Youth Leadership Award Recipients

The UCC Youth Leadership Award of Excellence recognizes young persons of Ukrainian origin between 18 to 29 years old who has shown consistent involvement and a positive influence in the community life of Ukrainian Canadians.

2022 Youth Leadership Award Recipients

Kira Antonyshyn

Kira is a dedicated member of the Ukrainian community in Canada. Kira was the co-founder and first president of the Queen’s University Ukrainian Students’ Association (QUUSA). She developed QUUSA’s constitution, securing its ratification by Queen’s University, and organized events including informational booths, documentary showings, invited speakers, and fundraisers.

For twelve years, Kira has been actively involved with Plast at the local and national levels. In Toronto, Kira volunteered as a youth counsellor throughout the year and at summer camps. As a Camp Program Director, she organized and implemented an overnight program for over 100 children and counsellors. As a member of Plast’s Structure and Strategy Committee, Kira developed programming and implemented Leaders-In-Training workshops for counsellors from across Canada. For her dedication, Kira was awarded the Ontario Volunteer Service Award.

Kira began volunteering for Help Us Help (HUH) in 2014. As a volunteer, she mentored orphaned children in Ukraine, and, within Canada, organized and executed fundraising events and communications plans. In 2019, Kira began her employment with HUH, first as Communications and Development Officer, and subsequently as Director of Operations. Due to the success of her virtual fundraising efforts, Kira was an invited speaker at the bbcon 2021 International Conference. Kira is currently the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program’s Communications Manager.

Academically, Kira graduated with Distinction from her BSc (Honours) in Life Sciences from Queen’s University, and earned a MSc in Medical Science with a Specialization in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto. She co-authored two scientific research articles and presented at nine conferences. Kira was awarded the Institute of Medical Science Entrance Award, Ontario Graduate Scholarship, School of Graduate Studies Conference Grant, and The Hospital for Sick Children’s Research Training Competition award. Currently, she is in her first year of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Dr. Nadia Demko

Born in Winnipeg to immigrants, the Ukrainian community has always been a focus in Nadia’s life through organizations such as Plast, Rusalka Dance Ensemble, Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral Choir, among others. Upon moving to Montreal to pursue science and medical studies, joining the Ukrainian community there was a priority for Nadia. She soon became active through student organizations like the McGill University Students’ Association (MUSA), eventually serving as President, as well as the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) as Secretary, Executive Vice President, and Alumni Director. Throughout her student years, she organized and participated in many film screenings, protests, awareness campaigns, book launches, concerts, policy meetings, and congresses. She also performed in a joint MUSA and McGill Faculty of Music concert as a soprano soloist and sang recreationally with the ensemble Surmy for multiple years. She was a youth counsellor for both Help Us Help the Children and Plast camps.

Since becoming a physician, Nadia joined Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) Montreal, first as an active donations committee member and now as a board member and the first chair of the cultural committee. Since early 2021, Nadia has organized multiple cultural events, both virtual and in person, with the aim of showcasing professional Ukrainian artists and high-calibre Ukrainian artforms. Notably, she co-organized a concert marking the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence last year that showcased Ukrainian classical and jazz music. This led to the increased use of Montreal’s UNF hall, including recent fundraising concerts for the war relief effort.  Since the start of Russia’s horrific war in Ukraine, Nadia has also been a strong advocate on the cultural front of Russia’s war in Ukraine publishing in Montreal’s La Presse (“Cessons la guerre culturelle contre l’Ukraine”) as well as the classical musical journal La Scena (“Russia’s Cultural War Against Ukraine – A Montreal Story”), which was republished in French for La Parole Ukrainienne de Paris.

Dmytro Dutka

Dmytro is passionate about his Ukrainian community on both a local and international level. His drive to volunteer is to be someone today’s Ukrainian youth can look up to and to engrave the Ukrainian spirit into the next generation.

