Could Oshawa-Durham members become the first UNF virtual members?

    UNF Oshawa executive circa 2017

    Taras Rohatyn for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    In April 2008, UNF National Executive then-President Taras Pidzamecky called and invited a number of UNF members residing in the Oshawa / Durham Region to consider re-establishing the Oshawa UNF Branch which had closed for a number of decades previously. At a supper meeting attended by a number of National Executive Committee members, and eight Durham residents, Walter Kish was acclaimed as the first Oshawa Branch president. The local Branch held its first meeting on May 12, 2008, attended by 10 members.

    For the first 10 years, the Branch was quite active in the community and was very much involved at a national level, attending many conferences, AGMs and conventions. However, Branch activities waned in the last two years, and all efforts to increase the Branch’s membership were unsuccessful. The younger Durham Region generation was and continues to show little interest in not only our UNF organization, but also in our churches and other associations (the Leega / CYM Dnipro hall and the Senior’s Centre had to be closed due to decreasing membership and rising costs), dance groups and Ridna Shkolas.

    On Dec. 15, 2019, at its 12th Annual Winter Social, President Taras Rohatyn convened a special Branch meeting to discuss the current state of the Branch and its future (although members had been discussing their situation for the last year). The Branch surprisingly was in good financial health but its membership had dropped from a high of 18 in 2016 to just seven members; a number of members have not renewed their membership due to age, personal reasons and, unfortunately, passing on.

    Taras had asked Vlodko Kish to look back at the past 12 years and provide the Social with a summary of our activities and accomplishments (of note the Executive Committee of the UNF Oshawa Branch was the same as the Ukrainian Canadian Committee Oshawa Branch which also ceased last year). The results were quite astounding and the following is a very brief recap:

    • Holodomor Commemorations for 8 years;
    • Summer Branch Social at Hawkestone for 11 years;
    • Winter Branch Social for 12 years;
    • Film and documentary presentations (Kingdom Reborn; Okradena Zemlya; Bereza Kartuska; Folk; Pioneer Train; Taras Bulba; Genocide Revealed; Sviato Heroine – UPA; Cruel Dawn; Chernobyl 30 years later; Music of Survival; Bitter Harvest);
    • Hopakcersize for 3 years;
    • Euromaidan Fundraiser;
    • A Region Tribute and Gala to Mike Starr;
    • Ukrainian Flag raising at Oshawa City Hall;
    • A number of presentations and exhibits about Displaced Person Camps;

    and many more activities.

    Following this Tribute, there was an active discussion on the continuance of membership with the UNF and those in attendance strongly suggested that the UNF National Executive consider “virtual membership” as a membership category, thereby allowing individuals located in areas across Canada that do not have a Branch, with a means of staying connected with the UNF.

    On the following motion by Vlodko Kish “that I had moved with enthusiasm to re-establish the Oshawa UNF Branch 12 years ago, it is with the deepest regret that I now move the cessation and closing of the Oshawa UNF Branch”, the motion carried unanimously.

    President Taras Rohatyn thanked everyone in attendance for their years of support to the Branch and to the UNF. On a motion to adjourn, the members enjoyed their camaraderie and their winter social evening.

    As a recap, I wish to thank all of the members of the Oshawa UNF Branch, who over the past 12 years volunteered, worked and dedicated their personal time, energy and effort to uphold the mission, vision, and values of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada and specifically to those, who stepped up to hold Executive Committee positions:

    • President: Taras Rohatyn (9 yrs); Vlodko Kish (2 yrs); Stefania Bazylewicz (1 yr);
    • Vice President: Vlodko Kish (4 yrs); Doris Cherkas (4 yrs); Lila Perun (4 yrs);
    • Secretary: Daria Kish (12 years);
    • Treasurer: Darlene Iwaszko (10 yrs); Oksana Masko (2 yrs);
    • Exec. Member: Vlodko Kish (6 yrs); Stefania Bazylewicz (3 yrs);
    • Audit Committee: Dan Cherkas and Alex Kish (12 years); Maria Steventon (3 yrs); Doris Cherkas (2 yrs); Anna Bazylewicz Reitano (3 years).