Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada – Lesia Ukrainka Branch


The Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada (UWAC) serves to preserve, promote and develop all aspects of Ukrainian culture, heritage and traditions.

This local UWAC branch supports and participates in numerous activities that contributes to the growth of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia in Edmonton, Alberta and encourages its members to live by the Christian principles of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.

The Lesia Ukrainka Branch provides ongoing fellowship for all its members and in the spirit of cooperation, accomplishes much to sustain and support the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia along with numerous other Christian and community organizations, locally, nationally and internationally.

A strong element of the branch includes a focus on youth development by providing education programs such as Church (Sunday) school and Junior CYMK, the Ukrainian Orthodox Youth Association.

The branch originated in 1959 and has since flourished over the years. In the 1960’s the UWAC saw the development of both Junior and Senior CYMK groups, Ukrainian language classes, Sadochok and Ukrainian dancing at the parish of St. Elia. A cookbook was published by the branch in 1966 commemorating the 40th Anniversary of UWAC. The Lesia Ukrainka Branch grew from 63 members in the early 1960’s to 81 members in 1969.

The 40-th Anniversary of the Lesia Ukrainka Branch was celebrated in 1999 which acknowledged the contributions of all 185 women who had been members from 1959 to 1999.

Fundraising efforts are many and include sales of perohy, bake sales, an annual bazaar, rummage sales, fellowship luncheons, participation in Heritage Days in Edmonton, dinners, teas and bingos.

Aside from major donations to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia, donations are made regularly to numerous local, national and international organizations including Project Ukraine (c/o Grant MacEwan Community College Foundation), Bowl of Soup Project (c/o Ukrainian Social Services), UWAC museum, Promin Journal, Ukrainian Bilingual Schools and other local school programs, Camp Bar-V-Nok at Pigeon Lake, Alberta, CYMK, the Osvita program at St. John’s Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, the Edmonton Food Bank, Alberta Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke Foundation, Women’s Shelter, and other community organizations and charities.

The Lesia Ukrainka Branch, UWAC presently has 65 members. Meetings are held monthly on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm in the auditorium of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia, 11833–66 Street, Edmonton, Alberta. The branch welcomes new members and encourages all women associated with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to consider joining. Membership fee is $15.00.

For more information, contact any member of the Executive or the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia at (780) 477-2583.

Milestones Success and Achievements: The Lesia Ukrainka Branch – Edmonton, Alberta

Our Lesia Ukrainka Branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada (UWAC) was organized 46 years ago, in 1959, with 27 founding members. The branch remains active and, as of January 2004, we consist of 68 members. The branch continues to take on ambitious projects in support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia in Edmonton, Alberta.


The branch celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1999. The event commenced with a Moleben and a Panachyda service with His Eminence Archbishop John in attendance, and was followed by a program that consisted of unveiling of commemorative photographs, distribution of a commemorative booklet and a specially designed pin, the donation of an icon to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia, and tribute to all founding members. Recognition was also provided to long-term members: 3 members were honored for 50 years of membership, 11 members for 40 to 49 years of membership, 14 members for 25 to 39 years of membership and 5 members for 20 to 25 years of membership.

In 2001 the branch celebrated and commemorated the 75th anniversary of the national UWAC. The branch held a tea and program that honored past presidents, recognized long term members and awarded certificates to ten members including 5 past presidents, 4 members for 40 years of membership and 1 member for 25 years of membership. The branch prepared a 25-year history (from 1976 to 2001) for inclusion in the national anniversary book commemorating the 75th anniversary of UWAC.

Focus on Youth

In recent years, the branch has been instrumental in rejuvenating an increased focus on the education and development of our youth through Church (Sunday) School and the Ukrainian Orthodox Youth Association – CYMK. The UWAC branch acknowledges the effective leadership and strong commitment of Very Rev. Father George Podtepa and Dobr. Olga Podtepa in this regard. The Church School has three teachers that provide bilingual religious instruction every Sunday morning to students that range from pre-school age to high school age. The youth are active in many aspects of Church life and participate during Divine Liturgy on designated “youth Sundays”. The children have made a financial donation to the Church and purchased two lampadas for the Church.