Once his age permitted, Dmytro transitioned from being a scout participant to a scouts leader. He has held every role as a counsellor including being a weekly meeting leader, camp counsellor, camp director, camp cook, and trainer. He also served as a judge and led multiple teams of youth to Orlykiada: a North American competition for Plast youth members, focusing on leadership, Ukrainian culture and history. Later on, Dmytro took his love of scouts to the next level and volunteered as the section head for young adults for his Toronto branch, National Executive and fraternity (Vovkulaky). He organized his peers to plan and execute several events during the pandemic including a food delivery service for seniors, a car rally to raise spirits in Toronto, a national summer program in 2020, a new merit badge in 2021 and all while hosting online social events across Canada. Most recently, he is a member of the Plast Toronto Council, overseeing the work of the Board of Directors.

Dmytro’s primary passion is summer camps. In 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite numerous challenges and restrictions, Dmytro and 3 other scouts planned and executed a very successful overnight youth camp with over 60 kids. Most recently, he traveled to Austria this summer, where he helped lead a Plast camp for refugee children.

Dmytro is also the recipient of the Ontario Youth Volunteer Service Award, the 2021 Community Recognition Award – Covid Hero as well as the recipient of a St. George in Bronze medal in 2017, the highest award for a Plastyn his age.

Raissa Dzulynsky

Based in Toronto, Raya is a consulting analyst at McKinsey and previously worked as an investment banking analyst at TD Securities. She completed university in 2021 with an Honours Business Administration degree, focused on Finance, and a Bachelor of Science, focused on Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

Raya was involved in the Western Ukrainian Student’s Club and SUSK throughout university. Within SUSK, she was External Relations Director where she led SUSK’s Postcards for Prisoners campaign that sent over 200 postcards to Ukrainian political prisoners. Later, she organized a national buddy program for 59 Ukrainian Mitacs students completing internships in Canada. In her last two years on the SUSK board, Raya acted as Alumni Director leading various initiatives. Some of her initiatives included initiating a monthly video series with SUSK alumni highlighting accomplishments and capturing institutional memories, and leading a team of eight in organizing SUSK’s 2021 National Congress. Raya’s main role, however, was leading the SUSK Endowment Fund, designing the strategy, preparing donor materials, and presenting to potential donors, raising over C$120,000.

Within PLAST, Raya has been a leader for 6-18 year old girls, both during the year and at summer camp. Further, she was head counsellor (бунчужна) for PLAST’s overnight camp for 6-11 year old girls and later managed the pioneering and camping program teaching 11-year old girls skills required for PLAST’s next level. She is a member as the Zeleni Husky group (курін) within PLAST.

Raya’s main involvement in the Ukrainian community has been through PLAST and SUSK; however, she has been involved in other initiatives including organizing a clothing drive at TD to benefit UCC Toronto’s Ukrainian Canadian Parachute store. Throughout university, Raya was also significantly involved in the Western Triathlon Club, student council, and consulted for non-profit corporations.

Roman Grod

Roman is the Manager, of Energy Market Operations Canada for Rodan Energy, a leading North American provider of DER asset optimization, demand response, energy intelligence, and metering solutions. Roman holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Economics degree from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Roman works part of the Rodan leadership team on delivering on our mantra, Making Sustainable Attainable. In his role, Roman leads a team dedicated to delivering best-in-class energy solutions, across North American deregulated markets. Roman’s regulatory knowledge in different ISO’s and a team of strong energy analysts have helped Rodan continue to be the largest Demand Response aggregator in Canada.

Roman actively contributes to the community and was recognized as one of the top 30 under 30 in the Ukrainian Diaspora in 2021 and bestowed the Lieutenant Governor′s Community Volunteer Award in 2016. He served as President of the Ukrainian Canadian Students Union from 2019 – 2021. His duties included popularizing organizations in the country and the world and providing assistance to Ukrainian students. In particular, Roman initiated SUSK Connect, an online database that lets talented youth unite and collaborate on projects, as well as find out about career opportunities and networks. Besides these activities, Roman organized the first virtual national awareness campaign about the Russian-Ukrainian War. During his time as president, SUSK has been successful in raising over $100,000 for the SUSK Endowment fund.

