UCC-APC launches campaign to save historic artifacts

UCAMA’s Nasha Skrynia display showing artifacts and archives from the pioneer era

Lender puts them up for auction after UCAMA defaults on loan.

NP-UN Western Bureau.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) has launched a fundraising campaign to buy back historic artifacts donated by members of the community over the past 50 years before they go on the auction block.

In a letter sent out to members of the community August 20, UCC-APC President Orysia Boychuk stated that, in response to the recently released news by the Ukrainian Canadian Archives and Museum of Alberta (UCAMA), that its assets are now in the possession of UMC Financial Management Inc. and are at risk of going to auction, the council established an ad-hoc committee for the purpose of saving the UCAMA archives and artifacts.

“We believe that these items were donated to UCAMA in good faith for the preservation of the history of the Ukrainian Canadian community in Alberta, and that they should remain within the community.

“The goal of the committee is to obtain sufficient funds to acquire the collection from UMC Financial Management, the creditor for UCAMA, and find the proper repositories to receive and preserve UCAMA’s former archives and collections,” she added.

The value of the UCAMA archives and collections has been negotiated at $70,000. The creditor agreed to the following payment schedule: the first payment of $15,000 due August 31, 2020, the second payment of $20,000 due September 30, 2020, and the final payment of $35,000 due October 30th, 2020.

UCC-APC is also working towards the agreement’s timeline to relocate the archives and artifact collections by October 30th, 2020. At this time, they waiting for the creditors to sign the final documentation.

In a July letter to UCC-APC Paul Teterenko, President of UCAMA stated that the board undertook an ambitious project to build a new museum on Jasper Avenue, but construction stopped in 2014 due to lack of funds.

“We pursued several avenues to try and resolve the funding shortfall, but unfortunately none of them were successful. We successively hired two professional fundraisers, but neither were able to raise any substantial funds. We incurred more costs in wrapping the buildings to preserve the buildings integrity as required by the City of Edmonton. Since then one building on Jasper was sold to pay down some of our debts, the partially built new museum was foreclosed on by Delnor Construction to recover outstanding construction debt.

“Through a series of unfortunate financial events UCAMA now finds itself in the position of losing not only our current museum but more importantly our collection to our lending agency. The intent of our creditors is to seize the collection and dispose of it through an auction. If this collection is taken then an important part of not only Alberta history but that of Canada will be forever lost,” he added.

In 1972 a group of 11 prominent professional and business members of the Ukrainian community in Edmonton, led by Hryhory and Stefania Yopyk, dedicated themselves to the establishment of a facility for the preservation of the history and culture of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage. Through their efforts, the UCAMA was created and for three decades welcomed visitors from Edmonton and beyond to share in these achievements by exploring its colourful exhibits of historical artifacts, archival documents and photographs, and extensive library.

In 2002 UCAMA’s Board of Directors determined through a professionally prepared feasibility study that the present building which houses its extensive collections was functionally obsolete. Therefore, in March of 2003, UCAMA acquired the Lodge Hotel and the Brighton Block on Jasper Avenue (both designated as Municipal Historic Resources by the City of Edmonton).

Boychuk said UCC-APC’s target is to raise $80,000 in the next 10 weeks to be able to pay the creditor and offset associated project costs. In addition, UCC-APC’s commitment is for the archives and collections to be completely dismantled and the project to end October 30th, 2020. Should the negotiated agreement not be signed, and the assets be sent to auction, UCC-APC will still need funds to be able to secure the assets so that they are not lost.

“All funds will be collected and processed by UCC-APC, and then dispersed to the creditor as per agreement. In consultation with AGLC (Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission), we have received approval to accept funds received from Alberta organizations (i.e. donations up to $5,000 from casino funds) for this special project. Payments can be made to UCC-APC with UCAMA project listed in the memo line. If you wish to receive a tax receipt – please make cheques payable to UCC-Education and Trust (listing ‘UCAMA Project’ in the memo line).,” she added.

If you are interested in volunteering to help meet project deadlines, making a donation or participating on the committee, please contact Orysia Boychuk, President UCC-APC email: president@uccab.ca or by phone at 780-983-1349.