The Ukrainian Canadian Youth Leadership Award of Excellence gives recognition to young adult Ukrainian Canadians for outstanding leadership which significantly contributed to the broader Ukrainian community and the betterment of Canada.
Please read below to learn more about our 2019 Award Winners.
Devon Sereda Goldie
Devon Sereda Goldie is a proud Ukrainian Canadian who wears many hats in the Ukrainian Canadian community! She grew up in an active Ukrainian family in Edmonton, Alberta and would like to thank her Tato, the late David Sereda, and
her Baba, Joan Sereda, for instilling in her a passion for Ukrainian culture. In her academic life, Devon is an MA Candidate in Applied Theatre and Slavic Studies at the University of Victoria. Her research is entitled “Пам’ять/Pam’yat (Memory): Theatre as a Vehicle for Healing Intergenerational Trauma within the Ukrainian Canadian Experience”. Over the past four years, she has been developing a play about Ukrainian Canadian immigration and oppression, which has been staged twice and will be remounted as part of her thesis project. Her intention is to encourage intergenerational conversation and healing within the Ukrainian Canadian community. This January, she will be touring the play in British Columbia and hopes to tour the show to Ukrainian communities across Canada in the future.
This September, Devon was invited to present her research at the Second International Conference on Canadian Studies “Canada-Ukraine: Past, Present, Future” in Chernivtsi, Ukraine. In addition, she spent her summer semester in Ukraine conducting research and participating in the Summer Institute at the National University of Kyiv Myhola Academy.
Devon is the President and Co-Founder of the UVic Ukrainian Students’ Society, a new organization that has grown to 35 members and has held over 25 events in its first year and a half of operation. On the local level, she currently serves as a Board Member for both the Ukrainian Canadian Cultural Society of Vancouver Island and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Victoria Branch. On the national level, she serves as the Vice President National for SUSK (the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union), having served as Vice President West last year.
Paul Kodak was born in Saskatoon on May 8, 1989 to Sonia (Kaminsky) and Ihor Kodak. He is one of four children who was raised in a vibrant Ukrainian Orthodox family, participating in church, community, and family cultural activities from his earliest days. His parents’ backgrounds inspired him to enthusiastically embrace his faith and culture. Ihor, a gifted musician, performed in the popular Ukrainian band “Mria” for many years, and Sonia, a talented singer and dancer, performed and became and instructor, inspiring countless students to pursue Ukrainian dance.
Paul attended the Ukrainian Bilingual program in St. Maria Goretti and Holy Family Elementary Schools. He graduated and received an honours diploma from Bishop James Mahony High School in 2007 and achieved excellent academic standing with honours in the Study of Heritage Language at St. Petro Mohyla Institute. Paul started Ukrainian dance at the age of four, dancing with Sonia’s School of Ukrainian Dance and Vesnianka Academy of Ukrainian Dance from 1994 – 2007. He attended summer dance camps and workshops, competed in countless festivals, and won many awards and scholarships. From 2007-2004, Paul danced with Yevshan Ukrainian Folk Ballet Ensemble, performing in North America and touring Ukraine in 2009. In 2010, he began instructing in Boyan Ukrainian Dance Association. He helped start “Boyan on Tour”, an extension of Boyan’s senior dancers, directing performances “Fantazia” (2013) and “Podorozh” (2015) that included tours to eastern USA and Costa Rica, and a welcome home show “Korinnya” (2018) after a tour to central and western Ukraine. A special thank you to these artistic directors; Vitali Sorokotiaguine, Zhenia Bahri, and Serhij Koroliuk, who have left such a deep impact on him wanting to become a Ukrainian dance instructor. He performed with the Lastiwka Ukrainian Orthodox Youth Choir, attended Green Grove Ukrainian Orthodox Youth Camp, transitioning from participant to counsellor and then camp director in 2008. He has held positions on the National CYMK executive, been Youth Ambassador for the Ukrainian Karpaty Pavillion at Folkfest, and since 2005 has sung and played in the Ukrainian dance band, “Half Na Piv”.
