NP-UN Western Bureau.
During their October 7 Shumka on Tour performance at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Shumka saluted several Local Heroes in the diaspora whose efforts have provided humanitarian aid, military skills and immigration support to Ukrainian families, friends and fellow keepers of our culture.
“Now, more than ever, it is time to pay tribute to the selfless and significant work of those we are proud to call ‘our own’, stated Shumka in a media release.
The Local Heroes honoured are as follows.
The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts, like so many other organizations across the world, responded to the crisis in Ukraine. From providing space for artists, work bees, fundraisers to a venue to sell goods, ACUA has worked to support the efforts of many artists in their efforts to help Ukraine.
Gordon Gordey, Shevchenko Foundation
Gordon Gordey serves as the first Vice President of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Shevchenko. He is recognized in our community as one of the 100 most influential people in the development of theatre in Alberta. Formerly Shumka’s Artistic Director, he worked with immensely talented choreographers, dancers, composers, stage and costume designers and producers to set a benchmark for original Ukrainian dance in Canada.
Larisa Hayduk, URDC
Larisa Hayduk is the Director of the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre (URDC) at MacEwan University. She is passionate about innovative approaches to connecting people in meaningful and respectful ways. An educator originally from central Ukraine, Larisa keeps close ties with Ukraine on a personal, volunteer, and professional level.
Bishop David Motiuk, Edmonton Eparchy
The Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Edmonton serves some 25,000 faithful in 81 parishes and missions throughout Alberta. His Grace, Bishop David Motiuk is entrusted with the oversight and spiritual care for the people within the Eparchy.
In April 2022, Lev Rinhel started a Furniture Warehouse as a way of helping newcomers get furniture for their homes in Canada, which were typically empty when they moved in. It was a complicated, big project that required a clear plan of what to do, organizing of volunteers, and most of all, a desire to ‘roll up our sleeves’ and get to work.
Emily Belke Farrell, AUDA
The Alberta Ukrainian Dance Association (AUDA) endeavors tirelessly to invigorate and promote Ukrainian Culture in Alberta through dance initiatives and grant opportunities. AUDA is incredibly proud of the commitment and resilience displayed by the Ukrainian Dance Community as well as the collaboration and camaraderie that have grown out of these deeply challenging times.
Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk
Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk is a descendant of Ukrainian immigrants who homesteaded between Holden and Daysland in 1903. Raised in rural Alberta, he studied at both Royal Roads Military College and the Royal Military College of Canada, and was commissioned in the Canadian Army in 1986. Over the course of his military career, Paul was blessed to command troops on multiple occasions including the Canadian Army from 2016 to 2018. It was in this last assignment that Paul oversaw the expansion and refinement of Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s mission to train Ukrainian soldiers on NATO standards and tactics.
Lianna Makuch (she/her) is a second-generation Ukrainian Canadian theatre artist in amiskwaciwâskahikan on Treaty Six Territory. She is a performer, playwright, emerging director, and a graduate of the BFA Acting Program at the University of Alberta. Lianna is the co-Artistic Producer of Pyretic Productions and a producer with Punctuate! Theatre. She is the playwright and principal performer in the award-winning play Barvinok, formerly titled Blood of Our Soil. The play is inspired by the experiences of the playwright’s grandparents who fled Ukraine during WWII, and true accounts from Eastern Ukraine.
The Free Store for Ukrainian Newcomers, founded by Janice Krissa-Moore, and her daughter, Jorgia Krissa-Moore, is a store in downtown Edmonton and the first of its kind in the city. The store provides clothing and essentials at no charge to Ukrainian newcomers displaced by the war in Ukraine. What makes Free Store different is that it is in a beautiful, premium downtown location where ‘shoppers’ can feel a sense of pride and motivation. The products are also premium thanks to the community’s support to provide a hand-up to our newcomers.
Vincent Rees has been involved in the Ukrainian community in many ways his entire life. After completing an undergrad in Ukrainian Language and Literature and a Masters in Ukrainian Folklore, he was perfectly suited to begin sharing his passion with others and began leading group tours to Ukraine with the innovative travel company, Cobblestone Freeway Tours, originally set up to support cultural heritage projects related to sustainable cultural tourism in Ukraine and elsewhere. However, with the onset of the war on Ukraine, CFF quickly shifted gears to support those in need in Ukraine.
Firefighter Aid Ukraine (FAU) was established almost 10 years ago after Edmonton Firefighter and founder, Kevin Royle visited Ukraine on a Rotary Group study exchange focused on emergency services. As of October 1, 2022, FAU has delivered over 200 tons of aid to Ukraine consisting of firefighter and first responder personal protective equipment, specialty rescue tools, first aid supplies, hospital diagnostic equipment, and surgical instruments. Equipment and funding were collected throughout Alberta, Canada, and around the world from departments, communities, businesses, organizations, and individuals.
Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (Edmonton Branch) is a local voluntary organization helping local Ukrainians. On February 24, 2022 their work took on an international focus, and a role above and beyond their mandate. UCSS was the benefactor of approximately $320,000.00 as of September 16, 2022. As a non-profit, charitable organization, Ukrainian Canadian Social Services responds to the needs and interests of both the Ukrainian Community as a whole and individuals through its wide range of services.
