Alexandra Chyczij, National President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Earlier this month, at the Annual General Meeting of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Montreal, we said goodbye to Paul Grod, who served our community as President of the UCC for over a decade. Paul has left the UCC to take the helm as President of the Ukrainian World Congress.
In the decade Paul served as President of the UCC, he moved the UCC to new heights – he professionalized the staffing model, expanded the financial base of the UCC, and grew its influence with Canada’s decision makers as well as within our Ukrainian Canadian community.
This past decade the UCC has accomplished much – a successful internment redress campaign, where together with the Shevchenko Foundation and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, we established the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, which educates Canadians about Canada’s internment operations in WWI; national recognition of the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people; and continued all-party support by the Canadian government for Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy.
As the Ukrainian people rose up in defence of their rights during the Revolution of Dignity, the UCC worked tirelessly under Paul’s leadership to ensure a united response from both our community and the Canadian government. As Russia’s war against Ukraine enters its fifth year, we remain united in defence of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence.
For his efforts, Paul earned many accolades, including being named by Embassy Magazine & Hill Times Power and Influence Magazine, as one of the top 100 people influencing Canada’s global future.
Nor has Paul escaped the notice of Russia’s President Putin – he is one of 13 Canadians to be sanctioned and barred from entering Russia, a tribute I know he cherishes, and shares with Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Prior to being elected President of the UCC in 2007, Paul had been deeply involved in the Ukrainian Canadian community life for many years. Raised in a family of Ukrainian Canadian patriots – a family whose story is similar to that of many of the post-WWII “DP generation” – Paul grew up in the CYM youth organization, attended Saturday school, and joined (and became the President of) the Ukrainian Canadian student youth movement.
Imbued in him in his youth was a love for both Canada and Ukraine – Ukraine, our ancestral home and Canada – where our people found freedom and peace, and where we could foster our language, culture and traditions. That patriotism and those values define him today.
Throughout many years of leading the UCC and other organizations, Paul developed an innate ability to convince and inspire others. He leads not through bullying or pressuring, but through persuasion and building consensus. If, as Eisenhower said, “leadership is the art of getting someone to do something you want done because they want to do it,” Paul has certainly proven his leadership capabilities!
Paul’s service to our community and his successes would have been impossible without the love, support, understanding (and patience) of his wife, Adrianna, and their four children – Roman, Danylo, Larysa and Olena, who endured many missed dinners, birthdays, holidays, and late nights of their dad on the phone solving another crisis.
Paul leaves the UCC stronger than he found it. He leaves a legacy of a committed, enthusiastic and experienced Board of Directors, a coast-to-coast network of dedicated and energetic volunteers, and a professional and savvy staff. It is a profound honour for me to be elected to serve as President of the UCC, and I’m sure that together we will continue the good work that Paul has led for the last ten years.
Paul, we wish you all success as President of the UWC. Your loyalty, dedication and patriotism are an example to us all, and your legacy at UCC will endure. From your friend – good luck, God bless, and thank you.