Paul enjoys spending time with friends and family, and being a part of his community, volunteering in numerous Ukrainian social and cultural events. Paul is incredibly determined and a motivation to young and old. He has overcome life-changing health issues with perseverance and great strength of character and continues to participate in and encourage young people to embrace and celebrate our Ukrainian culture and heritage.
Sonia Kulycky has been an active member of the Montreal Ukrainian community since childhood. She is a member of the Troyanda Dance Ensemble and the “Rossa” Vocal trio, performing across North America and featured in the Canadian documentary “SPIVANKA”. Their 2015 CD release features interpretations of Ukrainian songs in unique harmony.
Sonia is an active member of CYM, presently on the organizing committee of the Canada-wide youth “Zlet”, previously a counsellor at weekly meetings and summer leadership camps in Montreal and Toronto as well as a member of the CYM-Plast Malanka organizing committee.
Sonia graduated from the Sheptycky Ukrainian School in 2013 at the top of her class earning her the bursary award and remained as an assistant, and later “sadochok” teacher. She also won two Montreal Ukrainian Canadian Congress essay awards (2015, 2017).
Sonia had the honour of representing the federal riding of NDG – Westmount at this year’s Daughters of the Vote conference on Parliament Hill, also receiving the Rosemary Speirs Leadership Grant to advance her initiative to implement the use of biodegradable medical examination gloves in hospitals. She was a regional reviewer for Canada’s Volunteer Awards, as well as an orientation volunteer in both the Intensive Care Unit and the Hospital Elder Life Program at the Jewish General Hospital. She currently volunteers at the Montreal SPCA.
An accomplished figure skater, Sonia is a certified coach, sharing her love for the sport with the youth she teachers. Sonia is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at McGill University and plans to further her studies in healthcare. Her high academic achievements and community involvement were reflected when she won the Quebec Lieutenant Governor General Medal (the Hon. Pierre Duchesne) in 2014. She looks forward to continuing to pursue her passions while proudly representing her Ukrainian heritage.
Lianna Makuch is a second generation Ukrainian Canadian theatre artist. She is a graduate of the BFA Acting Program at the University of Alberta and is a co-Artistic Producer with Pyretic Productions. Lianna is the playwright and principal performer of Blood of Our Soil, a new Ukrainian Canadian play inspired by the experiences of the Lianna’s grandparents who fled Ukraine during WWII, and true stories from the country’s current conflict. To develop the play, Lianna and Pyretic Productions’ key creatives travelled to Ukraine in October 2017 on a self-funded research trip. There they interviewed close to 50 people living in the heart of the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine.
Blood of Our Soil premiered in Edmonton (2018) and Toronto (2019) to sold-out audiences and critical acclaim, and will soon be embarking on a national tour. The production has been recognized with several artistic and community awards including the ACUA-URDC Award (2018) and a Hetman Award from UCC-Alberta Provincial Council (2019). Lianna was recognized as a Top 30 Under 30 Artist by the Alberta Council for Ukrainian Arts, and the play was nominated for four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards including Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Production.
Lianna is also a founding member of Canadians in Support of Ukrainian Political Prisoners (CSUPP), and was an integral part of creating and circulating a petition calling upon the House of Commons to demand the release of Ukrainian political prisoners. The petition was tabled in parliament by Linda Duncan on 9 November 2018 and received a supportive response from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, on the 31 January 2019. Lianna was also a key leader in fundraising for the Ukraine-based NGO “Our Children,” a group which fundraises for families of political prisoners in Crimea.
Nicole was born and raised in Saskatoon and has always been passionate about celebrating her Ukrainian culture, volunteering, and being a community leader!
She graduated at the top of her high school class in 2014 and was awarded the prestigious University of Saskatchewan’s President’s First & Best Scholarship. In 2017, the Shevchenko Foundation recognized Nicole for her community leadership and volunteerism with the David A. Mysak Future Leaders Award.
