Daria Bajus for NP-UN.
The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada is an organization of upmost importance in our community. From enriching spiritual life in parishes around the country to developing Ukrainian culture and supporting several charities, the women behind all of this have something to be proud of.
This year marked the 75th anniversary of the UCWLC, a significant milestone for the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout all five Canadian Eparchies. Members of the organization arrived from all over Canada to attend the weekend-long National Congress which was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel near Toronto Pearson International Airport on October 3-6.
The run-through of the Congress was simple. An opening ceremony was complemented by a moleben which was then followed by an overview of reports and resolutions and tied together with a Saturday night banquet.
Tamara Woloschuk, a member of the League for fifty years, defined the four objectives of the organization as Catholic faith, Ukrainian culture, Canadian citizenship and charitable works.
“We are Catholic women and for us, this is very important. We do a lot of work for the church, but we also do things for other people,” she said. “In 2001 we had this big project where we collected $150,000 and bought a mammogram machine for a hospital in Lviv so that women can get mammograms free of charge. Our branches support people in Ukraine, women soldiers and families who have suffered because of the war.”
Woloschuk explained that the UCWLC belongs to The World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, which is made up of 8 million members in 66 countries. “Our organization is very small in comparison; however, we are the only organization of Catholic Women of Eastern Right in that union.”
The UCWLC is involved in events around the community, publishes a magazine called “Nasha Doroha,” offers scholarships to youth, and even has a museum in Saskatoon. “Our museum preserves and promotes Ukrainian heritage. It has many artifacts that the first settlers brought over, and it’s also supported by the government,” said Woloschuk. “We had a museum in Toronto and we were evicted twice. We were sure we wouldn’t be able to get anything for our budget, so we sent our whole collection to Saskatoon. Now a lot more people can get to see it. All of Canada, not just Toronto.”
Lisa Shymko, President of the Ukraine Support Fund, spoke about an initiative project which focused on the healthcare needs of Ukrainian servicewomen and veterans.
“Why did we focus on women, what is the big picture?” she began. “More than 56,000 women are currently serving in the armed forces. 30,000 are engaged in active military service and more than 10,000 have served in combat positions.”
Shymko explained that starting in June of 2016, the Ukrainian government changed its law to allow women in the armed forces to serve in certain capacities. “We focus on women in uniform specifically in the way we work with them. We provide healthcare services, specialized training for medical staff, focus on research and training. Gathering statistics that people are interested in. No other country in the world is currently engaged in a war with Russia.”
“The past – our pride, The future – our hope,” was the theme of the congress. When asked how they plan to continue to grow their organization, Woloschuk stated that this was a bit of a problem. “We are trying to get resolutions to get younger people to join. However, people don’t like to commit. They won’t mind coming to do one thing, and then they’re gone,” she said. “We need more people. We need more help.”
For more information about the organization and how you can get involved visit www.ucwlc.ca.
Daria Bajus is this year`s winner of the New Pathway scholarship from Ukrainian Credit Union Limited