Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada

The Ottawa branch of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada (UWAC), or the Women's Association, has been a vital part of parish life from the very beginning. UWAC was founded in 1926 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and its main goal is to support and execute all manner of deeds and acts that contribute to the continual growth of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, and encourage members to practice and live by the Christian principles as enunciated by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

Origins

The UWAC branch affiliated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Ottawa was first organized in February 1952, about two years after the founding of the parish, and was originally known as the St. Sophia Branch. The first executive of this branch consisted of the following: Miroslava Dacour – President; Ivanna Petrivska – Vice President; Iryna Mushka – Secretary; I. Shandro – English Correspondence Secretary; Pearl Krokosh – Treasurer; Pauline Dorofi, Alice Kubishewsky and Tatiana Chala – Audit Comittee; and Pauline Dorofi – Hospitality Manager. After a number of years, the fledgling organization encountered some difficulties and a declining membership. At that time the sisterhood that was also active in the parish assumed the responsibilities and continued the work of the women's group for several years.

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Crucial Role in the Parish

Over time the roles, responsibilities and activities of the Women`s Association expanded. Through the years the members also took part in a variety of other church activities, including the church choir, the parish executives and various event committees. To this day, the Women's Association organizes, prepares and serves three major parish dinners every year – the Eve of the Feast of Jordan (January 18), Spilne Sviachene (the first Sunday after Ukrainian Easter), and Khramove Sviato (Parish Feast Day in early September).

The top priority of the Women's Association is to support the parish in any way that is required, including both financially and physically. From the very beginning, this has included fundraising for the actual construction of the hall and the Cathedral buildings. There have been various fundraising activities such as fashion shows and teas, bingos, and, of course, the always popular bazaars. The Women's Association organizes two bazaars every year, one during the pre-Easter season and a second before Christmas. In 1989, as a result of increased public relations efforts within the local Ottawa community, the bazaar attendance increased significantly. Since then, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church bazaar is eagerly awaited in the Ottawa community with people waiting in lines to enjoy the traditional Ukrainian cuisine and buy savoury and sweet baked goods prepared by the Women's Association with the help of parishioners. Several months of preparation are required for each bazaar, and as a result these bazaars are very successful, consistently attracting both the Ukrainian and local Ottawa communities as a whole.

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Support for Youth Activities

As in many other Canadian cities with a Ukrainian population, a Ukrainian school was established within the parish. In Ottawa, the parish's Saturday morning Ukrainian school was established in 1952. Over the years, members of the Women's Association took on the role of teachers for these classes. The traditional Ukrainian love of song and dance was transferred to the children through organized choirs and dancing groups, and talented individuals stepped in to provide musical accompaniment as the children performed at the annual concerts to celebrate St. Nicholas, Taras Shevchenko and Mother's Day. These schools were a fundamental cornerstone of the parish and the Ukrainian community. The parish's Ukrainian school no longer exists but all former teachers, students and families have fond memories of those special days.

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Participation in other Organizations and Activities

From the very beginning, the Women's Association was active outside the Church both with other Ukrainian activities and organizations such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), as well as with the mainstream community. In the early years, the branch worked with the Canadian Red Cross, the Citizenship Council and the Council of Women where the Ukrainian perspective was presented before other Canadian organizations.

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Members of the Lesia Ukrainka Branch Since 1960

 

Presidents of the Lesia Ukrainka Branch of the Ukrainian
Women's Association of Canada, Ottawa

Borshch Cook-Off 2017

On Sunday, February 12, the 5th Annual Borshch Cook-Off took place in our church hall. As in years past, this event was organized by the Project Committee, consisting of parish members Iryna Carman and Olena Stetskevych, to raise funds for a children’s orphanage in the city of Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine. For the first four years, the funds supported Orphanage #2 where many of the orphans were HIV positive, deaf, had mental health problems, developmental delays and other serious health conditions. Orphanages in Ukraine are severely underfunded and the funds raised by the Borshch Cook-Off allowed us to cover the costs of buying everyday essentials for the children. In addition, these funds were also used to provide living essentials (such as cooking utensils, plates, towels, blankets, etc.) to the children leaving the orphanage, at the age of 17, so that they can start their independent lives in hostels that do not receive adequate social assistance.

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