Larisa Hemon

Larisa is a fourth-year student at McMaster University, completing her B. Sc. and specializing in the Sensory Motor Systems. Aside from her studies, Larisa does research with GERAS – an aging research center, and is an executive member of the McMaster Ukrainian Students’ Association (MUSA) since 2019.

On a more national level, Larisa is honoured to be part of the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union – SUSK. She has held the position of Regional VP Central (2020-21), VP National (2021-22), and is currently the Internal Relations Director (2022-23). She has had the opportunity to help implement new initiatives to SUSK, including: USO Spotlight Series; National Online Kolyada; Virtual Club Fair; National Networking Night and more. In addition, her roles on the covid-committee, project grant committee, congress planning committee and advocacy committee have also helped SUSK work towards strengthening and modernizing the Ukrainian Canadian community while also producing the next generation of leaders. Since the start of war, Larisa and her SUSK team have worked to advocate for academic accommodations and mental health support needed at post-secondary institutions across Canada. Currently she is focusing on establishing new Ukrainian Student Organizations on more campuses to help provide a sense of community and support to Ukrainian international and Ukrainian Canadian students.

As a member of the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM), Larisa has volunteered as a counsellor at weekly meetings and summer camps over the years. This past summer, she held the position of program developer and coordinator for a Ukrainian refugee camp as well as a backcountry camping trip for youth.

Larisa also dances in the Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School and is an active member at her Ukrainian Catholic church. Her appreciation for the Ukrainian community gives purpose to her involvement.

Mark Kalimin

Mark has been actively involved in the Toronto Ukrainian Community through his extensive volunteer work and appreciation of Ukrainian culture.

He has dedicated over 10 years of volunteer service with the Plast Ukrainian Youth Association on local and national levels. Nationally, Mark worked as a youth camp counsellor at numerous national youth jamborees. Mark also served as a judge for Orlykiada; a North American competition for Plast youth members, focusing on leadership and Ukrainian culture and history. He also prepared and mentored youth for the Orlykiada competition. At the local level, Mark served as a youth counsellor at weekly meetings for 7 years. As well as, continuously participated in the preparation and execution of overnight summer camps over the past 10 years. During COVID, despite numerous challenges and restrictions, Mark and a small team planned and executed a very successful overnight youth camp. For this camp, they each received the 2021 Community Recognition Award – Covid Hero. Mark is also the recipient of the Ontario Youth Volunteer Service Award for 5+ Years of Service.

Mark’s commitment and love of Ukrainian culture also manifests itself through his 18-year career with the Ukrainian Academy of Dance and Arkan dance group, with whom Mark toured internationally on many occasions.

Most recently, as the war broke out in Ukraine; Mark began to utilize his design background to help support Ukraine during these turbulent times. Saint Javelin inspired him to create and produce various stickers and decals which he sells on his Etsy store; MarkerMarkStudio, with all proceeds going to various humanitarian organizations supporting Ukraine. He also volunteered with Perogies for Peace, in which he made and sold perogies to raise funds for Ukraine.

Zoriana Kilyk

Born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario, Zoriana has always been fiercely proud of her Ukrainian background. For almost two decades now, Zoriana has been actively involved in the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM). She has served various functions in the organization including counselor, program director, and now Vice-President of the Mississauga branch. Through her involvement in CYM she has assisted with organizing countless leadership seminars, camps, and fundraisers. Some notable projects Zoriana has been involved in include creating a colouring book, organizing a 50km Bike-A-Thon, organizing a nationwide youth jamboree, organizing a car-parade for Ukrainian retirement homes and care centers during the Covid-19 pandemic, and running a book club for Ukrainian youth. Zoriana has also had the opportunity to attend and help run youth camps all over Canada, the US, and Ukraine.

