The Ukrainian Canadian community has undergone a process of very rapid change, practically independent of any direction provided by existing core organizations. Since the arrival of the first Ukrainian settlers to Canada in 1891, Canadians of Ukrainian background have played a major role in the development of Canada. As of the 2016 census, there are over 1.35 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent.
By November 1940 Ukrainians become a significant ethnic force in Canada creating the Ukrainian Canadian Committee in that year. In 1989 at the 16th Triennial meeting, the membership approved and changed the name to Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC). As the representative of the Ukrainian Canadian community, Ukrainian Canadian Congress became the voice by promoting the linkage between Ukrainians and Government of Canada. Since 1940 Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been instrumental in shaping Canada’s social, economic and political landscape.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress was created to unite all Ukrainian organizations under one governing body and to co-ordinate the activities of the member organizations and represent them before governments and the Canadian community. Organizational representation came from youth, professionals, educationists and associations making a definite contribution to the Ukrainian community in Canada.
The first five national organizations that came together to form the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in 1940 were Ukrainian National Federation, Ukrainian Self-Reliance League, Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood, United Hetman Organization and League of Ukrainian Organizations. These first five national organizations represented several similar organizations having branches across Canada and thus the UCC was recognized as the national coordinating body and the umbrella spokesperson for the majority of Ukrainian Canadians.
In June of 1943, the First Congress of Ukrainian Canadians was held in Winnipeg, where the theme was Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s aid in Canada’s war effort and aid in Ukraine’s quest for freedom. In addition, it was mentioned that Ukrainians belonged to an ethnic group that gave Canada the greatest percentage in proportion to their total numbers of volunteers for the armed services. Then the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, R.F. McWilliam underlined that fact, at the 1st inaugural Ukrainian Canadian Congress of June 22, 1943. This first Congress gave Ukrainians strength and self-confidence in their endeavors.
The Second Congress was held in Toronto in June of 1946. This Congress devoted itself to the question of assistance of Ukrainian Political Refugees in Europe. During this Congress, the Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Association joined as the sixth member organization. Also, it was the first-time women participated in the Congress under the organization of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee Women’s Council.
At the Fourth Congress in 1953, much attention was given to broadening the Constitutional framework of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. This was the first time since the 1940 Inaugural Act, that the UCC Constitution was discussed.
The Fifth Congress in 1956 was noteworthy in that it marked the organizational growth of National UCC, adding such organizations like the Ukrainian National Association, Ukrainian Evangelical Alliance, Council of Ukrainian Canadian Youth, Ukrainian Canadian University Student’s Union, Ukrainian Free Academy of Arts and Science and the Shevchenko Scientific Society.
Into the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s other national organizations joined the Ukrainian Canadian Congress such as the Ukrainian Professional and Business Club, Ukrainian Canadian University Student’s Association and the formation of the Ukrainian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko on July 22nd, 1962. Through the efforts of Senators John Hnatyshyn, William Hall and Paul Yuzyk and MP Nicholas Mandziuk, Bill S-21 “An Act to incorporate the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko” was successfully introduced in the Canadian Parliament and signed by the Governor General G.P. Vanier. To this day the Taras Shevchenko Foundation has been instrumental in promoting, developing and preserving Ukrainian Canadian cultural heritage by providing leadership in building and sustaining a permanent endowment fund.
With the adoption of Bilingualism in the 1960’s and subsequently Multiculturalism into the 1970’s and 1980’s by the Canadian government, due to these two legislations, the role of Canadian Ukrainian Congress was enriched. UCC ‘s mandate changed too, enhancing and further preserving the Ukrainian language and heritage. It is with some pride and sense of achievement that Ukrainian Canadians can claim that they spearheaded the movement of multiculturalism, lead by former Senator Paul Yuyk. The multicultural concept in Canada gave the UCC assurance that there is a need to unite under the banner of Ukrainian Canadian Congress and that the Ukrainian community will continue to make important contributions to Canada, in all walks of life.
Presently, Ukrainian Canadian Congress is made up of 28 national Ukrainian organizations which represent themselves as a federation; composed of societies, associations, institutions, affiliations, clubs, educational, cultural, fraternal, benevolent and of political character.
