Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (Toronto) has its roots in the Ukrainian Canadian Relief Fund, a volunteer organization that was established in 1945 to assist Ukrainian refugees arriving in Canada after World War II, as well as those still waiting to immigrate in Europe.
In October 1953, a General Meeting was held and the need for a Toronto Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Relief Fund was re-confirmed and the Branch’s work was renewed. At that meeting a Social Service Committee was also charged with the task of developing general social services for the Ukrainian ethno-cultural community in Toronto, as the community need was becoming apparent.
Throughout the 1960’s services expanded to include a Social Service Office and programming for seniors. Volunteers provided all services on a part-time basis. In 1968, the organization was incorporated by Letters Patent as Ukrainian Canadian Welfare Services Inc.
On January 1, 1971, the organization was registered as a charity with Revenue Canada. In 1971, our current facility at 2445 Bloor Street West in Toronto was purchased. Further expansion of programs for seniors and youth in the 1970’s, with services offered on a full-time basis. Increased fundraising activities and the receipt of government grants for programs.
In 1981, approval as an Elderly Persons Centre was received from the Provincial Ministry of Community and Social Services. Provided immigrant settlement services and an Outreach-Day Care Program for seniors in the 1980’s. Total building renovation was carried out in 1984-1985.
The organization’s name was officially changed by Supplementary Letters Patent to Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (Toronto) Inc. in 1991. The 1990’s saw the development of social and group programs for seniors and seminars for new immigrants. Programs offered in the late 1990’s and into 2000 included: community outreach initiatives on woman abuse, family violence and elder abuse; and a seniors’ support group program, and computer and Internet training for seniors.
In 2001, support groups for abused women were offered for the first time in the Ukrainian ethno-cultural community in Toronto. Alzheimer’s Disease information seminars took place in the community in 2004-2005. On February 24, 2007, the organization celebrated its 50th anniversary with a Gala Jubilee Banquet. 300 guests attended including politicians and Ukrainian community leaders. A commemorative booklet as well as a DVD, reviewing over 50 years of community service, were produced. October 2009, reacting to news of human trafficking in Eastern Europe and seniors’ abuse in Canada, UCSS-T initiates a helpline for abused individuals.
The first Ochrymowych Humanitarian Award Banquet is held in April, honoring journalist Victor Malarek for his ground breaking work highlighting the issue of human trafficking in Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, in the international media. The proceeds are dedicated to supporting the UCSS-T Help Line.
A new massage for senior program is started by an accredited volunteer masseur in the UCSS-T building. UCSS-T continues to offer a free income tax clinic for eligible individuals during Income Tax season. UCSS-T continues to offer a free income tax clinic for eligible individuals during Income Tax season.
Second Ochrymowych Gala
During the second Ochrymowych Humanitarian Award Banquet Zenia Kushpeta and Erast Huculak receive the awards. Ms. Kushpeta for her seminal work with Dzherelo in Ukraine; and philanthropist Mr. Huculak for his support of Ukrainian youth in Canada and post-secondary educational institutions in Ukraine. July 2012, Executive Director, Victor Hetmanczuk retires.
UCSS-T applies for and receives a one year Horizons for Seniors Grant from the Ontario Government for roof replacement.
Programs for seniors
Lidia Cymbaluk becomes the new Executive Director. July 2014, an agreement is signed with the Etobicoke Seniors Services (ESS) for ESS to offer a free of charge Seniors Exercise Program in the premises of UCSS-T for the broader Bloor West Village community.
Third Ochrymowych Gala
May 2015, the third Ochrymowych Humanitarian Award Banquet honors the Right Reverend John Tataryn for his tireless work in building an infrastructure to care for seniors and elderly in Toronto’s Ukrainian-Canadian community. September 2015, the film Holodomor: Voices of Survival by Toronto filmmaker Ariadna Ochrymowych, is featured in the UCSS-T building the Friday of the Bloor West Ukrainian Festival, with introductory remarks by actor Luba Goy.