Canada’s defense minister addresses Ukrainian community
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) held its annual general meeting and a meeting of its board of directors on October 13 through October 15 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Community leaders and executive members from across the country gathered to discuss the progress on UCC priorities set at the XXV Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians last year. Over 40 delegates from member organizations, provincial councils and local branches attended. Dialogue and debate were focused around the three broad pillars guiding the work of the UCC: developing the Ukrainian Canadian community; celebrating and advancing the Ukrainian Canadian identity; and supporting Ukraine.
“It was a pleasure for our community in Vancouver to host this year’s AGM,” stated Natalie Jatskevich, president of the UCC British Columbia Provincial Council and UCC Vancouver Branch. “Thank you to all the delegates who attended for a lively, vibrant and substantive discussion.”
On Saturday, October 14, the UCC National Leadership Dinner, dedicated to the Canada-Ukraine Partnership and the UCC Leadership Awards, was held. Ms. Jatskevich greeted the guests of the dinner on behalf of Vancouver’s Ukrainian community. The guests at the dinner honored Ukraine’s men and women in uniform on the occasion of the Day of the Defender of Ukraine.
The keynote address was delivered by Canada’s Minister of National Defense Harjit S. Sajjan. Guests of honor included: Bruce Ralston, British Columbia’s minister of jobs, trade and technology; Ambassador Andrii Veselovskyi, Ukraine’s consul general in Toronto; and Mir Huculak, Ukraine’s honorary consul in Vancouver.
Minister Sajjan noted: “As of September 1, Canadian Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force-Ukraine has trained more than 5,580 Ukrainian soldiers in over 140 courses. On my most recent trip to Lviv I saw the ways the soldiers from Ukraine and Canada are benefitting from the knowledge and experience from each other. It is tremendous to see.” He added, “We are cautiously optimistic about a potential peacekeeping mission in Ukraine, if there is the right mandate, and if Ukraine has a strong voice to ensure its needs are met – and that is very critical – that Ukraine’s needs are met.”
UCC National President Paul Grod presented Minister Sajjan with a “vyshyvanka,” a Ukrainian embroidered shirt, in appreciation for his strong commitment to supporting Ukraine.
UCC National Leadership Awards were presented to: Ann Kvitka Kozak, director of the Svitanok Chorus; Gladys Andreas, founder and first president of the B.C. Ukrainian Cultural Festival; and Vitaliy Kubatskyy, founder of Ukrainian Media Society (Vancouver) and Ukrainian Vancouver, an independent online newspaper.
UCC leadership meets
On Friday, October 14, the weekend began with an executive committee priority-setting session, followed by a joint meeting of the UCC national executive and provincial council presidents, and a meeting of the UCC board of directors.
The board then held a discussion led by Ambassador Veselovskyi and UCC National President Grod on Canada’s role in supporting Ukraine in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
The UCC annual general meeting was convened the next day. Reports were delivered by President Grod, CEO Ihor Michalchyshyn, and outgoing Treasurer Walter Dlugosh. Delegates thanked Mr. Dlugosh for his years of dedicated and conscientious service as UCC national treasurer, and welcomed Romana Latenko, who was recently appointed UCC treasurer by the board.
The UCC’s six provincial council presidents (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec) and presidents of local branches presented the activities of their bodies and discussed successes and challenges with the delegates.
Chairs of committees established to implement the resolutions adopted at the most recent triennial congress, presented reports on their work. The AGM also heard reports from the UCC board of auditors, the UCC Charitable and Educational Trust, and the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.
Following the adjournment of the AGM, delegates and Vancouver community members participated in two interactive workshops: “Digital Communications and Social Media,” led by UCC Executive Committee Member Cassian Soltykevych and National Youth Coordinator Connor Moen; and “Community Advocacy and Government Relations,” led by UCC Executive Committee Member Markian Shwec and UCC CEO Michalchyshyn.
On Sunday morning, following a moleben service, the board of directors reconvened to discuss community programs and humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, as well as potential opportunities for cooperation with the government of Canada on community-led projects in Ukraine. The discussions were led by Paul Migus, UCC director of government relations and John Holuk, chair of the UCC Ukraine Appeal.