Orysia Boychuk, President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC)
Not only is Orysia Boychuk a visionary leader who started mobilizing Alberta’s Ukrainian community; she quickly formed networks with many organizations and settlement agencies that would help those fleeing the war in Ukraine. Many evacuees fled without resources, contacts in Edmonton, or the ability to converse in English. In her role as president of an umbrella organization, she utilized networks throughout the province relying on her vast knowledge of the Ukrainian community. Orysia exemplifies servant leadership by aiding wherever it is needed, whether in Edmonton, Calgary, or other places in Alberta.
Ed & Marie Stelmach, United for Ukraine
The Ed Stelmach Community Foundation was formed in 2007 to support smaller and highly motivated charities across Alberta that foster programs with a focus on family values. The mandate of the charity fit in well with the need for humanitarian aid for Ukraine, especially women and children that were left homeless after the invasion.
Thomas Lukaszuk, Former MLA and Deputy Premier
“[I was] watching the news and seeing the atrocities that are being inflicted on Ukrainian people by Russia made me realize that there must be something that we can possibly do from here.” – CTV interview with Lukaszuk, March 2022 It started with a late-night call to Ed Stelmach and resulted in more than $35,000,000 in humanitarian aid; the largest civilian humanitarian foreign aid effort in Canadian history. Working with Polish Airlines LOT for an aircraft and Shell for fuel, 67 refugees landed in Edmonton and a Boeing 787 was filled with necessities, clothing, and medical supplies on its way back to Warsaw.
Helen Facsko, United for Ukraine
As president of the Canadian Polish Historical Society, Helen Facsko was honoured to participate in Ed Stelmach and Thomas Lukaszuk’s ”United For Ukraine” initiative. Helen coordinated volunteers for collecting, sorting and packing of thousands of boxes of medical equipment, food, clothing, medications and other humanitarian aid products. She also provided volunteers with meals and other support.
Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, Vice-President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
Over the last 7 months, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress has pushed for sanctions against Russia and helped establish a VISA program to allow Ukrainian Nationals to come to Canada for the next 3 years. UCC has worked with Government to establish federal funding for the Displaced Ukrainians and continues to push for increased assistance for Nationals and for increased sanctions against Russia. In turn, Russia has sanctioned all UCC Executive, including Olesia. Olesia proudly accepted her sanction from Russia.
Ivan Lypovyk, President of the Ukrainian National Federation Edmonton Branch
Ivan Lypovyk, President of the Ukrainian National Federation Edmonton Branch led the organization of the Airport Welcome Booth for newcomers.
From March to June 2022, 892 shifts were filled with volunteers, accounting for over 5000 hours. In addition, more than $30,000 was raised and donated to support Ukraine.
Liubov Alkonova, Mill Creek Christian Assembly (MCCA) Help Centre for Ukrainian Newcomers
Liubov Alkonova is a representative from Mill Creek Christian Assembly (MCCA) Help Center for Ukrainian Newcomers. The center is a nonprofit organization solely reliant on volunteers, donors, and those that love and are willing to help others in need. When the war broke out in Ukraine, with permission and support of their pastor, Rev.Yaroslav Kurpita, they opened a center in their church on March 29, 2022. In the beginning, the team of volunteers was around 30 people and grew. The response from the community was unbelievable! In the church, four rooms, the hallway and the large basement were packed with clothing, shoes, school supplies, hygiene, and household items.
Alla Nedashkivska, Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies University of Alberta
Alla Nedashkivska has long been a strong advocate of all things Ukrainian at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies (MLCS) at the University of Alberta (UofA). Thus well placed, she hit the ground running when war broke out. Partnering with the Department of Music (specifically William Street, Chair, and Andriy Talpash, Lecturer), Alla was MLCS lead in organizing the Fundraising for Ukraine Concert on March 12, 2022. This was the first major in-person concert since the COVID-19 pandemic, and tickets were in such high demand that it was also live-streamed, garnering over 4,000 views and raising over $30,000. Through this huge event, the UofA was able to directly engage with our strong Ukrainian community.
Victor Cui and Allan Watt, President and CEO | Vice President of Marketing & Communications Edmonton Elks
On Friday, June 3 the Edmonton Elks proudly displayed their support for the people of Ukraine through their Stand With Ukraine game against the Calgary Stampeders.
Through the sale of single-game tickets for $15, the Elks were proud to raise $173,000 in support of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, as Edmontonians rallied around a cause that means so much to our community. The money raised has since gone to help Ukraine and Ukrainians who have arrived here in Canada, showing once again the power football has to bring us together and make a difference.
Martyn Stusiak, President, The League of Ukrainian Canadians
Along with numerous volunteer roles in the Ukrainian community, Martin Stusiak is being recognized for the work of The League of Ukrainian Canadians and their financial contribution to the front. Organizing a week-long, city-wide bottle drive along with the League of Ukrainian Women in Canada and Ukrainian Youth Association, around $60,000 was divided between Friends of Ukraine Defence Forces Fund and Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.
Ruslana Yurystovska, Founder of Ukrainian Volunteers of Edmonton, Vice-President/co-founder Yeg4Ukraine non-profit Humanitarian Aid foundation
Ruslana Yurystovska, born and raised in Western Ukraine, moved to Edmonton in 2007 with her husband, and now has a family of two young boys. Since the current war began, Ukrainian Volunteers of Edmonton (YEG4Ukraine) has organized, purchased, collected, and delivered over 20,000 kg of humanitarian aid and essential medical help to hospitals and people on the front lines. Currently, they are helping with the purchase of ambulances with contacts in Europe.