Ulana Diachuk re-elected to serve third term as president

Opening of convention
Reports and discussion
By-Law changes
UNA finances
Svoboda and Soyuzivka
Secretaries Committe
UNA grants

by Andrij Kudla Wynnyckyj
Toronto Press Bureau

TORONTO - The Ukrainian National Association emerged from its 34th Regular Convention, the last of this century and the first to be held in Canada, with a mandate to merge with both the Ukrainian Fraternal Association (UFA) and the Ukrainian National Aid Association of America (UNAAA), but with its flagship daily, Svoboda, reduced to a weekly publication, and its Soyuzivka resort's season shortened to only the summer months.

The quadrennial convention, held on May 15-19 at the Toronto Hilton, brought together 227 delegates representing branches from across the U.S. and Canada.

On May 16, the convention voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms of the contracts under which mergers with the UFA and the UNAAA would take place, but rejected the proposal that the UNA change its name to the Ukrainian National Fraternal Association, in order to accommodate UFA demands. In doing so, the convention dismissed suggestions by Executive Committee members who had negotiated the contracts that a refusal of the name change would endanger the mergers.

On May 19, the final day of the conclave, delegates re-elected Ulana Diachuk to a third term as president of the fraternal organization, turning aside a strong challenge from Advisor and The Ukrainian Weekly Editor-in-Chief Roma Hadzewycz.

In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Diachuk said "at the outset of the convention I was 100 percent certain I would not be a candidate [for re-election] ... but only at the last minute when I saw your desires, your support and your confidence in me, I decided to continue to lead this organization."

The UNA president expressed the hope that all in attendance would look back in four years' time and be proud of what was accomplished at the convention and confident in the difficult decisions made.

Also returning to office were Anya Dydyk-Petrenko, as second vice-president, and Martha Lysko as secretary, both elected by acclamation. Treasurer Stefan Kaczaraj, who assumed the office as acting treasurer when Alexander Blahitka went on medical leave in November 1997, was confirmed by acclamation as treasurer.

Two-term incumbent Nestor Olesnycky declined to stand for another term as vice-president, making way for a newcomer. Chicago's Stefko Kuropas was elected first vice-president to the Executive Committee.

The Rev. Myron Stasiw, chairman of the convention's organizing committee, was acclaimed as director for Canada.

William Pastuszek, Stefan Hawrysz, Alexander Serafyn, Yaroslav Zaviysky and Michael Groch (representing Canada) were elected to the Auditing Committee. However, either Mr. Groch or Mr. Zaviysky will be asked to step aside when or if the proposed merger with the UFA goes through, as the contract of merger stipulates that the UFA would require one auditor and three advisor positions on the General Assembly.

Alexander Chudolij and Taras Szmagala Jr., were the top vote-getters in the election for the General Assembly's advisors (in fact Mr. Szmagala's 161 votes was the largest number cast for any post in the final round), and both were re-elected. Canada's Tekla Moroz was elected to her seventh consecutive term.

Also re-elected as advisors are Nick Diakiwsky, Walter Korchynsky and Stephanie Hawryluk. Newcomers are Halyna Kolessa, Dr. Wasyl Szeremeta and Andre Worobec. Albert Kachkowski of Canada is assured of a place as the UNA By-Laws require two Canadian advisors, while the newly elected Eugene Oscislawsky, Barbara Bachynsky and Andrij Skyba would be excused when or if the merger with the UFA is completed.

Opening of convention

The convention opened on May 15 with the Trillia Trio singing the national anthems of Ukraine and Canada, while the U.S. anthem and the hymn of the UNA were sung by Sviatoslava Kaczaraj. A greeting from Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma, read by his country's ambassador to Canada, Volodymyr Furkalo, hailed the UNA as the first organization that united Ukrainians outside Ukraine.

The Rev. Stasiw, chairman of the convention's organizing committee, welcomed delegates to Toronto and delivered the invocation.

President Diachuk then announced the opening of the convention, recalling the formation of the first UNA branch in the host country in 1916 in Toronto.

After the assembly stood for a minute of silence to honor departed UNA officers and members, the convention delegates got down to business, with a report by Credentials Committee Chairman George Yurkiw. (Other members of the committee included Lev Chirovsky, Gregory Klymenko, Myron Kuzio and Adolph Slovik.)

The convention elected a presidium, chaired by Judge Bohdan Doliszny of St. Catharines, Ontario, and co-chaired by Ihor Hayda and Taras Szmagala Sr. Daria Semegen and Andre Worobec served, respectively, as Ukrainian-language and English-language secretaries. Michael Turko and Stephen Kolodrub were designated as sergeants-at-arms. Michael Komichak of Pittsburgh acted as the convention's official recorder.

