” which was designed as an opportunity for the Maturanty from Ukrainian Saturday Schools across Ontario to meet and have fun while learning how to dance at their Maturalnyj Bal. The turnout was about 50 Maturanty from various Ukrainian Saturday Schools. UNYF hopes to continue this project in the future years to come.
The convention dealt with a number of important issues over the course of four days, not the least of which was passing new bylaw amendments in accordance with Canada’s New Not for Profit Corporations Act, and addressing the organization’s strategic growth plans to be executed over the next 5-10 years. To that end special resolutions were passed which will see the UNF working together with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress to identify needs in the Ukrainian Canadian Community and to fit those needs through organic growth and branch development in those areas. The resolutions will be published in the New Pathway.
Delegates where, for the first time ever, provided electronic tablets to access all of the reports and presentations of the convention, signaling the organizations continued drive toward modernization, and a changing demographic of young leaders (eight of the organization’s branch presidents are under the age of 35, and even more executive members are also within this demographic.)
The city of Winnipeg was selected as this year’s host city because the Winnipeg branch has been responsible for many of the communities cultural, social, educational and financial institutions and some of these were on display at the UNF’s Convention banquet which took place on Saturday evening at the Fort Gary Hotel. The evening’s entertainment was provided by the Rusalka Dancers & O. Koshetz Choir, two groups who were started by the UNF’s Winnipeg Branch as well as the SICH Zabava Band. During the banquet, Sen. Raynell Andreychuk addressed the banquet and put forward her vision for how the UNF of Canada can continue to be instrumental in the development, promotion and expansion of the Ukrainian-Canadian community.
At the Convention, the UNF elected its new Board of Directors which includes: President Taras Pidzamecky (Toronto), Vice President Ihor Bardyn (Toronto), National Secretary Bob Diakiw (St.Catharines), National Treasurer Dan Cherkas (Oshawa), Director Joanne Lewandowsky (Winnipeg), Director Slawko Borys (Toronto), Director Oksana Levytska West Toronto, Director Gene Osidacz (Montreal), Director Michael Maciuk (Sudbury), Director Nestor Staskovich (Hamilton), UWOC VP & Chair Olya Sheweli (Hamilton), Director Tatiana Prokopiw (West Toronto), Director Nataliya Shulga (Montreal), Director Natalie Nebesny (Hamilton), UNYF VP&Chair Wasyl Luczkiw (West Toronto), Director Christina Shoup (West Toronto), Director Mark Hojsan (West Toronto), Director Geoffrey Barton (Hamilton), UWVA VP&Chair Andre Sochaniwsky (Toronto), Director Stefan Hojsan (West Toronto), Director Yurko Serhijczuk (West Toronto), Director Mykola Prokopiw (West Toronto).
The UNF’s Audit Committee now includes Chair Taras Jackiw (Hamilton), Yarko Makohon (Hamilton), Jurij Klufas (West Toronto), Chrystyna Cahute (Toronto), Irene Washchuk (West Toronto) and Darlene Iwaszko (Oshawa).
The newly elected president of the UNF of Canada, Mr. Taras Pidzamecky, addressed the convention delegates and guests with a passionate and inspiring speech where he challenged all in attendance to take up the mission and vision of the UNF and engage in the activities of their local branches to help continue the Organization’s 83-year history of community building.
An added surprise during the evening’s program was a special presentation of $5,000 by the Ukrainian Credit Union Ltd. to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko in support of their Winnipeg Taras Shevchenko Monument Repair Fund. This further demonstrated the UNF’s strong connection with community institutions in Canada.
The weekend concluded with three plenary sessions designed to help the delegates return to their branches with new tools and information that will better help them administrate their buildings, develop programs and work in their communities.
The UNF of Canada has a long history within the Ukrainian Canadian community and from the discussions, debates and resolutions of the 38th national convention it appears that they have many more decades of contributing to Canada’s Ukrainian identity.