Since the arrival of the first wave of Ukrainian migration to this country 128 years ago, Canadian life and culture has been enriched by their values, ethics and hard pioneering work. Ukrainian Canadians have played a significant role in the country’s development, have strived to maintain the dignity of individual identity, and have established and supported many organizations to which they belong. Each successive wave of Ukrainian immigrates had their own distinctive skills, experiences, desires, and something special to contribute to Canada.
This year marks the 98th anniversary of the Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada.
Ukrainians came to Canada to find freedom from various types of oppression, and to seek the prospects of a brighter future for themselves and their descendants. Some abandoned their native soil for the perilous voyage abroad to begin their life in Canada without many material possessions or wealth. The early immigrants worked hard to survive and build their lives in a new land, often dealing with societal, economic, and corporate prejudices, and having to be totally self-reliant.
Many Ukrainians had no financial resources or support, save from the sympathy and charity of neighbours of the same kind, until the formation of community organizations for the mutual benefit of their memberships, one of which was the establishment of the Ukrainian Relief Association in November of 1921. Membership in this Winnipeg-based Association was open to all Ukrainian Canadians, regardless of their religious or political orientation.
Upon the passing of Ukrainian Canadians without assets to cover the most basic of final costs had necessitated the response of community charity and the realization that it was incumbent on the community to create an organization to prevent such further circumstances; the Ukrainian Relief Association was formed in order to assist families with the cost of burials and other final expenses.
The creation of the Ukrainian Relief Association fostered ties of kinship among members of the Ukrainian Canadian community and provided a measure of financial security and support, by issuing certificates of life insurance that provided a payment of $400.00 to the beneficiary of a deceased member and also providing its members and their families with fraternal and charitable assistance. The popularity of the realized concept spread far beyond Winnipeg’s bounds.
In 1922 the Ukrainian Relief Association celebrated its first anniversary and a successful year in the growth of membership and assets. Over the next two years the membership doubled and so did the earnings of the pooled invested membership dues. By 1925 the Association began to branch out across Canada to urban and rural areas where Ukrainian Canadians resided.
To continue the benefits to its members, in 1943 the Ukrainian Relief Association adopted a new Charter and By-laws, because the Association not only conducted beneficial activities, but also conducted actuarial activity which it could not legally do under its existing charter. Therefore, under the requirements and provisions of the Dominion of Canada Insurance Act, the Association renamed and re-branded itself as the Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada (UFSC), thus becoming a fully-licenced federally regulated life insurance fraternal mutual benefit society.
Since that time its membership has grown into the thousands, its policyholders choosing from a variety of life insurance products and related benefits. UFSC has historically been able to further benefit its members through profit sharing, either by automatically increasing the face value of life insurance policies, or by issuing financial dividends and facilitating further savings growth and profits for its members.
The Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada has faithfully served its members and provided financial support to the Ukrainian Canadian cultural community in Winnipeg and throughout Canada where its branch chapters exist. UFSC head office was initially located in Winnipeg’s Ukrainian National Home Association (UNHA) building. In 1969 UFSC opened its new and current headquarters at 235 McGregor Avenue, adjacent to the former UNHA building.
In response to changing economic and regulatory realities and in the beneficial interest of the respective memberships a major event transpired on January 1, 2011. The life insurance portfolio of the Ukrainian Mutual Benefit Association of St. Nicholas of Canada was amalgamated with that of the UFSC. At the 2018 UFSC Convention it was unanimously agreed to potentially open membership to all Canadians who have an interest in the heritage of fraternalism. In order to convey this expanded eligibility, the UFSC is in the process of re-branding itself and is preparing to operate under a new corporate name, as Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada Heritage Life Insurance. It will continue as a fraternal mutual benefit society, carrying on its insurance and benefits work solely for the protection of its members, their families, and beneficiaries.
One of the many objectives of the Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada is to cultivate among its members a sense of cooperation by promoting, establishing and sustaining strong ties within the Ukrainian Canadian community. The Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada has been a solid pillar in Canada’s Ukrainian Canadian establishment.
UFSC has begun plans for its 100th Anniversary celebration to be held in June 2021 at the Winnipeg Hilton Airport Suites. Members will be treated to a memorable evening of great food, exceptional entertainment, informational displays, and the opportunity to socialize and reminisce.
For more information go to FYI at – https://ufsc.ca
Ukrainian Relief Association – Presidents from 1921 to 1943
1921 – John Tracz
1922 – Zenon Bychynskyj
1923 – William Dowhanyk
1924 – John Bohonos
1925-1935 – Morris Stechyshyn
1936-1943 – William Dowhanyk
Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada – Presidents from 1943 to Present
1943-1947 – Taras Ferley
1947-1950 – Vacant
1950-1959 – John Tracz
1959-1972 – John Syrnick
1972-1994 – Serge Radchuk
1994-2002 – Maurice Bugera
2002-2014 – Boris Salamon
2014-Present – Dr. Michael Lasko