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Ukrainian Canadian Congress restructuring ideas in British Columbia

Myroslav Petriw, President of Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Vancouver Branch

First of all I would like to thank all that took part or at least were present at the Leadership Reception which took place last June 22.

But in my opinion, this very reception of leaders and representatives of Ukrainian organizations and of the national executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, as well as the AGM itself, despite their apparent success, revealed again the very weak state of these structures in BC. Fortunately, during extensive discussions on this subject during the meetings, the solution to the structural faults and weaknesses of UCC-Vancouver Branch and UCC-British Columbia Provincial Council became quite apparent.

The very structure of these two organizations was built following principles and directions of some 70 years ago. Members of a Branch are only organizations (and each sends two delegates to meetings of the Branch); while members of the Provincial Council are the Branches (who send one voting delegate each to meetings of the Provincial Council).

One of the objectives of the UCC is to represent the Ukrainian community before the government etc. A painful fact is that by our own constitution the UCC Vancouver Branch at best represents the organized life of the Ukrainian community in British Columbia, leaving behind about 95% of our community that lives and acts outside the bounds of formal organizations. I emphasize the wordacts.  As revealed during the recognition award presentations during the above-mentioned reception, about half of the honoured individuals acted and continue to act either alone or otherwise outside the formal bounds of UCC Vancouver Branch.

As far as the Provincial Council is concerned, today it consists of two members, Vancouver and Vernon. Any conversation between the two presidents could be considered a formal meeting! What is worse, Vernon was not represented during the activities of June 22 because its leadership is too old to travel. There is no apparent succession to them, and there are serious conversations regarding the closure of the Branch. If Vernon Branch closes then the Provincial Council will be left with only one member and thus will be forced to close too.

For years there was talk about individual personal membership in the Branch. For some reason it was imagined that the national organization does not allow for such a structure. However during the meetings of June 22-23 it was made very clear that the national organization does not dictate the structure of its members, only their objectives. The objectives are:

– To act as an authoritative representative for the Ukrainian Canadian community before the people and Government

– To strengthen and co-ordinate the participation of Ukrainian Canadians in Canada’s social and cultural life based on Christian and democratic principles of justice, freedom and independence

– To assist Ukraine in building an independent, united, democratic state

– To plan and develop among Ukrainian Canadians, sound community life in all its aspects

–  To assist in the preservation and development of Ukrainian culture.

 A second objection to individual membership in UCC-Vancouver Branch was the question as to how to reconcile individual membership with the votes of the delegates of individual organizations.

The solution is as follows:

Create a new constitution of UCC-Vancouver Branch as an organization exclusively of individual personal members, simultaneously expanding the geography to include the entire Lower Mainland of BC and Vancouver Island.

Change the existing constitution of UCC British Columbia Provincial Council, adding in addition to the local Branches membership eligibility for all eligible (consistent with the objectives of the UCC)  Ukrainian organizations in the province

Please forward your comments to me and to existing members by

If interest is apparent, then I intend to call an initial meeting in the fall to bless this direction and to empower the executive to prepare the required constitutional changes and registrations.

PS. A draft REVISED Constitution of UCC-BC is ready, adding organizations as members of the UCC-BC Provincial Council. A special meeting of the current delegates of members of UCC-BC (exactly 2) can be held in a telephone booth in Merrit. 😉 On approval of the revisions at that special meeting, the changes can be submitted to the Registrar in Victoria, and we’ll begin looking for membership in the Provincial Council by ALL Ukrainian organizations in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

At the same time a NEW Constitution of UCC-VB will be prepared where everyone who feels Ukrainian enough to care, and meets the simple “Christian and democratic principles” clause, can join. (note, meeting Christian principles does NOT mean you have to be a practicing Christian). This way the UCC-Vancouver Branch will become an organization of INDIVIDUALS. (I invite Vernon Branch to follow suit, covering the entire BC interior.)

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