Ukrainian Canadians reaching out across the country during COVID-19

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By: Michelle Palansky, Communications advisor, Canadian Red Cross
Potentially reaching 1.4 million Ukrainian Canadians during COVID-19 is no mean feat. But, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is hoping to do just that, with funding received from the Canadian Red Cross, thanks to the Government of Canada.
Image of several participants in a video conference call or webinarDuring this time when people can feel isolated, the UCC is using the funding to further develop a series of weekly newsletters and twice-monthly webinars to help bring people together.
“The funding is allowing us to take best practices from across Canada and encourage people to think creatively about how to implement them locally; how to adapt to the online parameters,” said Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO & Executive Director, Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
The resources provide COVID-19 health information and precautions in Ukrainian, a crucial resource for newcomers. The webinars inform and inspire regional groups to find their own creative solutions for providing virtual support and celebration in their communities.
“We are giving people positive examples that it isn’t the end of community life. There are lots of surprising ways that we can adapt the things we like to do,” added Michalchyshyn. “We’re trying to touch on each sector of Canadian society represented in our community, to talk about the challenges and how people have overcome those challenges.”

In one weekly bulletin, UCC summer students produced a video explaining how to wear a mask in English, French, and Ukrainian.
Upcoming webinar topics include Ukrainian Arts Centres, Ukrainian Canadian Festivals, and Supporting Seniors and Long-term Care.
Along with health information, the UCC is also finding new ways to celebrate Ukrainian culture. A webinar in July, viewed by more than 1,000 people, featured the work that Ukrainian youth groups are doing across the country to give children fun and culturally meaningful summer activities, online.
“With the kids there is a real desire to stay connected to the groups and activities that make up our identity,” said Michalchyshyn.
Children in CYM Canada’s youth group, SUM, also took a two-week virtual tour of the Ukraine, combining natures studies, arts and crafts, and language.
Michalchyshyn is now planning for the future. “We are looking to the fall which will present some new challenges. We are trying to figure out what that will look like. Returning to a more intense routine and how everyone can stay safe.”
Learn more about the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
This program was supported thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada's Emergency Community Support Fund.

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