Canadian Ps and Bs challenge UCC's crown
by Christopher Guly
OTTAWA - The Ukrainian Canadian Congress' (UCC's) future relevance as the official voice of the community and the geographic location of its headquarters were challenged at the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation (UCPBF) Eastern Canada Conference held in Ottawa on July 12-14.
About 45 UCPBF members participated in four workshops, hammering out recommendations for a national federation strategy. Conference delegates examined such issues as government and community relations in Canada, Canada-U.S. relations and Canada- Ukraine relations. In all four, the UCPBF sees itself playing perhaps the most vital role in strengthening links.
For example, the federation - one of the UCC's so-called "big six" organizations, along with the Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood, the Self-Reliance League, the League of Ukrainian Canadians, the Ukrainian National Federation and the recently added Ukrainian Credit Union Council of Canada - "is the only organization that brings expertise from every segment of Canadian society," says one of the recommendations. "It is also the only organization that does not bring with it any political or religious influence, but represents all of its membership from east to west."
Founded 35 years ago in Winnipeg, the UCPBF has a membership of about 2,000 people who belong to 18 associations across Canada. Given its non-political, non-religious agenda, the federation also believes "it is in a most favorable position to provide objective views on issues affecting the community in Canada."
Since its members come from the professional and business world, the UCPBF suggests that it should lead the development of links with Ukrainian organizations in both the United States and Ukraine.
Essentially, the UCC had best look over its shoulder as the UCPBF prepares to steamroll over the 56-year-old national body. In a report to the federation, Mykhailo Wawryshyn, the UCPBF's representative to the UCC, criticizes the congress for not devoting "enough attention to getting its message across to our community in any language (Ukrainian/English/French). As far as the mainstream media is concerned, we are virtually non-existent."
Mr. Wawryshyn also recommended the UCC's headquarters be moved out of Winnipeg. "None of our urban centers which have a sizable Canadian Ukrainian community can consistently provide suitable executive material on a continuing basis. Furthermore, any organization which is centered in any city for over 50 years becomes regarded not as a national one, but one that is local in nature. More specifically, the UCC has become regarded as the 'Winnipeg' UCC and not the 'Canadian' UCC."
However, the federation rep to the UCC applauded the congress' decision to hold its next triennial meeting in 1998 in Edmonton - where it was supposed to be held last year, rather than in Winnipeg, where it was held.
Next year, the UCPBF also will hold its biennial meeting in Alberta, when delegates converge on the resort community of Banff in August 1997.
National conference organizers are hoping to see attendance reflective of UCPBF's membership, which comes from as far east as Halifax, Nova Scotia, to as far west as Victoria, British Columbia.
If the recent Ottawa meeting is any indication, getting people involved to implement some of the federation's future policies may be their greatest challenge. Only a handful of executive members of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association (UCPBA) of Ottawa attended the July conference.
"We were really disappointed by the Ottawa group's showing," said UCPBF President Raya Shadursky. "We had people travelling from other cities to be there, but people couldn't find the time to come to our meeting in their own city."
Ms. Shadursky is hoping more western Canadian UCPBA members will attend the next and final regional conference in the fall - especially delegates from the host city, Vancouver.
But if the federation cannot attract people to physically attend meetings, it is trying to keep members linked electronically. The UCPBF home page on the World Wide Web (http://soma.crl.mcmaster.ca/~kostiuk/) offers links to 16 local associations in Canada and the United States, as well as trade- and business-related sites from the Canadian government and other Ukrainian home pages. The federation web page also has a listserver to send e-mail messages to anyone included in the UCPBF's electronic mail service.
Among some of the federation's home page sites:
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 18, 1996, No. 33, Vol. LXIV
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