Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
The Ukrainian Canadian community has been an integral part of the development of Canada for more than 125 years, and continues to be a leading contributor to Canada’s ongoing development. Thus, the Tryzub Awards were created by passionate Ukrainian Canadians who saw a need to unify our community across Canada to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have demonstrated their work in support of Ukraine, Ukrainian causes, the Ukrainian Canadian community and Canada overall.
The Tryzub Award Gala is an evening of celebration honouring recipients who demonstrate the virtues our community values in the areas of: Community Leadership, Business Leadership and Friends of Ukraine. The inaugural Tryzub Awards were presented at a Gala at the Ontario Arts Gallery on May 9.
The $1,000 per-plate Gala was sold out and hosted prominent representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian community and guests from other countries, including Ukraine and the United States. The guests were treated to some fine performances from the tenor trio of Asitha Tennekoon, Romulo Delgado and Zachary Rioux, of the Royal Conservatory of Music, who performed a classical repertoire, and the Winnipeg-born JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter, Chantal Kreviazuk who on several occasions led the audience in singing her well-known tunes. Mervon Mehta, the Executive Director of Performing Arts for The Royal Conservatory, MCed the evening.
After the introduction by the President of Shevchenko Foundation, Andriy Hladyshevsky, Q.C., three award recipients gave their acceptance speeches.
Diane Francis (Friends of Ukraine Award), a well-known Canadian and international journalist, author, broadcaster, Editor-at Large at The National Post, provided an outlook on how her personal relationship with all things Ukrainian has developed and what progress Ukraine has made over time. When she first came to Toronto at the young age, she didn’t know much about Ukraine. Through many Ukrainian connections she got immersed in the Ukrainian culture and fell in love with it. Only later did she find out that, genetically, she has 16% Ukrainian/Polish blood. Francis first visited Ukraine in early 1992 when she interviewed the then-president Leonid Kravchuk. Her interest in Ukraine survived the hardships of 1990s and early 2000s. During the Orange Revolution, she spent two weeks in Ukraine, but the Revolution “did not end well because there was a huge relapse”. After the years of “dreadful Yanukovych” came the “incredible Maidan” which “took the country to the next level”. In the years after the Maidan, Francis travelled to Ukraine many times and met many “remarkable Ukrainians”. With a trembling voice, she remembered an 18-year-old who told his mother that he would take his grandfather’s hunting rifle and go the war to “keep the Russians out of his country”; the volunteers who gave up a year of their work to help build an IT system for the military. She remembered the murdered activists Iryna Nozdrovska and Kateryna Handziuk who were fighting corruption. “Ukraine really had to change,” she said and referred to the recent presidential election which she called an “earthquake of the vote”. “This is the most risk-taking civil society maybe in the history of Europe. These are the people who shouldn’t have done what they did in 2004 and they did it, shouldn’t have done what they did in 2014 and they did it. And now 73% voted for an unknown guy. These are risk-takers,” she said. Francis congratulated the Diaspora for having done “so much good for Ukraine”.
Ian Ihnatowycz (Business Leadership) spoke about his experience running the investment company Acuity Investment Management where the underlying philosophy was to provide outstanding long-term investment results. The company went a step further to include environmental and sustainable development analysis as part of the decision-making process, he added. Ihnatowycz’s current involvement with early-stage companies through First Generation Capital strives to continue improving the quality of life, focuses on investing with people who run innovative companies engaged in game-changing products and services and addressing large-scale problems like heart arrhythmia and cancer. “The plethora of entrepreneurial opportunities [currently] is so exciting, it makes me wish I were 20 years younger,” added Ihnatowycz. He said he is ready to support the next generation of visionaries and leaders through his philanthropic work via his family foundation established in 2011 which he called “a huge source of pleasure, fulfillment and a challenge for the family.” He singled out two institutions that have impacted him and which he has been supporting in return, Toronto Conservatory of Music where he and his children have studied, and the Ivey Business School and its Leadership Institute which, in particular, studies the issue of character in business decision making. Ihnatowycz and other speakers that night also gave credit to the key organizer and the chair woman of the ceremony, Rayla Myhal, and her husband George Myhal.
Jim and Louise Temerty received the Community Leadership award. Jim Temerty said that he was delighted to support so many Ukrainian causes throughout Canada. He called making the larger donations to the Ukrainian Canadian community a bit more challenging because not all Ukrainian Canadian institutions have built up the organization and governance structures to be able to take the larger donations. “But that’s coming along,” he added. As a notable exception and an example of a larger institution, Temerty named the Shevchenko Foundation which has been around for 55 years and which, under the leadership of Hladyshevsky and Executive Director Lesia Szwaluk, has become the premier Ukrainian organization in Canada. Temerty also recognized Help Us Help Foundation ran by Ruslana Wrzesnewska who, on that day, arranged Temerty’s meeting with eight Ukrainian orphans, assisted by the Foundation. He also mentioned that the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, which is sponsored by the Temerty Foundation, is going to exhibit the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Story at Royal Ontario Museum later this year. Temerty said that the thousand years of Ukrainian-Jewish relations have now come to a point where Ukraine is now the only country outside of Israel with Jewish president and prime minister. Perhaps jokingly, he added, “I feel that the work I’ve been doing for 12 years as Chairman of Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter is done.”
The Gala went well into the late evening with many friendly meetings and discussions among the award recipients, organizers and guests.
The Shevchenko Foundation is grateful to the architects of the Tryzub Awards Gala, Rayla and George Myhal, for their vision in bringing the Awards to life, and to the members of executive and organizing committees Orest Sklierenko, William Petruck, Yvan Baker, Adrianna Grod, Marc Marzotto and Roma Dubczak, as well as the Foundation’s own Lesia Szwaluk and Donna Korade for their work.