Gene Zwozdesky Passes Away

    Gene Zwozdesky

    Former Speaker, Cabinet Minister and Dedicated Volunteer

    NP-UN National Affairs Desk.

    Gene Zwozdesky, former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, former Member of the Legislative Assembly, and long-time Ukrainian Canadian community leader and volunteer, passed away peacefully on January 6, 2019, after a short, but valiant, battle with cancer at the age of 70 years.

    Zwozdesky was elected as MLA for Edmonton-Avonmore in 1993 (later representing Edmonton-Mill Creek) and served as Speaker of the House from 2012 to 2015. Over the course of his career he filled a multitude of roles, including Minister of Alberta Health and Wellness, Minister of Aboriginal Relations, Minister of Education and Minister of Community Development. He was also the Associate Minister of Health and Wellness and Associate Minister of Capital Planning.

    He accomplished much during his time in the public service, including spearheading the recognition in Alberta of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, a significant contribution to increasing education and knowledge about the Holodomor in Canada.

    But he was also was a supporter of the arts, a talented musician and a proud Ukrainian dancer.

    “It was with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Mr. Zwozdesky. He was a true leader and trail blazer for our community,” stated Alexandra Chyczij, President of the UCC. “Mr. Zwozdesky’s accomplishments are a source of great pride for the Ukrainian Canadian community. The example he set through his commitment to public service and to Ukrainian Canadian causes lives on in the many lives he impacted so positively. Mr. Zwozdesky will be remembered forever for his sense of humour, generosity of spirit and enthusiasm.”

    Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, President of the UCC Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC), stated, “UCC-APC and the Ukrainian community of Alberta will deeply miss Gene’s passion, courage, dedication and commitment to our community. His continuous love and support of our homeland and its arts, culture, and religion could be felt throughout his work in the various projects and committees that he served. He cared deeply about his family, his community and his province. Our entire community is deeply shaken by Gene’s passing. May his memory be Eternal. Вічная Пам’ять.”
    Before becoming an MLA, Zwozdesky worked as a teacher, administrator, professional musician and business owner. He was also Executive Director of the Alberta Cultural Heritage Foundation and of the Alberta Ukrainian Canadian Centennial Commission, as well as Music Director for the Shumka Dancers and Cheremosh Dancers.
    As Speaker of the House, Zwozdesky was known for his calm demeanour and kindness. He was a true public servant.
    Following his time in office, Zwozdesky was deeply involved with the Alberta Association of former MLAs, as well as several Ukrainian community organizations.
    Predeceased by his father, Alec; Gene is survived by mother, Anna; wife, Christine; daughter, Ariana (Joseph Whitlow); son, Myron (Krystal); three grandchildren, Joshua and Natalie Whitlow, and Charlie Zwozdesky; brothers, John (Marie) and Willi; sister, Iris Ciona (Steve); as well as numerous extended family members and godchildren.
    The Prayer Service was scheduled for Tuesday, January 15 at St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Edmonton, Funeral Rite Wednesday, January 16, also at St. John’s, with interment at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Edmonton.

    Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, President of the UCC Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC), stated, “UCC-APC and the Ukrainian community of Alberta will deeply miss Gene’s passion, courage, dedication and commitment to our community. His continuous love and support of our homeland and its arts, culture, and religion could be felt throughout his work in the various projects and committees that he served. He cared deeply about his family, his community and his province. Our entire community is deeply shaken by Gene’s passing. May his memory be Eternal. Вічная Пам’ять.”

    Before becoming an MLA, Zwozdesky worked as a teacher, administrator, professional musician and business owner. He was also Executive Director of the Alberta Cultural Heritage Foundation and of the Alberta Ukrainian Canadian Centennial Commission, as well as Music Director for the Shumka Dancers and Cheremosh Dancers.

    As Speaker of the House, Zwozdesky was known for his calm demeanour and kindness. He was a true public servant.

    Following his time in office, Zwozdesky was deeply involved with the Alberta Association of former MLAs, as well as several Ukrainian community organizations.

    Predeceased by his father, Alec; Gene is survived by mother, Anna; wife, Christine; daughter, Ariana (Joseph Whitlow); son, Myron (Krystal); three grandchildren, Joshua and Natalie Whitlow, and Charlie Zwozdesky; brothers, John (Marie) and Willi; sister, Iris Ciona (Steve); as well as numerous extended family members and godchildren.

    The Prayer Service was scheduled for Tuesday, January 15 at St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, Edmonton, Funeral Rite Wednesday, January 16, also at St. John’s, with interment at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Edmonton.

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