NP-UN Western Bureau.
Former Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow was the recipient of the 2019 Michael Luchkovich Award presented annually by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council to honour individuals of Ukrainian descent who have been previously elected officials for their significant contribution and dedication to the betterment of all Canadians.
The award is presented annually by the UCC-APC President during the Ukrainian Day Festival at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, which was held this year on August 18.
Romanow himself was unable to attend the ceremony as he was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary that same time and his award was accepted by MC Mike Ciona, from CTV Saskatoon’s Morning Live Program.
He served in public office in Canada for over 30 years, most notably as Deputy Premier and then as Premier of Saskatchewan from 1991 – 2001. Romanow was a leading figure in the negotiations that led to the 1982 patriation of the Constitution and the creation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As premier, he restored Saskatchewan’s fiscal health in the 1990s. A passionate advocate for publicly-funded medicare, he headed the 2001-2002 Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. Romanow was appointed to the Privy Council of Canada in 2003, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004.
“Mr. Romanov has indeed earned his place with past Luchkowich Award recipients, he most certainly has significantly contributed and dedicated himself to the betterment of all Canadians,” stated UCC – APC President Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz in making the presentation.
In a letter read out to the audience by Ciona, Romanow said he was “greatly honoured to be recognized as this year’s recipient of the Luchkowich Award, a prestigious acknowledgement and reminder of the important role Ukrainians have played in Canada’s ongoing nation building project.”
Romanow’s parents, Michael and Tekla, were born, married and lived near Lviv, in the small, rural community of Stoyaniv. During the late 1920’s, his father, Michael left Ukraine to escape poverty and joined his uncles in Saskatchewan. His wife and their daughter Ann remained in the village of Ordiv, in western Ukraine, until they joined Michael in Canada in 1938. Roy was born a year later in Saskatoon.
“As a young boy, I remember, to this date, my studies of the Ukrainian language (my first language) at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall in Saskatoon. The Ukrainian language lessons, were accompanied with Ukrainian dance, choirs and more language lessons. Complementing them were vital religious services at St. George’s Ukrainian Cathedral and, yes violin lessons. We sang our traditional Ukrainian national anthem at all our social and major events! These memories are still etched into my mind and soul. Above all, our Ukrainian community never forgot their objective as it consistently spoke out for an independent, free and democratic Ukraine!” he stated in his letter.
Romanow also stated that a highlight of his time as Premier of Saskatchewan was to travel home to Ukraine to visit with his family’s many relatives.
“First, I attended meetings in Kyiv with the then President of Ukraine and, after those meetings, I later travelled to Chernivtsi where the University honoured me with a cherished Honorary degree. But, the highlight of this journey was going to Lviv and, then to the small village of Stoyaniv where my parents were married, farmed and lived, before coming to Canada. Visiting the church in which they exchanged their marriage vows greatly and emotionally moved me!
“The above is not intended to communicate a special, personal history! Rather, it echoes what hundreds of other Ukrainians have experienced and know of their own histories and their own dreams for Ukraine. What I am trying to communicate is my pride in being a Canadian of Ukrainian descent and, most importantly, the important work that our Ukrainian diaspora continues to pursue in preserving our language and culture and, at the same time, supporting a truly independent and free Ukraine.
“This is what the Luchkovich award is mainly about. In my lifetime, I have received many awards and honours. But, this is one of the most important. Important because it reminds all of us of our heritage, our pride in that heritage and our commitment to a truly independent, democratic and free Ukraine!,” he added.