A 14-member Elections Committee was formed, as were the Secretaries and Petitions committees.

Reports and discussion

Mr. Szmagala, who chaired the next session, imposed time limits on the reports by UNA General Assembly members: 10 minutes for executive officers, five minutes for auditors and advisors, and Mr. Olesnycky was granted half an hour to read his report on the current status of the UNA. Treasurer Alexander Blahitka was hospitalized at the time of the convention and could not attend to deliver his report. Mr. Kaczaraj issued a statement in his stead.

Delegate protests over limitation of discussion time resulted in the holding of an evening session that lasted until 11 p.m.; discussion of reports was continued the following morning as well.


On May 16, upon completion of the discussion about reports, Mr. Olesnycky outlined the particulars of the contract entered into by the UNA executives as a result of negotiations with the leadership of the UFA and the UNAAA. Mr. Olesnycky made it clear that the UFA was insisting strenuously on a new name for the organization as a condition of the agreement and that the merger could fall through if it was not secured.

Mr. Olesnycky also said the insurance authorities of New Jersey, who oversee the UNA, have the final say in approving the merger. After the day's discussions, voting was conducted on voting machines with ballots that included three questions requiring a "yes" or "no" answer:

The name change was accepted by 137 delegates (61.2 percent), and rejected by 87 (38.8 percent), but fell short of the two-thirds majority required to effect a change to the UNA By-Laws.

The questions about the mergers were approved by large margins:196-22 (89.9 percent to 10.1 percent) for the UFA, and 192-25 (88.5 percent to 11.5 percent) for the UNAAA.

A banquet was held during the evening of May 16 at the Toronto Hilton. The keynote speakers at the banquet were John Gregorovich, chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Viacheslav Briukhovetsky, president of the National University of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. National Fraternal Congress of America Executive Vice-President David Tetzlaff also addressed participants.

By-Law changes

The convention's By-Laws Committee, consisting of Leon Hardink (chairman), Marianne Cizdyn, Steve Czorney, Michael Karkoc and Longin Staruch, submitted a report on May 17 based on recommendations made by the Executive Committee, and the process of outlining to the delegates the proposed changes was handled item by item by Advisor Taras Szmagala Jr., an Ohio-based attorney.

Mr. Szmagala proposed that certain rules governing conventions, the suspension or dissolution of branches, funds of the UNA, and the fraternal fund be moved out of the By-Laws and into so-called "rules manuals," so that changes could be effected without a stringent requirement of a two-thirds majority vote of convention delegates. The provision passed.

Among the provisions approved by two-thirds majority:

The most far-reaching proposal passed was: "That the General Assembly of the UNA elected at this convention is hereby directed to prepare a referendum to amend the Charter and By-Laws of the UNA to provide for a governance structure consisting of an 11-member Board of Directors to be elected by the 35th Convention to conduct the business of the UNA between conventions. The Board of Directors shall meet no less than quarterly, and shall have the authority to hire the Executive Committee in such manner as it shall determine. This referendum shall be completed no later than December 31, 1999."

On May 17, delegates helped fill Toronto's St. Patrick's German Catholic Church, where a UNA-sponsored concert was held featuring the award-winning women's choir Vesnivka, and singer and ethnomusicologist Alexis Kochan and her ensemble, Paris to Kyiv.

UNA finances

On May 18, the Financial Committee issued its report. The committee was composed of John Gawaluch, chairman, Nicholas Fil, Larissa Hwozdulych, Gloria Paschen and Yaroslav Zaviysky. Aided by the acting treasurer, Mr. Kaczaraj, the committee made several suggestions to cut the budget.

The budget for 1998 submitted in November 1997 (which predicted an income of $10,774,000 and $11,024,000 in expenses, resulting in a deficit of $250,000) was submitted for substantial modification, which would take into account the restructuring and downsizing of the UNA's operations as agreed at the convention. It was indicated that $300,000 could be saved by shortening the Soyuzivka season to June 1 through September 15 and that the deficit created by the daily Svoboda could be reduced substantially, if not eliminated totally, if the newspaper were transformed into a weekly.

Svoboda and Soyuzivka

The Finance Committee's report engendered the most emotional debate of the convention, as it recommended a raft of cuts to fraternal benefits, centering on the UNA's official publications, the Soyuzivka estate and an extension of the halt on issuance of UNA dividends.

On the morning of May 18, delegates voted to reject the Finance Committee's recommendation to make Svoboda a weekly, by a margin of 121-62. However, later in the day, session chair Taras Szmagala Sr. allowed the Financial Committee's request for a reconsideration of the vote. Another vote was taken and the Elections Committee recorded 138 votes for, 47 against, and 10 abstentions to making Svoboda a weekly.

