UCC-APC saves UCAMA’s artifacts

The Ukrainian Christmas exhibit displayed at the Ukrainian Pavilion in Edmonton during Heritage Days 2018 - didukh (дідух). The exhibit won first prize for arts and crafts displays. Source: Ukrainian Museum of Canada Alberta Branch

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau Chief.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) has succeeded in saving the artifacts that had been put up for auction by the lender who had foreclosed on the Ukrainian Canadian Archives and Museum of Alberta (UCAMA).

During a whirlwind campaign that began in July, UCC-APC succeeded in raising $90,006.40. of which $70,000 went to the lender to buy back the collection and the rest for expenses incurred with the campaign.

The full details of all expenses plus the donations are contained in the UCC-APC report which was released on December 14 and will be posted on UCC-APC’s website (www.uccab.ca).

“We believe that the ‘Save UCAMA’s Archives and Collections Project’’ was very successful,” states the report.

“It showed that despite the differences, our community is united in preserving the common history and paving the path forward for the new generations. We know that the collections will be available to the general public and will remain in Alberta. UCC-APC wishes to express sincere gratitude to UCAMA for the preservation of Ukrainian collections and archives and to the museums that took it upon themselves to continue preserving these artifacts when UCAMA was no longer able to do so.

“Thank you to the Bazilian Father’s Museum for taking 95% of the UCAMA’s collection. A sincere thank you to the Kule Folklore Center for taking the archives and to the 4 museums in Alberta for taking the remaining items: Ukrainian Women’s Organization – Museum, Ukrainian Museum of Canada – Alberta, Ukrainian Museum of Canada – Calgary and Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League Association Museum.

“It has been a tremendous project to undertake in such a short period of time. With the right people behind the project, we were able to raise the funds and complete the project in a timely and accountable manner,” UCC-APC adds in its report.

All the donors, committee members, organizations and individual volunteers who assisted are listed in the report.

On June 24, 2020, UCC-APC received a letter from UCAMA providing a status update which stated that the collections were at risk of going to auction. This update came in response to a request from UCC-APC President Orysia Boychuk after it was brought to the Congress’ attention by Board Member Ksenia Maryniak who, in turn, had been informed that these items were going up for auction by Ustia Stefanchuk.

UCAMA President Paul Teterenko has blamed both federal and provincial levels of government for not providing enough extra funds for the project in 2010 which eventually led to the collapse of the project to build a new home for the museum on Jasper Avenue. (See story here).

Following receipt of the UCAMA update, the UCC-APC Board was agreed that a committee should be formed to review the potential of saving UCAMA’s collections. Following the consultation of numerous community organizations, it was deemed that enough interest and financial support would mitigate the risk of UCC-APC involvement.

The main committee was formed under the UCC-APC by organizations and individuals who were interested in saving the UCAMA collections. An extensive list of community organization stakeholders came together under the UCC-APC to form the working committee. Its first meeting was held on July 7.

The goal of the project was to save the collections and archives from going to the auction. To do so UCC-APC with its Committee had to pay off $70,000 to the UMC lender. From the inception of the Project, the Committee set a goal of raising additional funds to pay for the moving costs, project manager and 10% administrative expense to UCC-APC. The total fundraising campaign was set to $85,000.

The fundraising campaign started two weeks after the Committee was formed. An agreement was made between the lender and UCC-APC that three payments will be made: August 31, September 30, October 30, 2020. UCC-APC made the final payment on October 9, 2020. A total of $90,006.40 was raised.

UCC-APC was prepared to receive up to $50,000 in AGLC restricted funds. This was accomplished by making a special request with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. UCC-APC deposited $50,000 into the Casino Account and $40,006.40 of non-restricted funds into the General Account.

The transfer agreements were completed on November 22. They were reviewed by UCC-APC legal counsel to ensure that they meet requirements and are set-up in a way that allows guaranteed protection for the acquired collections. Both UCC-APC and UCAMA are listed on the transfer agreements, and the new owners have the possession of listed artifacts. The legal ownership is in the hands of the new museums, and neither UCC-APC nor UCAMA have authority over the collections.

“We would like to say a special thank you to all of the individuals and organizations who donated their hard-earned money and entrusted UCC Alberta in leading and completing this project in a timely manner. We are also eternally grateful to the Committee-members who attended every meeting and helped raise this extraordinary amount of money in such a short period of time, less than three months.

“The story of UCAMA will serve as an example to the community for many reasons. We anticipate that despite the events, we will all learn from our experiences and we will be stronger by moving our organizational leadership of every level towards a path of financial and board accountability,” concludes the report.