Conclusions of the 55th
National SUSK Congress in Edmonton, Alberta
The Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) is pleased to report on the successful completion of the 55th National SUSK Congress held in Edmonton, Alberta from May 9th to 12th 2013. “Over fifty delegates from post-secondary institutions from all across Canada descended on Edmonton, Alberta to take part in professional seminars, leadership development, and SUSK statutory events,” said Immediate Past President Danylo Korbabicz. “SUSK has experienced exponential growth since its rebirth and re-organization in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2007. During my five years on the SUSK National Executive, I have been privileged to see attendance at our conferences double and triple. This renewed interest bodes well for the future of the Ukrainian community in Canada and I am heartened to see our youth take a more active role in community life,” continued Korbabicz.
The four day conference and congress was hosted by SUSK affiliate, the Ukrainian Students’ Society at the University of Alberta. Beyond delegates, the Congress hosted several observers and local community groups. Professional seminars dealt with the following topics:
1. Holodomor, Orwell and the Refugees: The Untold Story of Animal Farm (Andrea Chalupa)
2. Contemporary Politics in Ukraine (Marta Farion)
3. What can the Ukrainian Canadian Congress & the Shevchenko Foundation do for you? (Daria Luciw & Andriy Hladyshevsky)
4. Business and the Ukrainian Connection (Canada Ukraine Chamber of Commerce: Slavka Shulakevych, Vitaliy Milentyev, Myron Pyzyk, Michael Sulyma, and Illarion Shulakevych)
5. How can the Ukrainian Community Grow? (Dr. Andriy Nahachewsky)
6. Financial Planning (Servus Credit Union: Theresa Comeau)
7. Strategic Planning (Boris Radyo)
In addition to seminars, participants were treated to several social and team-building activities including: a professional dance workshop hosted by St. John’s Institute in Edmonton, a perogy-eating contest, a race and competition involving Ukrainian landmarks in Edmonton, and a history lecture about Ukrainians in Alberta hosted by the Honourable Gene Zwozdesky MLA for Edmonton-Mill Creek and Speaker of the Alberta Legislative Assembly.
A unique element of this year’s conference and congress was the introduction of a “Case Competition.” The Case Competition required participants to form teams and then develop ideas and solutions for problems facing the Ukrainian Canadian community. This year’s topic was declining Ukrainian Bilingual Education in Canada. As is well known, declining enrolment and retention of pupils in such programs, both at the K-12 and university course levels, threatens Ukrainian Canadian community life. After finalizing their proposals, Students were judged by professors from the Kule Folklore Centre and Ukrainian Centre for Language Studies at the University of Alberta, as well as teachers and administrators from the Public and Catholic Edmonton School Board Ukrainian Bilingual programs. The team that came up with the best proposals was awarded $1000.00 courtesy of St. John’s Institute (Edmonton, Alberta).
Participants were truly impressed with the size, scope, and professionalism of the conference and congress. “I could not have asked for a better introduction to SUSK. Not only was I given the opportunity to connect with many Ukrainian-Canadian youth from across the country, I was also able to re-connect with my Ukrainian heritage in a new way. Incorporating speakers whose unique experiences with Ukraine and Canada could relate to more than one niche with the audience allowed for diverse and engaging discussions amongst delegates. The case competition was another highlight, allowing students to brainstorm ideas meant to preserve aspects of Ukrainian culture in Canada. I think that having community members listening to these fresh ideas, it better connects students (and SUSK) with the community of Edmonton. I hope that this competition will continue to be incorporated into future SUSK congresses,” said first-time SUSK delegate Marusia Douglas from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
The Annual SUSK Banquet and Zabava was held at the Matrix Hotel and Banquet Hall in downtown Edmonton. Guests and SUSK alumni enjoyed a gourmet meal, a performance by world-renowned Shumka dance troupe, a live-painting session by Ukrainian Canadian artist Iryna Karpenko, and a keynote address by Ms. Marta Farion, President of the Kyiv-Mohyla Foundation of America. Ms. Farion is a former Chicago attorney and a member of the Executive Committee of the City of Chicago Mayor’s Office of International Relations. After the announcement of SUSK Executive election results, guests were treated to the Zabava melodies of local Edmonton band, Euphoria.
Incoming President Christine Czoli from the University of Waterloo, who had previously served as Executive Vice President for the 2012-2013 term, looks forward to the continued growth of SUSK and helping shape the future direction of the large and important Ukrainian Community in Canada: “As students, we are uniquely positioned to confront issues in our community and in Ukraine: by carefully examining these challenges, evaluating potential alternatives, and using our creativity and spirit to develop and implement solutions. These skills and tools are what we will use to establish our positions, inform our actions, and ultimately, define the impact we have in the Ukrainian Canadian community and abroad,” said Czoli.
I’d like to thank the outgoing Executive, and in particular outgoing President Danylo Korbabicz, for their dedication and contribution to SUSK. I am very honoured to lead SUSK and look forward to working together with Ukrainian students across Canada for the betterment of our community,” concluded Czoli.
SUSK is a national student organization comprised of Ukrainian Student Organizations at post-secondary institutions across Canada. It was formed in 1953 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Though it fell inactive in 2001, SUSK was revived at the XXII Congress of Ukrainian Canadians held in Winnipeg, October 2007. SUSK’s mandate is to advocate concerns relevant to Ukrainian Canadian students. SUSK serves as a national forum in which these concerns are discuss and acted upon. It is the coordinating body for Ukrainian students’ organizations throughout Canada.
For more information and commentary in English or Ukrainian, media may contact: Christine Czoli Incoming President, (416) 453-4865 email@example.com or Danylo Korbabicz, Outgoing President, (613) 799-3391, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 - SUSK delegates pose with Speaker Gene Zwozdesky in front of the Ukrainian Immigrant Monument at the Alberta Legislature
2 - The incoming 2013/2014 National SUSK Executive with President Christine Czoli holding bulava
3 - Outgoing President Danylo Korbabicz presents the Hon. Gene Zwozdesky with a token of appreciation, a painting by Ukrainian Canadian Artist Iryna Karpenko
- Photos by Cassian Soltykevych