There are 34 CYMKivtsi registered that meet weekly on Friday evenings and their program is a blend of cultural, educational and religious activities. Members of the UWAC branch assist the CYMKivtsi with special projects, handicrafts, a monthly pyrohe supper, other fund raising events and various other activities. The CYMKivtsi have made several special donations to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia, including financial donations, and 2 Repidy and 6 vestments for altar boys. Members of CYMK are visible as altar boys, faithfully serving at every Divine Liturgy. The CYMKivtsi perform in concerts throughout the year in the parish auditorium, including Mother’s Day, Taras Shevchenko and St. Nicholas concerts. The children traditionally welcome Archbishop John when he visits us annually, as per invitation. Each year, the CYMkivtsi enjoy a year-end picnic in Edmonton’s beautiful Rundle Heights Park, located along the bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Youth members are sent to conferences as delegates.

The branch also supports local youth by sponsoring children to attend two Ukrainian Orthodox summer camps (Camp Bar-V-Nok at Pigeon Lake, Camp Kiev’s-K- Hi at Moose Lake), youth who wish to participate in the Osvita program at St. John’s Institute in Edmonton, and with financial donations to Ukrainian bilingual school programs.

Enhancing and Promoting Our Community

The branch financially supports the Ukrainian Orthodoc Church of St. Elia with regular, substantial donations. The branch also consistently supports numerous local, national and international charitable organizations with financial donations. Some of the groups to whom donations have been made include: the Ukrainian Museum of Canada (National and Alberta branches), Promin, The Herald, Ukrainian Voice, Ukrainian Social Services, Food Bank, Youth Emergency Shelter, Women’s Shelter, Cancer Board, Heart & Stroke Foundation, hospitals, STARS Air Ambulance, schools and various inner city organizations. Recently, the branch donated one thousand dollars toward the purchase of special computer software for Thaddeus Podtepa, the grandson of Very Rev. Father George and Dobr. Olga Podtepa. Thaddeus Podtepa, who is seven years of age and visually impaired, will benefit greatly from the JAWS for Windows computer program that wili enable him to use a computer more effectively.

The branch supports our members by ensuring delegates attend and participate in local and regional UWAC events such as conferences and conventions. Most recently, delegates attended the 2003 UWAC conference in Calgary, Alberta and in the year 2002, two delegates attended the conference in Burnaby, B.C. A larger number of delegates attend the North-East Alberta UWAC Conference that is arranged by the Alberta Provincial UWAC executive which is always well attended by neighboring locals in Alberta.

Our Church choir would not be complete if it was not for several UWAC members who participate under the very capable direction of the choir director, Oksana Ostashevsky. The UWAC members also prepare and distribute a monthly Church newsletter ensuring current news and upcoming events are shared amongst parish members and visitors. The branch has a visible presence on the parish web site (web address is: and photographs of various events sponsored by the branch are posted on the web site.

The UWAC branch remains involved in supporting seniors who reside at the “Pysanka Manor”, a neighborhood residence for senior citizens located near the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia. Several branch members serve on the executive of “The Society of Ukrainian Senior Citizen’s Home of St. Elia”, which has been in existence since 1978. Occasionally, branch members host a pyrohe supper for the residents of Pysanka Manor and the branch makes financial donations intended to improve the quality of life for the seniors residing there.

For years, the branch has participated in the City of Edmonton’s Heritage Days by working at the site during the three-day event and by contributing gallons and gallons of borscht or dozens upon dozens of pyrohe for the visitors to the event to enjoy. During the City of Edmonton’s Klondike Days, held each summer, branch members have assisted Club Trident (another organization associated with our parish), with hosting a community pancake breakfast at the Church.


Many activities of the branch are oriented to raising funds to achieve the objectives of UWAC. The members have worked regularly at casinos and bingos, generating thousands of dollars, some of which will be directed to a fund intended for building St. Elia’s Cultural Centre, anticipated to commence construction in 2004/2005.

The branch has also raised significant funds through the ongoing sale of pyrohe. A group of devoted women regularly get together to make an immense volume of four types of delicious pyrohe, that are purchased by Church members. Donations of pyrohe are also made to the summer camps that the children attend and for other events.

The annual Easter bake sale is always a very popular event during which UWAC members and Church members donate baking and other items for the sale. The biggest task is the baking of hundreds of pasky and babky in the kitchen of the Church auditorium. The women also prepare and freeze horseradish beets each fall (with some fresh horseradish added in the spring, for a stronger taste) which is served during the Easter celebration at the blessed Easter dinner at the Church and aiso sold at the Easter bake sale.

