Exploring the Achievements of Ukrainian Diaspora

UWC President Eugene Czolij (left), Volodymyr Zaryckyj, Chair of the UWC International Scholarly Council (right) with participants of the 50th anniversary of the UWC. (Photo via Svoboda)

On September 16, a conference and commemorative banquet dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), the “UWC at 50 and Beyond: The North American Vector” took place at the Princeton University Club in New York.

Organized by a founding member group of the UWC, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), the one-day conference was one in a series of conferences devoted to the analysis of achievements of the UWC, and Ukrainian diaspora with the goal of charting a course for the future work of UWC. The conference was coordinated and moderated by Dr. Volodymyr Zaryckyj, Chair of the UWC International Scholarly Council.

Volodymyr Yelchenko, a Permanent Representative of Ukraine in the United Nations (UN), greeted all participants and highlighted the long-standing contribution of the UWC in support of Ukraine, and its efforts and interests within the UN.

President of the UWC, Eugene Czolij, delivered the inaugural address at the conference with the theme “The UWC at 50 – Its Highlights and Achievements.”

Four panel discussions were held throughout the day, each focusing on the various aspects of UWC activity.

The first panel discussion focused on the theme “Measuring UWC’s Efforts to Improve US-Ukraine and Canada-Ukraine Relations.” Its moderator was Roman Hadzewycz, Editor-in-Chief of the weekly publications Svoboda, and The Ukrainian Weekly. The panelists, President of the UCCA Andrew Futey, Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Paul Grod, and First United States Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Popadiuk emphasized in their presentations the strong points of the UWC organizations in North America with regard to encouraging both the governments of the U.S. and Canada, to aid and support the sovereignty and territorial rights of Ukraine and its people.

The second panel discussion, moderated by Tamara Olexy, Chair of the UWC International Council on UN Affairs, covered the topic “Underlining the Efforts of the World Congress of Ukraine in the United Nations.” The panelists, former Permanent Representatives of Ukraine to the UN Valeriy Kuchinsky and Yuri Sergeyev, President of the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations Orysia Sushko, and Interim Chair of the International Council Support of Ukraine, Borys Potapenko, focused on the past activity of the UWC and shared their views on its further role in strengthening Ukraine’s position, and stressed the importance of greater involvement of Ukrainian non-governmental organizations in activities that are based within the statutes of the UN.

The third panel discussion, moderated by Viktor Hetmanczuk, director of the UWC Humanitarian Initiatives, invited the participants to discuss the enormous amount of work that has been done to support the social needs of the Ukrainian population, and to consider the activities of the diaspora in support of human rights of Ukrainians throughout the world. The panelists, President of the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee Larissa Kyj, Acting Director of the Humanitarian Initiative of UWC Patriot Defense Marco Suprun, and former Senior Policy Advisor to the Helsinki Commission in the US Congress, Orest Deychakiwsky, spoke on the topic “Analyzing the UWC’s Efforts in the Areas of Humanitarian and Social Services, as well as Human Rights.”

The fourth panel discussion entitled “Analyzing the UWC’s Efforts in the Cultural, Informational, and Educational Spheres,” moderated by Irina Mycak, Chair of UWC International Media and Public Relations Committee, concluded the series of discussions.

Focusing on specific areas of activity among the communities of the Ukrainian diaspora, panelists including former President of the Ukrainian Museum in New York Renata Holod, Deputy Director of the Ukrainian Scientific Institute of Harvard University Lubomyr Hajda, and UCCA Director for Communication and Mass Media Andrij Dobriansky, highlighted the achievements of the North American Ukrainian communities, who primarily shares Ukrainian identity with every nation across the globe.

The guest of the conference was the Ukrainian Ambassador to the USA Valeriy Chaly, who spoke during a business lunch about “Why a Stable, Independent, and Prosperous Ukraine, is Valuable to the U.S.” The Ambassador reminded guests of the current role of Ukraine, which not only defends its territorial borders and integrity from the aggression of the Russian Federation, but also protects the security and stability of Europe and the world. The session was led by a United States Court of Federal Claims judge, Bohdan Futey.

The closing remarks were made by former President of the UWC from 1998 to 2008, Askold Lozynskyi. Addressing the topic “The World Congress of Ukrainians: Looking to the Future – What to Expect in the Next 50 Years,” Lozynsky stressed that the UWC, regardless of the development of political events of both the past, and the future, was, is and must always remain the conscience of the Ukrainian people.

The conference concluded with a banquet at which two speakers gave presentations. Kateryna Yushchenko, former First Lady of Ukraine, presented the role of the diaspora in helping the Ukrainian people strengthen their sovereignty and democracy in Ukraine. The second speaker was Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine. He told the guests about the great sacrifices made by Ukrainian men and women at the front line of the hybrid war with the Russian Federation, and the strain and uncertainty their families faced, stressing the need to intensify efforts to end this war. Noting the contribution of the Ukrainian diaspora in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine awarded certificates to the following people: E. Czolij, S. Romaniw, P. Grod, A. Futey, V. Zaryckyj, and B. Potapenko.

Ambassador V. Chaly, E. Czolij, A. Futey, P. Grod and A. Lozynskyj each made a welcoming speech at the banquet. The banquet was hosted by Executive Vice-President of the UCCA, Michael Sawkiw.

The Federal Credit Cooperative, SUMA Yonkers, and Self-reliance Ukrainian American Federal Credit Union in Chicago, both made generous donations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC.

The conference and banquet were organized by the Coordinating Committee with the participation of the Executive Coordinator T. Olexy, the Administrative Coordinators A. Dobriansky, Mykola Hryckowian and Lesia Orach, and Program Coordinator, Dr. W. Zaryckyj.

“The Ukrainian World Congress expresses its gratitude to the Ukrainian Congressional Committee of America and the Coordinating Committee for the successful event on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UWC in the city where the UWC was founded, as well as to the entire Ukrainian American community for its strong support and commitment to the interests of the Ukrainian people around the world,” said UWC President E. Czolij.

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