UCC National Members:
+Canada Ukraine Chamber of Commerce (CUCC)
+Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF)
+Canadian Lemko’s Association
+Canadian Ukrainian Immigrant Aid Society (CIAS)
+Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund
+Council of Ukrainian Credit Unions of Canada (CUCUC)
+League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC)
+League of Ukrainian Canadian Women (LUCW)
+Plast Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada
+Shevchenko Scientific Society
+Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences (UVAN)
+Ukrainian Canadian Research & Development Centre (UCRDC)
+Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK)
+Ukrainian Canadian Bar Association (UCBA)
+Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko
+Ukrainian Canadian Professional & Business Federation (UCPBF)
+Ukrainian Canadian Social Services of Canada (UCSSC)
+Ukrainian Catholic Brotherhood of Canada (BUK)
+Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada (UCWLC)
+Ukrainian Fraternal Society of Canada
+Ukrainian National Association Inc. (UNA)
+Ukrainian National Federation of Canada (UNF)
+Ukrainian Orthodox Youth of Canada (CYMK)
+Ukrainian Self Reliance Association (TYC)
+Ukrainian Self Reliance League of Canada (SUS)
+Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada
+Ukrainian Women’s Organization of Canada
+Ukrainian Youth Association (SUM)
In addition, 20 local branches throughout Canada are working within the Ukrainian community, addressing issues with their civic levels of government. There are 6 provincial councils, one of them, Ukrainian Canadian Congress-Manitoba Provincial Council. UCC does not delegate or assign its responsibility to any organization or institution to represent or act on behalf of the Ukrainian community before the government on any issue. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress meets every three years and acts as the legislative authority for the Ukrainian Canadian community.
Recently the Ukrainian Canadian Congress held its 26th Triennial meeting in Ottawa, Ontario on November 1-3, 2019, hosting over 300 delegates and guests. This Triennial Congress of Ukrainian Canadians became the policy forum where the Ukrainian community elected leaders for the next three years and deliberated on many important issues. Discussion evolved around:
-what has changed in the Ukrainian Canadian community over the years?
-engaging the unengaged-stories and issues in engaging outside the traditional community.
-how to maintain good government relations?
-engaging volunteers at various generations and approaches.
-human rights with an international and Canadian perspective.
-success stories in Ukrainian Canadian business.
-Ukraine and Ukrainians in the global context.
-successes and challenges in Ukrainian education in Canada.
In addition, the Triennial Congress focused on such topics:
*strengthening Canada-Ukraine defense and security relations.
*supporting democratic and economic reform in Ukraine.
*fighting online hate and disinformation.
*welcoming newcomers to Canada.
* helping our culture flourish.
*ensuring quality, safe and affordable care for seniors.
The theme of the 26th Triennial Congress was “Share Your Vision, Build Our Future.”
In closing, over the 80 years, Ukrainian Canadian Congress has acted as an authoritative representative of the Ukrainian Canadian community before the people and government of Canada. Secondly, UCC has strengthen and coordinated the participation of the Ukrainian community in the Canadian social and cultural life. Thirdly, Ukrainian Canadian Congress has safeguarded the justifiable aspirations of the Ukrainian people in the Diaspora. The fourth objective, UCC has sponsored and maintained among the member organizations mutual respect, tolerance and formulized all matters that are a common interest to all. Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been a cornerstone and a pillar for Ukrainians from coast to coast over eight decades, a solid sound presence in Canada.
UCC past Presidents:
Rev. Dr. Wasyl Kushnir (1940-1953)
Mr. Antony Yaremovich (1953-1957)
Very Rev. Dr. Serge Sawchuk (1957-1959)
Rev. Dr. Wasyl Kushmir (1959-1971)
Dr. Peter Kondra (1971-1974)
Mr. Serge Radchuk, C.M., Q.C. (1974-1980)
Mr. John Nowosad (1980-1996)
Dr. Dmytro Cipywnyk C.M., M.D. (1986-1992)
Mr. Oleh Romaniw Q.C. (1992-1998)
Mr. Eugene Czolij Q.C. (1998-2004)
Ms. Orysia Sushko (2004-2007)
Mr. Paul Grod (2007-2018)
Ms. Alexandra Chyczij (2018-present)