A rummage sale is held once or twice each year in the Church basement. Church members and women of the branch donate many household items toward this sale. Many elderly members who move from their homes to other accommodation have generously donated numerous items that are sold at the rummage sale.

Service and Fellowship

The branch hosts a fellowship luncheon in the Church auditorium on the last Sunday of each month, following Divine Liturgy. The fellowship luncheons are organized by a convenor of the branch with a roster designating a branch member as captain, along with four women who help prepare and serve the lunch. The luncheons are always well attended and serve as an opportunity to welcome visitors. On occasion, at the fellowship luncheons, a program is included enabling updates to be provided by the parish priest and Church board members or sometimes a guest speaker is arranged. During some months, the luncheon is sponsored by members in celebration of specific functions such as anniversaries and memorials.

The branch has also responded to requests for dinners and luncheons to be prepared on special occasions for members and families, for memorial dinners or following prayer services and funerals. The women have prepared meals for our clergy meetings, Western Diocese meetings, the Alberta Benevolent Cantor’s Association, blessed Easter lunch, Jordan supper, after Pasia service and visitation by His Eminence Archbishop John. A second roster of captains and helpers has assisted in sharing the workload for such events throughout the year.

On October 19, 2003 a memorial service and luncheon was held in memory of Right Rev. Protopresbyter Ostap Flak and Dobr. Natalka Flak. We were deeply saddened when Dobr. Natalka passed away on August 10, 2002, and then Rev. Flak passed away October 19, 2002. They spent 28 years at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia until Rev. Flak retired in 1989. Dobr. Natalka Flak had been active in the branch the entire time, and she was recognized for 50 years of membership with UWAC at the 40th anniversary branch celebration in 1999.

The branch sisterhood engages in activities related to the beautification of the Church and adheres to the Church calendar when changing linens in the Church. Visits to individuals who are experiencing illness and to shut-ins, is an important part of the branch’s benevolent work.

Each year the branch holds an annual appreciation banquet during the month of June to acknowledge all the members for their work and contributions and for special guests to promote their interest in our association. The annual banquet is also used as an opportunity to recognize long-term members who have reached 25 years and 40 years or more of service with UWAC.

Another special event that is popular with Church members and the general community is the annual pre-Christmas bazaar and bake sale that the branch hosts in December of each year. A pyrohe supper is served (hosted by our CYMKivtsi this year) along with a bake sale, craft sale, raffle prizes and an evening of bingo. While the bazaar and bake sale is a successful fundraising event, the evening is special in that it provides an opportunity for fun and fellowship.

In June of 2003 our branch members visited the Alberta (Edmonton) branch of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, located at St. John’s Cultural Centre. The branch arranged a bus to transport the women from the Church to the museum where they were greeted and enjoyed a lunch hosted by the UWAC branch of St. John’s Cathedral. A guided tour of the museum was provided by the St. John’s Cathedral branch and was enjoyed immensely by everyone who attended.

On December 15, 2002 the branch hosted a baby shower for the daughter of Victor and Halyna Ruduke. Victor is the Cantor at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Elia. Baby Sophia Alexandra was a very welcome addition to the Orthodox family. Members of the parish and the UWAC branch enjoyed a luncheon, short program and presented a gift to the Ruduke family.

The regular monthly meetings of the branch, held on the first Tuesday of each month, primarily deals with the business of the branch, but there is also a strong fellowship component. The women acknowledge members who celebrate their birthday each month by sending birthday cards, singing Mnoha Lita at the meeting, followed by the birthday ladies serving coffee and snacks of goodies at the end of the meeting.

In 2001, the branch honored fourteen of our most mature members who reached the age of eighty years. In 2002 eight ladies were honored for their 80th birthday and in 2003, the same was done for two ladies. A gift of flowers and sharing of birthday cake acknowledged this special milestone.

Executive 2017

Betty Corlett
Phone: 780 462 9727

Past President:
Donna Sabadash
Phone: (780) 662 2055

1st Vice President:
Anne Doskoch
Phone: (780) 479-3301

2nd Vice President:
Mary Goshko
Phone: (780) 475-1698

Mary Holyk
Phone: (780) 479-5008

Recording Secretary:
Cheryl Petruk
Phone : (780) 457-9976

Casino Chairperson:
Betty Corlett
Phone:(780) 462-9727

Casino Treasurer:
Mary Ann Tymchuk
Phone: (780) 479-7972