At age 4, Nicole began Ukrainian dancing at Boyan Ukrainian Dance Association. She was part of the inaugural Boyan on Tour team in 2012, where she had the opportunity to travel and share her passion and talents with international audiences. During this time, she also founded an assistant dance instructor program, and began instructing herself – she went on to teach in Saskatoon and Rosthern. In 2013 she fulfilled her childhood dream and became a Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble (PFE) performing cast member. Since then, Nicole considers PFE her second family, and has performed with the company around the world!
Beyond dancing, Nicole is an active community volunteer and leader. She has passionately served as PFE’s Fundraising Coordinator and is a member of Saskatoon’s Ukrainian Canadian Business Professional Association. Similarly, for over six years she volunteered as a mentor and tutor with the Saskatoon Open Door Society’s Youth Study Group program. Currently, she serves on the SaskCulture and Creative Kids Canada, Saskatchewan Branch boards of directors as Multiculturalism director, and was also recently elected Vice-President.
Nicole holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and Advanced Global Business certificate from the University of Saskatchewan. She is currently pursuing her MBA and works as a social entrepreneur, where she advocates for and uses business as a force for good in the world. Nicole looks forward to being involved in the Ukrainian Canadian community for years to come!
Darya was born and raised in Ukraine and moved to Canada 8 years ago to study Neuroscience at McGill University. She has played an active role in the Ukrainian Canadian community ever since.
Darya has been an executive member of the McGill Ukrainian Students’ Association for 6 years. As president, she organized demonstrations, conferences, and awareness campaigns during the 2013-2014 Revolution of Dignity, and has given numerous TV and radio interviews. As Vice-President of Culture, she created Ukrainian Language Awareness week on campus, organizing language learning sessions, movie screenings, and a poetry reading night.
Darya has also served on the Executive Board of SUSK (Ukrainian Canadian Student Union) and has led the organization of the 2015 SUSK Congress in Montreal.
In 2015 and 2016 Darya worked as a biology teacher at a Saturday Ukrainian school in Montreal, where she designed and delivered a biology curriculum in Ukrainian for high school students.
Over the past two years, Darya has served as secretary for the Montreal Branch of the Ukrainian National Federation. She enjoys making a difference in her community through support of local initiatives.
Darya is now in her second year of medical school at McGill University. She is combining her dedication to Ukraine with her passion for medicine by participating in a global health project in Ukraine. She is working with physicians in Kyiv to set up a trauma registry, which analyse the causes and outcomes of trauma at Ukrainian hospitals. The goal of the project is to design prevention methods and improve trauma interventions at the local level.
Stephania is currently a J.D. Law student at the University of Ottawa. She is a graduate of MacEwan University, located in her hometown of Edmonton, where she majored in Political Science. During her undergraduate studies, Stephania was involved in a variety of campus clubs and initiatives. She has been an active member of the Ukrainian community both locally and nationally. Most recently, she completed two terms as President of the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK). To highlight some initiatives, Stephania worked to build networks with students in Ukraine and other ethnocultural communities in Canada. She also worked to professionalize SUSK’s structure. Stephania led successful student congresses, focused on vital issues like the WWI Internment Operations, Holodomor, and recent conflict in Ukraine.
Stephania also carries her passion of community involvement outside of the Ukrainian community. In 2017, she was elected as President of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University. In this role, she advocated for student needs to the university administration, as well as both the provincial and federal government. She also worked on a student-led building project and campus initiatives like mental health campaigns. She has also donated her time volunteering at soup kitchens and other community projects.
Stephania also had the opportunity to work at the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, first as a page and later as an assistant in the Speaker’s Officer for both Gene Zwozdesky and Robert Wanner. She has also been an academic research assistant at both MacEwan University and the University of Ottawa. Additionally, she has also worked at the Department of Justice Canada. Currently, Stephania sits on the Board of Directors for SUSK in an advisory capacity.
