Nine community leaders honoured at Hetman Awards

In Edmonton. Left to Right: Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko, UCC-APC President Orysia Boychuk, Svitlana Kadziela, Marco Levytsky, Mark Kopinec, Slava Yopyk, Lidia Wasylyn, Cheryl Semeniuk, Consul General Oleksandr Danyleiko. (Missing: Prof. Olenka Bilash)

NP-UN Western Bureau.

Nine community leaders from Edmonton and Calgary were honoured at the 2020 Hetman Awards broadcast online by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC), October 24.

This included five Hetman Awards, two Exemplary Volunteer Awards and two Professional Achievement Awards – a new category introduced this year to recognize our community’s professional cadres. UCC – APC developed it based on feedback received from our community.

Due to COVID restrictions, the presentations were made by UCC – APC President Orysia Boychuk at separate functions in both Edmonton (October 17) and Calgary (October 18 which were limited to under 15 people, video-recorded, edited then broadcast online).

The keynote address at the Edmonton event was delivered by Consul General Oleksandr Danyleiko.

In addition, the Presidential Medal, Cross of Ivan Mazepa, was presented to New Pathway – Ukrainian News National Affairs Editor and former Editor, Publi-sher and Owner of Ukrainian News, Marco Levytsky, by Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, Andriy Shevchenko. (See story here)

The Hetman Award recipients are as follows:

Lidia Wasylyn (Adult Category)

Lidia Wasylyn has been involved in the community since a young age, beginning in the Los Angeles branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM). While Lidia has taken leadership roles in various organizations such as Alberta Parents for Ukrainian Education, St. Josa-phat Cathedral Parish Council, and Ivan Franko School of Ukrainian Studies, she has also contributed to the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League and the Tsentralia of Ukrainian Catholics of the Edmonton Eparchy. Even with this breadth of involvement, CYM has always been her home base.

Lidia has been a frequent contributor to Ukrainian Canadian news outlets, highlighting events and organizations, especially their volunteers. She strives to set an example of volunteerism and devotion to the community for the next generation and especially to her sons, whom she regards as her greatest accomplishment.

Mark Kopinec (Adult)

Mark Kopinec has dedicated over 40 years to volunteering for the Ukrainian community. His volunteering in the community began back in the 1980s when he was president of the Ukrainian Students Club at the University of Alberta. Following his debut as president, Mark’s leadership volunteer roles have included being vice-president (now president) of the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada, Edmonton Eparchy, for the past four years; founder, treasurer, and logistics coordinator of the Friends of the Ukrainian Heritage Pavilion Society; and UCC Edmonton board member for many years in various capacities, including secretary, Audit Committee member, and treasurer.

Mark’s most recent and significant impact has been as a volunteer with UCC Edmonton as treasurer, where he not only manages finances for the organization but has played an active role in putting on UCC Edmonton events. Through his accounting experience, he has successfully maintained the financial records, budgets, and public funding of the organization.

Oksana Dawid (Adult)

Oksana Dawid emigrated from Ukraine in 1992 and has been an active member of the Ukrainian community in Canada for 25 years. She is an active member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church parish in Calgary. She has been director/principal of the Ukrainian heritage school for five years, developing a strong, well-organized program that has attracted many new students. She has also organized trips to Ukraine for graduating classes, and spent endless hours working to raise funds for many causes including Church needs, humanitarian help for Ukraine, and wounded soldier funds. She took an active role during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine to ensure that a special polling office was set up in Calgary for visiting Ukrainians to place their votes. She has been president of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League for over seven years in Calgary as well as being an active member of CYM.

Borys Sydoruk (Adult)

William Borys Sydoruk was born in Calgary into a Ukrainian immigrant family. He was active in his youth with the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada (CYM), Calgary Branch. Borys is a founding member of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation. Along with other leaders, he played an instrumental role in securing recognition, restitution, and reconciliation for Canada’s role in WWI internment operations and was involved in the placement of dozens of historical markers and statues in Alberta and across Canada aimed at recognition of the internment operations.

For over 30 years Sydoruk played a major role in local, provincial, national, and international campaigns aimed at raising awareness about the Holodomor in Ukraine. He has also contributed significantly to honouring and promoting the legacy of Ukrainian Canadian war heroes, including Cpl. Filip Konowal, a recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Borys is an active member of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Congregation in Calgary. For his dedication and major contributions to the Ukrainian community, he was awarded the UCC National Shevchenko Medal in 2019 and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Ukrainian Canadian Professional & Business Association of Calgary.

Slava Yopyk (Senior)

Slava Yopyk currently devotes her time to various community organizations in the Edmonton region. She was recently recognized by the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations and honoured with the “Берегиня Українського Роду” award in 2019.

