Ukrainian Canadian community honours Roman Waschuk and Oksana Smerechuk

February 11, 2020. TORONTO, ON. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) honoured Roman Waschuk, former Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine and his spouse Oksana Smerechuk for their contributions to public service and Canada-Ukraine relations at a special Tribute Gala in Toronto on February 1.

Due to the generosity of our sponsors and supporters, $100,000 was raised to support the Roman Waschuk and Oksana Smerechuk Fund, within the UCC Charitable & Educational Trust, which funds the UCC Parliamentary Internship Program, as well as the UCC Community Development Fund, which supports important community programming initiatives.

“Ambassador Waschuk and Ms. Smerechuk have dedicated their lives to public service. They are an example for future generations of Ukrainian Canadian youth to emulate, and the UCC Internship Program will provide our youth with opportunities to start their careers,” stated Alexandra Chyczij, National President of the UCC. “On behalf of our community, I thank Roman and Oksana for kindly agreeing to support the UCC’s programming. Thank you to all the honoured guests, generous sponsors and donors, and everyone attending for making this memorable evening a wonderful success!”

To view a report from Kontakt TV from the Gala, please click on the image below:

The evening’s program featured greetings from Canada’s Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, an address by the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, a superb performance of the Huron Christmas Carol Iesus Ahattonnia by the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Choir, and moving and poignant tributes by close friends Velida Kent and Christopher Shapardanov. Karim Morcos and Sofiya Yusypovych were skillful Masters of Ceremonies for the evening.  But the highlight of the evening was Roman and Oksana’s response to the accolades they received.

Velida Kent (third from left) and Christopher Shapardanov (second from right with Roman Waschuk and Oksana Smerechuk

Roman Waschuk was presented the UCC Taras Shevchenko Medal, for his outstanding contribution to public service. The Shevchenko Medal is the highest form of recognition granted by the UCC.

The Ukrainian Canadian community also paid tribute to Canadian police officers Canadian police officers who have been providing training to Ukraine’s police forces as part of Canada’s support for security and democratic development in Ukraine and Canadian Armed Forces personnel on Operation UNIFIER – Canada’s training mission in Ukraine.

Other tributes and appreciations from the Gala can be viewed on the UCC YouTube channel

As Canada’s longest-serving Ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Waschuk worked to bring Canada-Ukraine relations to a new level at a time of increased interest in Ukraine. With his depth of knowledge of Ukraine, he was a leader amongst Ambassadors in Kyiv and fully developed the Canadian presence in Ukraine. Ambassador Waschuk practiced diplomacy with integrity, openness, sincerity, accessibility and optimism.  He was able to articulate the need for a strong Canada Ukraine relationship both with government officials, in the media and the general public.

Successful public service and effective diplomacy always being the result of teamwork, the UCC also honoured Oksana Smerechuk, Ambassador Waschuk’s spouse, who was President of the Ambassadors’ Spouses Club of Kyiv. Together their commitment to community and public service and boundless energy provided Canada with a powerful voice in Kyiv.

UCC presented Mr. Waschuk and Ms. Smerechuk with an icon of St. Yurij the Dragonslayer, written on an ammunition box salvaged from the Donbas, where Russia continues to wage a war of aggression against Ukraine. “Buy an Icon – Save a Life” is an art project of Kyivan artists Sofia Atlantova and Oleksandr Klymenko, supports the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital.

A special thank you to the Tribute Gala Organizing Committee, chaired by Olya Grod, for their hard work and dedication.

To view photos from the Gala, please click here and here

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