Since the UNA By-Laws stipulate that one of the organization's two official publications is the Svoboda daily, in order to be adopted the recommendation needed to pass by a two-thirds vote. According to the UNA By-Laws, such an amendment must pass with consent from two-thirds of the delegates registered at a convention.

A total of 195 delegates voted on the Svoboda recommendation, of which 138 is 70.7 percent. However, 227 delegates were registered at the 34th convention, of which 138 is merely 60.8 percent. The chairman of the session declared that the measure had passed by the required two-thirds.

The convention also unanimously voted to adjust Svoboda's subscription rate to $50 annually for non-members and $40 for members, with a provision to credit current subscribers to the daily for the difference in rates.

The Ukrainian Weekly's rate also was adjusted to $50/$40. The changes are slated to go into effect July 1.

The Soyuzivka debate also was extensive, and was presided over by Judge Doliszny. The vote was taken, but the numbers were not recorded by the Elections Committee, as the chair deemed that a sufficient majority had indicated they were in favor of the motion to cut the UNA estate's season to three and a half months. The change is slated to go into effect for the 1999 season.

Secretaries Committee

The Secretaries Committee consisted of Tymko Butrey, chairman, Julie Guglik, secretary, Myron Groch, Maria Zaviysky, Joseph Hawryluk and Vera Gojewycz. Their recommendations, adopted unanimously by the convention on May 18, included: when the financial situation of the UNA improves, to raise the reward for sale of certificates of class P-65 and P-20 for the first year from the current 50 percent to 60 percent; for class E-18, E-20 and E-65 from the current 30 percent to 40 percent. The committee also recommended to raise the monthly collected dues from the current 12 percent to 15 percent on certificates across the board; to send the monthly assessment sheets by the 15th of the month; to issue a dividend in 1998, even for a lesser amount.

UNA grants

The Petitions Committee, which every four years reviews projects submitted to the UNA for funding, was sharply restricted in the scope of projects it could fund. Due to financial constraints, only $3,000 was allocated for the Petitions Committee, $47,000 less than at the 33rd convention.

The committee consisted of Irene Serba, chairperson, Nick Diakiwsky, Adolph Hladylovych, Wolodymyr Jaciw, Wasyl Liscynesky and Myron Lusczak, members.

Last to report on its work, after balloting on the final elections was completed on Tuesday morning, May 19, was the Press and Resolutions Committee, chaired by Roman Ferencevych. Its Ukrainian-language secretary was Halyna Kolessa, while the English-language secretary was Andrij Kudla Wynnyckyj. Other members of the committee included Vera Krywyj and Wasyl Sharvan.

The committee issued a general greeting to Ukraine, restated the decisions adopted by the convention as proposed by its committees, and read out resolutions proposed by individual delegates.

A directive to the Executive Committee to "hire a competent financial consultant to review and evaluate the entire UNA organization, its financial position, and to discover ways and means to restore the UNA to a solid financial status," passed with 140 for, 23 against and 14 abstaining.

The following resolutions were passed unanimously: that quadrennial district chairpersons' caucuses be held two years after each regular convention to provide them with a forum to discuss ideas on organizing; that branch secretaries be reminded that adherence to the UNA's By-Laws is mandatory in the selection of delegates to a regular convention; that the UNA General Assembly thoroughly investigate the area of charitable giving, planned giving and fund-raising to support UNA fraternal activities, in particular Soyuzivka, with a view to vigorously employing these means to increase the UNA's annual income; and that a bust be erected and dedicated at Soyuzivka to the memory of the late Patriarch Mstyslav as soon as possible.

The Election Committee, chaired by Nicholas Bobeczko, then arrived to announce the results of the final election (see box). After the delegates had congratulated Mrs. Diachuk with their applause, Ms. Hadzewycz rose to deliver her concession speech. The former advisor expressed thanks for the support offered by delegates and for their willingness to hear new ideas, and pledged to continue to serve the UNA if offered the opportunity.

Mrs. Diachuk followed with her acceptance speech. She expressed thanks to Ms. Hadzewycz for standing for office when there was no candidate for president, and for her dedication and love for the UNA. She offered thanks for the work of the convention's organizers and its various committees. The UNA president urged the membership to fraternally greet those who will soon arrive into the fold following the mergers with the UFA and UNAAA, and she urged delegates to pledge that they would enroll new members into the organization.

Thereupon, Honorary Member of the General Assembly Stephen Kuropas Sr., 97, led the UNA's newly elected leadership in the oath of office.

Mrs. Kaczaraj led the delegates in the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem, and the Rev. Stasiw led the signing of "Khrystos Voskres," a prayer that formally brought to conclusion the 34th Regular Convention of the Ukrainian National Association.

Final election results

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, May 24, 1998, No. 21, Vol. LXVI

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