Slava was the president of the Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada Edmonton Branch in 1990–91 and from 2013 to 2017. She saw a need and set forth to lead the organization into the 21st century and in doing so has enriched the organization and the broader community. We often use the phrase “youth of today are our future, our leaders in the future,” and Slava Yopyk’s work as one of the founding members of the Studio Dzherelo Ukrainian Children’s Theatre, has inspired the next generation; they will have the knowledge to go forward and continue with the work started before them, ensuring the continuation of Ukrainian traditions and language. Slava Yopyk is a true leader with a vision — a Woman for all Seasons.

In Calgary. Left to Right: Shane Gibson, Oksana Dawid, Borys Sydoruk, UCC-APC President Orysia Boychuk

The two UCC-APC Professional Award recipients were:

Shane Gibson

Shane Gibson is a five-year volunteer member on the Board of the Alberta Ukrainian Dance Association (AUDA), based in Calgary. His entry onto the Board in 2013 came at a critical time of evaluation of continuance for the organization. With over 20 years of experience as a performer, choreographer, and instructor in Ukrainian dance, Shane brought an in-depth strategic leadership view to decision making at AUDA.

His own organization, the Ukrainian Dance Instructor Conference (the only one in Canada), took on AUDA’s previous workshop camp responsibilities for training Ukrainian dancers and dance instructors in advanced dance lexicon, Ukrainian ethnography, and choreography.

Shane is Alberta’s longest serving rural community Ukrainian dance instructor, for 21 years continuously, and AUDA is blessed to have this outstanding adult leader as a Calgary-based Ukrainian dance community representative on their board. As the new artistic director of the Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Society, Shane joins the top ranks of Ukrainian dance experts in Alberta.

Prof. Olenka Bilash

Throughout her career Prof. Olenka Bilash has displayed unparalleled levels of enthusiasm, perseverance, and professionalism in the advancement of Ukrainian language education in Alberta. From her early days establishing the first Ukrainian Bilingual program to her appointment as a professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Education and now as the director of the Ukrainian Language Education Centre at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Dr. Bilash has truly embodied the commitment to professionalizing second language education, in particular the teaching and learning of Ukrainian.

Dr. Bilash’s drive to improve second language learning has taken her across the globe and throughout Canada’s own ethnic, heritage, and Indigenous communities. As a specialist in teaching resource development, language curricula, and consulting, she partnered to lead the Research Initiative on Democratic Reform in Ukraine (RIDRU) following Ukraine’s tumultuous Revolution of Dignity.

An award-winning educator, internationally recognized researcher, an attentive mentor to our educators, and a true leader in the language learning community, Prof. Olenka Bilash is a professional who makes the Ukrainian community stronger.

The honorees of the Exemplary Volunteer Award are as follows:

Cheryl Semeniuk

Cheryl Semeniuk is currently a Registered Social Worker, working at the Bissell Centre as a Family Support Worker, and has done so for the last nine and a half years. She volunteered at the Bissell Centre in 2010 in the Early Childhood Development Program and was hired that same year to work at the centre. Cheryl also volunteered prior to 2010 in the Neighbourhood Block Parent Association.

Cheryl has been a dedicated member of the Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Parish and the Holy Eucharist branch of the Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC) for 26 years. As a member of the UCWLC, in the early years Cheryl was involved in its various committees, such as the Spiritual, Social Development/Charitable, and Cultural Committees. Cheryl also took on treasurer and vice-president positions. Today, Cheryl is serving her tenth term as president.

Cheryl is very passionate about her Catholic faith, culture, and Ukrainian heritage. This is very evident in all that she has done and continues to do in her church at the eparchial and parish levels. She works well as a team member, is respectful of others, pays attention to ideas from others, shares credit, praises others for jobs well done, and always has a positive outlook on things – an exemplary volunteer!

Svitlana Kadziela

Svitlana Kadziela immigrated to Canada in 1995 and soon after became actively involved in community life, joining several organizations. Initially, with St Matthew Parent Council she helped with hot lunches, field trips, pysanka writing, and making pasky with the children.

In 2006, Svitlana joined the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women (LUCW) and has been an active member since then. Currently vice-president, Svitlana has stepped up to fill the role of president when required and participated as a member of LUCW National as a director. At this time, she is also on the board of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, representing LUCW. She helped to organize the 125th Anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence as a lead on Art Vendors and Children’s Activities. She also assists at Heritage Days where needed.

Svitlana is an admirable, focused individual who approaches everything she does in a professional way. She continues to volunteer her time, talents, efforts, and expertise in order to keep the Ukrainian Canadian community strong, vibrant, and active.