Investing in Ukrainian-Canadians during their post-secondary years

By Raissa Dzulynsky

To start off, I’d like you to take a moment to think.

You’re back in your first year of university living away from your parents for the first time, in a new place, eager to make friends and feel part of the community. It’s all very overwhelming. You go to your school’s club fair and see a familiar booth. It’s the booth for the Ukrainian students’ club and you think one of two things: “Finally something that reminds me of home!” or “Maybe I should learn about my heritage.” Regardless, you go and sign up for the club.

What is SUSK in relation to this?

SUSK oversees more than 25 Ukrainian student clubs across Canada. We provide funding and resources for clubs, organize a national congress for students to network and learn from each other, and provide students with the opportunity to make an impact on a national scale.

Why did I join SUSK?

In the summer between my first and second year of university, I was the head counsellor at Plast Ukrainian Youth Organization’s overnight youth camp in Ontario. This was an aspiration of mine; a position that I had wanted ever since I was chosen to be the ‘komandantka’ or leader when I was a camper.

However, after that and my involvement in my university’s Ukrainian students’ club, I wanted to make a difference and give back to my community on a broader scale. Thankfully, I found SUSK, where I have been a board member for four years.

‘Komandantka’ for a day
credits to Oksana Horich Pastuczak

What has SUSK given me?

SUSK is the organization that empowered me to stay involved in the Ukrainian-Canadian community as my interests and values developed throughout university. It gave me the opportunity to try various roles, and further develop skills that I will use throughout my future career and community involvement.  

Further, SUSK emphasized that Ukrainian-Canadians can differ in their waves of immigration, religious affiliations, political allegiances and regions of Canada, but this diversity is an advantage because when we work together, we can develop innovative solutions that support all Ukrainians.

Why support SUSK?

Post-secondary is one of the last frontiers for young adults to immerse themselves in their heritage, cultural traditions and present-day issues in their community. Without the involvement in their post-secondary years in the Ukrainian-Canadian community, many young adults lose this part of their cultural identity.

The influence SUSK has on all university and college students, both Ukrainian-Canadian and Canadian, is immense. We teach students about Ukraine in the past, such as the Holodomor, and the present, such as the war Ukraine is fighting with Russia.

These students are Canada’s future leaders.

What else does SUSK do?

SUSK has various initiatives from our mentorship program, to advocacy efforts, to welcoming students from Ukraine that participate in the Mitacs Globalink program every year.

Take a look at our website to learn more. You will find our ‘Student’ newspaper which has existed since the 1960s, our USO (club) resources, additional blog posts and much more!