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, like most of us, Zoriana is constantly looking for ways to help. She has organized numerous fundraisers, both privately and through CYM. As soon as the war broke out, Zoriana has been coordinating CYM youth to fight russian propaganda online, to attend local rallies, and to write letters to their MPs on a weekly basis. This past summer, Zoriana volunteered at a day camp for over 250 children from Ukraine at CYM’s campground Veselka in Acton, Ontario. Through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Zoriana also volunteers at the welcome table for Ukrainian families at Toronto Pearson Airport.

In her professional life, Zoriana works as a radiation therapist at the Durham Regional Cancer Center in Oshawa. Zoriana is also owner and director at Carswell Music Studios.

Zoriana thanks her family and community for instilling in her a love and a passion for all things Ukrainian, and she is planning on continuing to dedicate her time to the Ukrainian cause for many years to come.

Kassandra Kobelak

Kassandra has been an active volunteer member for over a decade at Plast, Ukrainian Youth Association, at both local and international levels. She has worked with all ages of children and youth through these years planning and running weekly meetings at the local level, as well as numerous overnight summer camps. As a Camp Director she organized and oversaw a 2 week summer camp, developing an engaging program for children ages 6 to 11, as well as training and mentoring counsellors. She was a member of the national level, serving as Co-Director of Programs for children, where she reviewed and reported on programs at branches across Canada, and conducted seminars aimed at improving programming. In 2016 Kassandra was awarded the Ontario Service award for her volunteer work with Ukrainian Youth.Her commitment to community involvement is also evident beyond Plast.

Kassandra assisted the Canadian Cancer Society in the organization of a program supporting children with cancer arriving from Ukraine. She organized the translation of posters and welcome packages and recruited drivers for the Wheels of Hope Program to get children to and from their appointments. She also raised awareness in her school community and led a fund-raising campaign for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Kassandra has completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto and is currently working as a secondary mathematics teacher. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the local chapter of the Ontario Association for Mathematics Education.

Julia Metelitsa

Julia Metelitsa has been an active member of Toronto’s Ukrainian community since childhood. She’s an outgoing and hard-working leader, who volunteers within various organizations. At age 4, she began Ukrainian dance lessons and shared her passion for dance at international festivals in Canada, USA and Indonesia with Arkan Dance Company. Julia taught dance for several years, inspiring a new generation of dancers.

Most of her volunteer work is with Plast Ukrainian Youth Association, which she joined at age 7 as a young scout. As she grew up, so did her involvement in Plast, where she took on various leadership roles. She has been a counsellor for youth in a variety of settings, including summer camps throughout Canada and most recently, in Great Britain.  She has mentored younger scouts and was a trainer at the internationally recognized camp “Golden Mace” (Золота Булава) in July 2022. Plast Toronto’s signature event, the Malanka, has had the benefit of Julia’s event coordination talent since 2019. Additionally, she is co-lead for creating and managing the content for Plast Canada’s national social media platforms.  Julia has been an active volunteer with Ukrainian Canadian Congress and part of the organizing committees of the Invictus Games and Roman Waschuk Galas.

She also joined St. Vladimir Institute’s cultural committee in 2020, managing and moderating their virtual events. In 2022, Julia was awarded with a Plast Certificate of Accomplishment and also the Yvan Baker Award for Leadership. She is a graduate of George Brown College in Special Event Management with Honours and works as an Event & Marketing Professional. Her optimism, positive energy and detail-oriented eye are just a few characteristics that allow her to succeed in the events industry.

Adia Mojsiak

Adia Mojsiak is an educator at heart, and currently works at Mulgrave International School in West Vancouver as part of the Outdoor Education Department and the IB Middle Years Programme Science Department. She studied Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University, graduating with an Honours Specialized degree. Upon graduating in 2015, she moved to British Columbia to take part in the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training Program on Vancouver Island. After 3 years of instructing and guiding youth in the outdoors, Adia decided to pursue her Master of Teaching at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, graduating in 2020.

