U. P. Teachers -- Newsletter

Ukrainian Professional Teachers Association of Ontario

September 2009

We wish all teachers a successful, professionally satisfying, enjoyable school year.

Many members of our group have been busy this summer. Here’s the latest.

Toronto District School Board Curriculum initiatives:  Last September, after some aggressive lobbying on the part of the Holodomor Education Team and with pressure and support from the Ukrainian community, the TDSB unanimously passed two motions: to designate the last Friday of November as Holodomor Memorial Day and to instruct staff to prepare a teaching unit on the Holodomor by the end of August 2009. Although the Director ordered that Holodomor Memorial Day be observed in all high schools, we found that not all schools fully participated. This year, we all have to help ensure that implementation is more consistent in all TDSB schools.

Implementation of the second motion has been more successful so far. Under the supervision of Superintendent Chris Usih, the Board History curriculum writing team prepared a teaching unit for the Grade 12 World History and World Politics courses. Valentina Kuryliw, retired Department Head of History and Social Studies, served as consultant to the writing team, provided resources, and directed the writers to examine issues important to us. The writing team completed a draft of their work for our review by mid-August of this year. The Holodomor Education Team recommended several revisions and is now awaiting the final versions of these documents. They should be available to schools by mid October.

If you are a TDSB high school teacher, watch for the arrival of these documents in your school and encourage your history teachers to teach the newly prepared units.

Congratulations, Valentina, for keeping the board writing team honest and for getting the job done.  Next step --  the Ministry. (Please see below.)


Toronto Catholic District School Board: This summer, Marika Szkambara arranged a meeting with Superintendent Tony Casole of the TCDSB to discuss the possibility of designating November as Ukrainian Month in all TCDSB schools. Halia Dmytryshyn is compiling a wonderful presentation package with lesson suggestions and articles on Ukrainian history, culture and religious traditions. As well, a list of print, audio-visual resources, handouts and list of speakers will be made available to all schools.  Since Holodomor Memorial Day falls in November, we will ask the Board to ensure that all schools participate in the commemoration of this event on Friday, November 27 of this year.

Andrij Melnyk, Valentina Kuryliw, Marika and Halia will make a presentation to the TCDSB regarding this matter on September 23, 2009.

Teachers in Catholic schools are asked to enthusiastically support this initiative and to volunteer their schools to host events connected with Ukrainian Month. Thank you, Andrij, Valya, Marika and Halia for your efforts. Good luck on the 23rd.

Meeting with Ministry of Education Officials: This year, the History and Social Science curricula are scheduled for review by the Ministry. This may be our last opportunity for many years to make significant changes and improvements to the current curriculum offerings. Alex Chumak has been in continuous contact with Karen Gill, the Manager of Implementation and Review, Curriculum and Assessment Branch of the Ministry. A meeting is scheduled to take place later this month. We will present fact sheets, teaching kits, draft curriculum and other materials on the Holodomor and the Internment of World War I and will ask for representation on the review committees. If you are a history teacher, plan to volunteer to serve on one of the Ministry review committees which will be set up soon. It will be an excellent professional experience and will ensure that the information we feel is important will be included in the new curriculum documents.

Thank you, Alex, for your determination and perseverance in this matter. 


Political Action: Our community is under-represented politically at the municipal, school board, provincial and federal levels. We can change this situation by getting fully involved in the political process and by working to elect candidates who are sensitive to our community needs.

School Board elections will take place in fourteen months, in November 2010. We are actively seeking people who are prepared to run for the position of trustee with both the Public and the Catholic boards in ridings, especially where many Ukrainians live. Marika Szkambara and Andrij Melnyk are co-chairing a Search Committee seeking to identify potential candidates. Once identified, we will have to strongly support our candidates financially and by volunteering to work on their campaigns.

Our group will cooperate with the Professional and Business Club of Toronto in this regard. Eugene Yakovitch has volunteered to act as liaison between our groups.

Provincial elections are scheduled for October 2011 and Federal elections may take place anytime. Plan to question the candidates in your riding and strongly support the candidate who will support our agenda.

If you know anyone who may be interested in running for trustee, please let Marika or Andrij know.


OHASSTA Conference, November 6-7, 2009: The Ontario History and Social Studies Teachers’ Association Conference will be held in Toronto once more. Last year, Valentina Kuryliw ran a very successful workshop on “The Unknown Genocide: the Ukrainian Holodomor 1932-1933”. This year there will be a Plenary Session: Curriculum Review Symposium on Canadian and World Studies. The Ministry is interested in hearing from teachers suggestions for change.  There will be reps from the Ministry to  hear comments and suggestions. To date, two important issues: the Internment of Ukrainians and others in World War 1 and the Holodomor have been ignored to date by curriculum writers in the Ministry. All history and social studies teachers are urged to attend this important symposium to let our suggestions for change be known.. Please let us know if you are planning to attend.