In 1993 the Saskatchewan government established a citizen committee to:
- provide advice on enhancing business opportunities and cultural ties with Ukraine,
- continue work on student exchanges, and
- strengthen the civil society of Ukraine.
That committee was succeeded by other advisory bodies over the years, and in 2009 the government revitalized the citizen group as the Saskatchewan-Ukraine Relations Advisory Committee (SURAC). In March 2015 the government extended SURAC and its mandate to 2018.
SURAC serves as a community-based focal point for residents, businesses and educational institutions interested in Saskatchewan-Ukraine relations, and makes recommendations to the government on programs that advance those relations. In that regard, it has offered advice on the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program and on Memoranda of Understanding that were established with the Ukrainian states of Chernivtsi Oblast and Zhytomyr Oblast.
SURAC has also played a role more recently in raising awareness around the escalation of political violence in Ukraine. Its advice led to the government donating $60,000 in aid to Ukraine that was used to buy medical supplies, support family rehabilitation and provide trauma support for healthcare professionals. As well, SURAC was instrumental in a community- and government-supported project that saw four donated ambulances from Saskatchewan and Alberta sent to Ukrainian hospitals in the fall of 2015. The Saskatchewan government provided $25,000 in financial support to that initiative.
SURAC receives administrative support from Intergovernmental Affairs of Executive Council. The Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan-Ukraine Relations is a liaison to the committee.
Members of SURAC
David Dutchak, Saskatoon
David Dutchak has been involved with emergency management services in the province since 1979 and recently retired as President and CEO of MD Ambulance Care Ltd. of Saskatoon. He helped spearhead the national Ambulances for Ukraine project which has seen donated ambulances sent to the conflict zone in that country. Mr. Dutchak is a past president of the Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Services Association, and the Saskatoon and Saskatchewan Chambers of Commerce.
Alicia Klopoushak, Saskatoon
Alicia Klopoushak is a retired teacher of gifted learners in the Saskatoon Public School Division and continues to serve the division as a guest teacher of creative futures problem-solving classes. She has worked with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) to establish English language classes for new immigrants to Saskatoon. Ms. Klopoushak currently serves as President of the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in Saskatoon. She has also held leadership roles with the provincial and national executives of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada.
Gerald Luciuk, Regina
A professional agrologist by training, Gerald Luciuk has served in a number of senior executive roles with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. He has extensive international project experience in Ukraine, China and Russia and served as a policy advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture in Ukraine. He also participated in the PFRA-Eastern Europe Bilateral Program. Mr. Luciuk is a national board member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada and is active in a number of local and provincial Ukrainian organizations.
Angela Wojcichowsky, Saskatoon
Angela Wojcichowsky is the Director of International Projects at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. In this role, she has primary responsibility for marketing consulting services to international clients, enhancing relationships with international organizations, and obtaining and managing large scale international funding contracts. Ms. Wojcichowsky has over 15 years experience working in Ukraine on a variety of development projects for the Government of Canada and is currently overseeing projects related to skills training and small business and economic development. She is active in the Ukrainian community in Saskatoon, volunteering with the Canada Ukraine Centre, the Yevshan Ukrainian Folk Ballet Ensemble and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of All Saints.
James (Jim) Shevchuk, Battleford
James Shevchuk has been a teacher and administrator in rural Saskatchewan for the past 25 years, with positions in Landis, Hafford and North Battleford. He is currently a superintendent of education with Living Sky School Division. He holds advanced degrees in Ukrainian Educational History and Educational Administration from the University of Saskatchewan. Mr. Shevchuk assists various environmental organizations and Ukrainian immigrant groups. He grew up in Saskatoon’s Ukrainian community, is passionate about Ukrainian dance, and is a lifetime member of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada.
Mary Ann Trischuk, Yorkton
Yorkton pharmacist Mary Ann Trischuk is a member of the Pharmacists Association of Saskatchewan and the College of Saskatchewan Pharmacists. She has served on the University of Saskatchewan Senate and the University of Saskatchewan Alumni Association and is past president of the Canadian Federation of University Women (Yorkton). She is an executive member of the local and provincial Ukrainian Women’s Associations of Canada. As a board member of the Health Foundation for the Sunrise Health Region, she continues her work with fundraising activities. Her role as President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatchewan Provincial Council allows her the opportunity to help preserve and promote Ukrainian culture and identity harmoniously within the province.
Holly Paluck, Regina
Holly Paluck is a long-time educator and school-based administrator who has worked in diverse educational environments in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Japan. She currently serves as a principal in the Regina Catholic School Division. She has worked as a religion and family life consultant for the division, served on many system-level committees, and helped develop resources for division-wide observances of the Holodomor. Her involvement with Saskatchewan’s Ukrainian community has been extensive. Ms. Paluck is chair of the Holodomor Awareness and Education Committee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Saskatchewan Provincial Council and is a member of the UCC National School Council Committee.
Laurent Mougeot, Regina
Laurent Mougeot is the Chief Executive Officer of the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association. His 40-year career as a professional planner has been devoted to working with local governments and has shared his knowledge and expertise with communities here at home and around the world. He has worked on a number of international projects, providing advice to local and central governments on capacity development, governance and strategic advocacy. He has travelled to Ukraine on business and has hosted delegations from Ukraine. Mr. Mougeot is active in the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Saskatchewan Professional Planners Institute.
Larissa Van Caeseele, Yorkton
Larissa Van Caeseele is a middle-years teacher in the Christ the Teacher Catholic School Division in Yorkton. Following graduation from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, she worked as a substitute teacher in several cities before becoming the school liaison coordinator at Orcadia Youth Residence, a young offender custody facility outside Yorkton. Mrs. Van Caeseele has made Yorkton her home for the past 15 years and has been active in a number of Ukrainian community and school organizations, including school community councils, Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Yorkton branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Jodi Banks, Regina
Jodi Banks is the Assistant Deputy Minister, International Relations and Protocol, Intergovernmental Affairs, Executive Council. Her office provides secretariat and organizational support to SURAC. Ms. Banks has worked with the Government of Saskatchewan for 25 years, having held senior positions at the Ministry of Agriculture and the Canadian Intergovernmental Relations Branch of Intergovernmental Affairs, Executive Council. Ms. Banks holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Administration degrees from the University of Regina.