Throughout her schooling, Adia was an active member of the Ukrainian community through her volunteer work with Plast Ukrainian youth Organization. From starting out as a sestrychka, to becoming a pysar, a zastupnytsia komendanta and finally a komendantka, Adia has made sure to give back to the organization that has such a profound impact on her life. In addition to her work at the local level in Toronto, she has also volunteered at Plast’s international youth leadership camp, Zolota Bulava. Most recently, on a national level in her role as Referent Vyshkolu on Plast Canada’s Board of Directors, Adia spearheaded the first online novatskyj vyshkil in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and started the redevelopment of the program in Canada. Adia is currently working with members of Plast’s Board of Directors to plan a spring camp, Sviato Vesny, for Vancouver’s growing Ukrainian population at her school’s Outdoor Education Centre in Squamish, BC.

Outside of work, Adia enjoys taking advantage of all of the benefits that come along with living on the West Coast. In her free time she enjoys cycling, paddling and spending time playing in the mountains of Coastal BC.

Alysia Pyndiura

Alysia Pyndiura is a teacher and early childhood educator from Toronto, Ontario. She currently teaches for the Toronto Catholic District School Board but has also worked for the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study and Svytlychka Ukrainian Cooperative Nursery School of Toronto. Alysia holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology and a Master of Arts, both from the University of Toronto. She has been an active member of the Ukrainian community both locally and nationally.

For more than a decade, Alysia has been a volunteer at Plast Toronto in various capacities, notably serving as a counsellor for both children and youth at weekly meetings and at numerous summer camps. In her capacity as Camp Program Director and Camp Director at several overnight camps, she developed engaging camp programs, fostering a safe learning and exploratory environment. She believes in inspiring children to feel comfortable with exploring new situations, and developing teamwork, cooperation and leadership skills.

Alysia was involved in developing and implementing strategies for Plast’s scouting program through the Structure and Strategy Committee, and also served on the Mentorship Program Committee to develop an effective mentorship program. She has also served at the Plast Canada national level since 2020 on the Board of Directors, serving as Co-Director of Children’s Programs. Alysia co-created a nation-wide virtual children’s summer program in place of in-person overnight camps which were cancelled due to COVID. The program emphasized the importance of outdoor education, play and exploration. In addition, she organized numerous leadership sessions for counsellors in training, aged 16 to 18.

In her professional capacity she is involved with SUSK Connect, where she connects with and provides career advice to Ukrainian Canadian students across Canada. In her spare time, Alysia volunteers for Ukrainian Canadian Parachute assisting displaced people from Ukraine.

 

Oksana Stech

Oksana Stech is currently working as an Investigator- Financial Crime Investigative Reporting for HSBC.  Oksana has completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and Criminology & Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Toronto, as well as her Master’s Degree in Global Criminology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Oksana is an active member of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada (CYM), where she has been a director on the National Executive Board of Directors since 2019. Recently, she has been appointed as Communications Director. Within the CYM Mississauga Branch, Oksana has been a member of the board since 2016, and currently takes on the role of Program Coordinator, where she organizes weekly meetings for children aged 6-17, yearly leadership seminars and cultural concerts.

Oksana has partnered CYM with Canadian Blood Services and organized a Canada-wide blood donation event which occurs bi-annually in honour of the “Heavenly Hundred Heroes”. She currently is the liaison between the two organizations. Oksana has also helped organize and lead the tri-annual Congress that occurred in Calgary with her session emphasizing how to improve the organization and engage and bring back past members. Oksana has also played an integral role in helping organize and volunteer at summer camps at Veselka (Acton, Ontario) in the past. Specifically, this year, Oksana helped in organizing summer camps for kids affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Oksana continues to promote and show her love of her Ukrainian background by not only teaching the youth and mentoring young adults how to grow and become great leaders, but also how to keep the Ukrainian spirit alive.

2019 XXVI Triennial Congress Award Winners

To see a list of previous Congress awards winners, visit our website here