June 18, 2001

Contributions of Ukrainian Canadians: a documentary

The UCPBF has launched a new initiative: the production of a television documentary dealing with the contributions of Ukrainians in Canada. The purpose of the television production is to tell a broad segment of society what Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry have done in the arts, science, politics, sports, broadcasting and many other fields

The celebration, in video, of more than a 100 years of hard work and impressive results by members of our community will be a lasting and meaningful effort. Marilyn Dolenko, UCPBF Secretary, started with a vision: "We need to reach young people, who might be "part" Ukrainian, or third or fourth generation Canadian. Many of these young people have not benefited from ties to the community and may suffer from a gap in their own cultural identity as a result. We want them to know and be proud of their heritage."

Ms. Dolenko is the Chair, UCPBF Documentary Working Group. The Advisory Members, connected with film and television or with a very good understanding of Ukrainians in Canada, comprise Roman Melynk from CTV; Slawko Klimkiw, Director of English Language Programming at CBC; Eugene Zaraska and Zenia Stechishin; Halya Kuchmij, a documentary filmmaker. To ensure continuity the Executive of the UCPBF Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, Peter Sorokan and Marilyn Dolenko are members of the Group as well. They will continue to serve in this capacity after the UCPBF Convention this October.

Several approaches to the documentary were considered: relating the contributions of Ukrainians to the different waves of immigration; moving along the chronological/historic timeline; focusing on sectors. Zenia Stechishin pointed out that much material had already been covered in other documentaries such as "The Scattering of Seeds" and that a new fresh approach was needed. " We want to bring forward the stories of both familiar and less familiar Ukrainians whose contributions to this country over the past 100 years have set remarkable and lasting standards for all Canadians", said Oksana Bashuk Hepburn, President of UCPBF.

Since 1999, Kristen Dolenko, the Project Coordinator, with experience in camera work and funding for television productions, has been working hard to give life to the documentary. her big success was in finding an outstanding producer-director for the project. John Zaritsky, a professional filmmaker with an extensive and accomplished career in the documentary genre will be the creator and producer of the documentary series.

Briefly, John Zaritsky lives in Vancouver and has been making documentaries since 1977. He has won more than 30 awards including an Academy Award for his 1982 documentary "Just Another Missing Kid", the story of a rich and powerful Ottawa family whose son disappeared on the way to summer school.

John Zaritsky has produced a 60 page outline for the documentary focussing on remarkable individuals who are the heart of Canada's story: all are Ukrainians. He says "Primarily, I am a storyteller; large, complex issues will be told in this documentary through dramatic personal stories." A more complete profile of Mr. Zaritsky will be available shortly.

The UCPBF wishes t o acknowledge initial donations to this important and much needed initiative to the Taras Schevchenko Foundation for a sum of $10,000; the Saskatchewan Cable Network for $10,000; the UCPBF for $5,000.

The documentary outline has been submitted to the main networks, CBC, Global, CT . The Canadian Race Relations Foundation has been approached for further funding.