In 2014, Volodymyr Palagniuk moved to Canada from Chernivtsi, Ukraine. In Ukraine, Volodymyr completed his master’s degree in Political Science from Chernivtsi National University, started the PhD program, and founded and managed the Promotion Foundation of Initiatives. Volodymyr was one of the leaders of the student movement, was elected as Student President of Ukraine in 2012, and was an advisor to the Chair of State Administration in Chernivtsi Region. Volodymyr worked in his family business, in not-for-profit organizations, and with political parties. In November 2013, he was one of the initiators and became a co-coordinator of Chernivtsi Euromaidan.
In Canada, he has volunteered and participated in various projects organized by prominent organizations. In 2015, Volodymyr co-founded and became a coordinator of Vyshyvanka Day in Toronto. In 2016, the organizing committee registered the Vyshyvanka Association (Toronto Vyshyvanka Day) as a not-for-profit corporation, and it became a member of Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Toronto Branch. Every year, the organization hosts a Vyshyvanka Day Parade and Festival. In 2017, Volodymyr started the ‘Born in Vyshyvanka’ Program (Vyshyvanka Association with support of Meest Corporation Inc. presents an embroidered shirt to every newborn Ukrainian in Canada), as well as ‘Vyshyvanka Channel’ Online Media that covers the most important events and news in Ukrainian community in Toronto, “Heritage of the Nation” Educational Program, and other smaller projects.
Between April 2018 and March 2019, Volodymyr was one of the Board Directors at Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Toronto Branch. In 2016-2018, he worked as a Marketing Manager at Meest Corporation Inc. in Toronto. In September 2018, Volodymyr moved to Ottawa to take part in the UCC Parliamentary Internship Program. In November 2018, Jim Eglinski, MP for Yellowhead (Alberta), hired him as a Parliamentary Assistant.
In September 2019, Volodymyr was actively involved in the re-election campaign of Larry Maguire, MP for Brandon-Souris.
Natalya Savaryn is currently finishing her degree in Criminal Justice and Public Policy at the University of Guelph. During her time as a university student she was an active member with the Ukrainian club where she held executive positions such as treasurer and president. She has also been involved with the university’s Habitat for Humanity chapter where she spent her reading weeks volunteering in the States building homes and planning a trip as well.
Natalya is currently a program director for the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) – Mississauga branch. She enjoys working with youth and being involved in the Ukrainian community. She is also a member on committees for her branch such as the national UYA Youth Jamboree (Zlet) and their bike-a-thon committee that raises money for their campgrounds at Veselka. She has had the opportunity as well to participate in CYM camps in Ontario, Quebec, the US, and Ukraine.
CYM is an important part of her life and is grateful for the opportunities and life-long friends she has met through this organization. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, traveling, spending time with loved ones, volunteering and honouring her Ukrainian heritage.
Larysa is currently attending McMaster University, where she is currently working on finishing her Honours degree in Life Sciences. Her passion for human health has led her to research paediatric medicine with Sick Kids’ research group – TARGet Kids! Larysa is also very active in both the Ukrainian and campus communities. On campus, she is part of several club executive committees, including SURGE. Her love for her Ukrainian culture has led to her becoming Vice President of the McMaster Ukrainian Students’ Association. Outside of school, she is involved in multiple Ukrainian organizations. Most distinctively, she is the program co-ordinator of the Mississauga Branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM), where she organizes weekly meetings for children aged 6-17 under the slogan “God and Ukraine,” yearly leadership seminars, and cultural concerts for the kids. Larysa loves seeing the Ukrainian culture flourish and created the first CYM National Youth Jamboree in Canada (Zlet Canada) in 2017, which continues being a popular annual event across Canada. Larysa is a member of Ukraina School of Dance, where she both dances and teaches younger students. She is a dedicated member of the Ukrainian Canadian community and will continue to be involved in future years to come.