A Message from the President and CEO of CUF

Dear Friends and Supporters of the Canada Ukraine Foundation,

As we approach the holiday season, it is my pleasure to give a brief update from the Canada Ukraine Foundation. It is my hope this update will remind you of the important role CUF plays in the Ukrainian Canadian community and overall supporting much needed projects and programs in Ukraine, give you a glimpse into how CUF is evolving, and motivate you to consider supporting CUF’s continued work by making a donation today.

New faces on the CUF Board and Leadership Team

A year ago, CUF’s board evolved and brought in several new faces, and I am delighted have assumed the role of President partway through this year, at the AGM in June.

I have had the pleasure to work with many of you in the past. Some of our paths may have crossed as far back as my time with the Ukrainian Students’ Club at U of T more than 20 years ago now, or in various performing and leadership roles at the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America for over 3 decades. More recently, perhaps we collaborated during my time leading the committee in support of Ukrainian Schools at UCC Toronto and helping coordinate this key stakeholder group for UCC National over the past 5 years. I have also had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors of the Shevchenko Foundation over the past 5 years, contributing to the governance and nominating committee’s accomplishments, as well as supporting important projects including: MITACS, The Tryzub Awards, and the REACH program.

I am excited about my new role with the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) and am honoured to help lead the organization over the next several years as President. One of my early tasks in this role is to lead the creation of a new strategic plan to ensure CUF programs and projects are relevant in today’s world, aligned to the needs of their recipients, and properly and appropriately coordinated as we play a lead role in the overall diaspora efforts in helping Ukraine.

As I assume this role, it is my hope to bring my experiences from my professional career and my community involvement to build on the foundation of excellence that exists in the foundation. Although there are new faces joining the board and assuming some of the leadership roles, we are blessed to have the support of not one, but three(!) former presidents of CUF on the board… a laudable example of dedication and care, as well as respect for the importance of institutional memory and succession planning. We are grateful to those who have come before us and those continue to be involved for helping make CUF what it is today. What this means it the executive will be steering the ship with the help of a strong and diverse board. I will also endeavour to support and enable the programming committees as they build, launch, and execute the identified priority programs to the best of my ability. Today’s CUF leadership is merely helping hand the Foundation over from those who made it what it is today, to the generations who follow us and will make it even better than our wildest dreams.

The Pandemic

As you know, in March, everything ground to a halt. The board called a snap meeting and decided to postpone all CUF-related travel until at least labour day. That was subsequently extended to end 2020 and beyond.

We need to recognize that many among us experienced a significant increase in workload in both professional and home schedules despite being home-bound through much of the ongoing pandemic. However, we have found a way to get it done… in many instances in with the support of our partners, parents, children, and grandchildren. And it is those youngest members of our community who have had to be the most resilient through this, those who unfortunately will be paying for this the longest, and at the end of the day, the reason we do what we do here at the Foundation. This is not “our foundation”. We are merely biding our time here as caretakers of this foundation for the future generations who will make it greater than any of us would have ever imagined.

Times of crises bring out the best in people and the worst in people. At times of crises we see some leaders shine while others crumble or fade into obscurity. We see evil thrive while good must galvanize to resist it. The need for the good work accomplished by our projects is greater than ever, and the external environment in which we must operate is more complex than ever. Although slowing and delaying some CUF programs and projects, the pandemic did present opportunities for launching and partnering on new projects which emerged from needs stemming from the pandemic. These projects are highlighted in other stories/posts you can find here: and on our social media channels.

CUF Evolution

The pandemic also offered an opportunity to evolve CUF, do some housekeeping, and take advantage of being homebound. We focused on refreshing the strategic plan and I’d like to commend the board for their commitment over an extensive process, four planning sessions, three working sessions, 8 guest speakers and over 400 total man-hours spent between early July and October. A summary of the outputs of this process, CUF’s strategic direction over the next 3-5 years, will be included in a separate post/story. In short, internally we will focus on capacity building and the requisite fundraising, improving communications and board engagement & succession planning. We have also identified external opportunities to expand collaboration, streamline the project funding process and leverage technological support across all our projects and programs. Finally, we have also started work on evolving our technological capabilities, our communications with stakeholders, and our financial systems and processes, so in short, lots of work underway… stay tuned!

As a part of our evolution, it is our intention to have more regular communications with our ever-growing pool of stakeholders. As such, you will see a CUF newsletter coming several times a year, with regular social media posts profiling key projects and programs, partner organizations and board members, as well as key events, commemorations, anniversaries, and milestones.

We thank you for your support over 25 years and look forward to your continued support over the next 25. Please visit to make a donation today.

On behalf of the leadership team of the Canada Ukraine Foundation, please accept our most sincere wishes for a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season, and a blessed, prosperous, and joyous 2021.

Христос Рождається!

Merry Christmas!

Orest Sklierenko