Shevchenko Foundation reports to the UCC Congress
Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Stewardship, partnership, leadership. That is what The Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko is trying to do does for the Ukrainian Canadian community, said the Foundation’s president Andrew Hladyshevsky, Q.C. during his presentation at the XXVI Triennial Congress of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Ottawa on November 3.
The Shevchenko Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and development of the Ukrainian Canadian cultural heritage and the Ukrainian community as a whole, has made significant advancements in the recent years. To fulfil its stewardship role, the Foundation increased its assets under management by almost $35 million since 2001 and now has around $41 million under management. Since that time, the Foundation allocated $11.5 million in grants.
It is truly “a remarkable achievement for any organization,” as Hladyshevsky noted during the presentation. This achievement looks even more remarkable if one takes into account that it had taken the Foundation 20 years since 1980s to reach the previous milestone in its assets, $6 million. The growth in the recent years has been exponential thanks to the introduction of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, as well as the foundation’s fundraising and capital campaigns.
How did the Foundation achieve such impressive fundraising results? Hladyshevsky shared the experience: ”You can’t simply ask people for money, you have to deliver to them”. Over the years, the Foundation has established itself as a servant of the Ukrainian Canadian community, he said.
The Foundation’s giving function is facilitated by the Ukrainian Canadian community’s creativity. Hladyshevsky noted that the community “is not shrinking, it is not devolving, the young people that you see in this room are the brightest, most creative people that have ever lived in the Ukrainian community and they are creating at a prodigious pace”. He provided an example: “I got on the plane in Edmonton at midnight on Thursday and before I even had a chance to feel sorry for myself, 30 people from the Shumka dance ensemble got on the plane with me. They got off the plane with me at 6am in Toronto – they were going to New Jersey and New York for tonight and tomorrow night. Basically, no sleep and a lot of them will go to the university on Monday morning. That’s the kind of community we have and that we are trying to fund. And they are ones of hundreds of organizations and projects that we have the privilege to have in our community”.
On a cautionary note, Hladyshewsky remarked that “winter is coming” for the financial markets. This is where the Foundation can further fulfil its stewardship role by serving as a guardian for the community’s funds. The Shevchenko Foundation manages almost $13 million of 28 other organizations’ money to reduce those organizations’ investment risk by getting the buying power of the Foundation’s investment managers. The foundation’s Investment Committee is chaired by a seasoned investment manager Dave Chucko of Vancouver (“manages a few billion dollars on behalf of some of the wealthiest people in Canada”) and is staffed by several professional advisors.
Within the Foundation, there are over 60 designated funds established for a variety of purposes, needs and scholarships. Hladyshevsky provided the examples of bursaries for young Ukrainian Canadians to travel to Ukraine to study in the Ukrainian language; funds for graduate studies in the field of Ukrainian or Ukrainian Canadian studies for a number of Masters students, PhDs and professors; annual scholarships like the Mykola Andrusiak trade bursary or Lesia Szwaluk Volunteer leadership award.
In one designated fund, the Foundation partnered with Mitacs, a non-profit research organization that, in partnerships with Canadian academia, private industry and government, operates research and training programs in fields related to industrial and social innovation. The funding is provided by the Myhal Family Foundation for top-ranked students from Ukraine to intern at Canadian universities in the fields of science and technology. In 2018, 35 Ukrainian students were sponsored, while the Mitacs application record was broken – 500 applications were received from Ukraine.
The REACH program is the Foundation’s partnership with the Ihnatowycz Family Foundation. The program is designed for emerging Canadian artists to reach their career dreams through mentorship, residency, internship and training. It is open to all fields of Arts, Technical Theatre Arts and Arts Management. The program’s inaugural award winner, a theatremaker playwright Andrew Kushnir received the funding for a self-created development residency with Tarragon Theatre in support of his proposed new play, The Time Piece. The play will retrace the journey of his grandfather, a watchmaker, from Ukraine to Canada.
The Foundation’s $25,000 biennial prize, Kobzar™ Book Award, was launched in 2006 “because Canadians weren’t reading about who Ukrainian Canadians were”, explained Hladyshevsky. Ukrainians have been in Canada for well over a century and their collective experience amounts to several million years, he said. The Foundation created an award to allow playwrites, playwrights, authors, and poets to tell Ukrainian Canadian stories.
One of the Foundation’s most notable initiatives (in collaboration with the Myhal Family Foundation) is the Tryzub Award which honours outstanding achievements in leadership within our community, and outstanding supporters of the Ukrainian Canadian community and Ukraine. The Award’s inaugural winners, in 2019, were Jim and Louise Temerty (Community Leadership Award), Ian Ihnatowycz (Business Leadership Award) and Diane Francis (Friend of Ukraine Award). “We will have it again”, promised Hladyshevsky.
Andrew Hladyshevsky, Q.C. has been The Shevchenko Foundation’s president for 22 years, since 1997. In his speech, he asked a natural question, “Why do this? Why volunteer generally? Why the Shevchenko Foundation for me?” And explained: “Of all of the things that our Creator could have given for me, he gave the opportunity to be born in a beautiful Ukrainian family that was part of the community of Canada, of a wonderful culture, of a culture deep, spiritual and philanthropic, a culture that is academic and celebrates its arts and heritage in this country. And that burns in the hearts of our Board of Directors and it burns in the hearts of the people here, at the UCC Congress”.