Monday, January 30, 2012

Durie Reno Diary Pt. 2

A view of one of the offices.
The construction project at the Durie branch is proceeding a pace. All the mechanical and electrical work has been finished and now the sub-floor is in and most of the drywalling is done. The batch of new offices is taking shape as is the central areas where we will be providing some interesting new programming and services.

Still about a month to go before everything is done, but in another week or so we will probably really be able to see things take their final shape.

Soon we will also be able to begin informing you about some of the events and activities that will take place around the official opening of the space.

During the construction we will continue providing access to the on-site ATM (with some minor disruptions when work on the foyer and facade make it unsafe to allow people to enter the ATM vestibule). Access to the safe deposit boxes will also be available, but only by prior appointment. Please call our call centre at 416-8922-4407 or 1-800-461-0777 to arrange a visit. Please be aware that there will be certain days on which, due to safety concerns related to an active construction site, access may not be possible.

You can see more photos on our blog in the Durie Branch Renos folder. And you can read a previous post about the reconstruction here: Durie Reno Diary Pt. 1.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Things you didn't know about UCU members

Orest Sushko with Mykola Liskiwsky (centre) and
Petro Kytasty (right) - the two remaining survivors
 of the Kapelia Banduristiv that originated in Kyiv in
1941 during WWII and eventually made their way to
Detroit. Their friendship with Orest’s father Makar
paved the way for Orest to record a very
personal facet of history.
Spot light on:

Orest Sushko

Recently we had a chance to speak with Orest Sushko, a long-time UCU member who currently resides in California. Orest is the producer and director of Music of Survival – The Story of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. This documentary is a vivid chronicle of 17 members of the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus (Капеля Бандуристів) and their harrowing journey through WWII. In the face of death – they played on, singing of their homeland and liberty. They defied the odds, and their gift of music carried them across the ocean to freedom, where their legacy continues today.

In his day job, Orest is an Emmy Award winning re-recording film mixer. He has worked on many well-known films including Crash, History of Violence and Eastern Promises. The latter film netted him a 2008 Genie Award for Best Achievement in Overall Sound.

His film, Music of Survival chronicles the history of the Bandurist Chorus, weaving together a visually rich narrative on the history of the bandura, coupled with rare archival footage and moving performances - all shepherded through the compelling interviews from the last two survivors of the early Chorus; Petro Kytasty and Mykola Liskiwsky. (Information on how you can help support this project is at the end of the post - click the "read more" link to see it)
The film draws a sympathetic portrait of the post-World War II émigré community and celebrates the resilience of a culture that has survived centuries of repression. Orest draws the comparison to what the Ken Burns documentary series on the American Civil War and the History of Jazz gave North American audiences in terms of a deeper understanding of their own culture. In that same manner, he feels that Music of Survival brings out the deepest roots of our traditions and the very best in our Ukrainian national character.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week Two Results In - Winners' Circle Rotation Full Swing!

Just as we noticed in our first contest, we see changes already occuring with our Winners' Circle, as top spot from Week One has dropped out, and replaced by a new portfolio. Market volatility will do this, but most acutely will volatility of individual positions, and this can help or hinder any portfolio on any given week. With the S&P 500 Composite Index basically flat on the week (up a paltry 0.7% in USD terms), the TSX Composite Index showed a 1/2% gain while the NASDAQ showed the strongers run, up over 1% on the week (thank you AAPL!). But individual stocks, especially junior mining stocks, had quite a volatile week, with some gaining strongly while others faltered, and this caused the greatest changes to our leader board.

At the end of Week Two, we have a new leader, Adam M., whose portfolio generated a very impressive 12% return on the week, and is now up over 20% since the start of the contest. Heavy on mining stocks, especially in precious metals, the portfolio is positioned to gain as the Fed indicated continued long term low interest rates, which supports higher inflationary expectations that props up precious metal valuations.

In second place, we have Volodymyr V., who's portfolio gained 8% on the week, and who moved up one notch from third place last week. Haresh P. is holding onto 3rd spot.

Although not in the Winners' Circle yet, the best performances on the week came from Adam F., whose portfolio gained 27% on the week, reversing a 17% drop in Week One, and bringing his portfolio into the 8th position. Alexandra F. also gained over 20% on the week, and now sits in 11th position after a slow start in Week One. Both are within striking distance of a prize, especially given how quickly any portfolio can rise or fallen within a short period of time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Lunar New Year

The staff at our Etobicoke branch were pleasantly surprised by a nice gift in honour of the Lunar New Year from members John Tomenchuk and Kim B. Nguyen. This year is the year of the Dragon and it officially started on January 23, 2012. Like in many other Asian cultures, the dragon is the most revered of all the Vietnamese zodiac signs. The mythical power of the dragon is such that many households place it above their door to ward off any ill will. 

Anyway, since it was such a nice surprise, they wanted to share it with everyone else and give a hearty thank you to John and Kim!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Windsor Branch member takes second place

Dr. Walter Yaworsky a longtime member of our Windsor branch stopped by yesterday to accept his 2nd place award in the first round of the UCU Investment Challenge.

Mike Kryworuchko, Branch Manager in Windsor and Alison Conroy, Operations Manager were on hand to present Dr. Yaworsky with his award which will be invested in an account by UCU's Wealth Strategies Group.

According to our records, Dr. Yaworsky was the very first person to officially sign up for the 1st round of the investment challenge and he won with a portfolio that consisted of the following assets:

AXP    20%
MO     20%
CEF    20%
HNZ   20%
HON  20%

Read about the 3rd place winner Lara Framko.

Building Community

We have now posted all of the first batch of clips of people who contributed to our Building Community video. The series demonstrates how important a vital and thriving community is to our continued existence. Several dozen of our members who are active in all walks of life came together last spring to help record the various organizations, causes and individuals that Ukrainian Credit Union Limited has been proud to sponsor over the years.

The original full-length video shown at the AGM

Over the course of a cold and snowy weekend, we a gathered in a tiny condo near the famous Drake Hotel in the trendy Queen West neighbourhood just east of Parkdale. One by one, or sometimes, two by two, our volunteers, young and old, filed through the narrow space to get their faces touched up for the camera by our makeup artists, then into the waiting room to compose themselves and then out in front of the cameras. 

If you haven't seen these videos yet, this post gives you a recap of all the ones that we have posted on our YouTube Channel so far.

Monday, January 23, 2012

ChangeIt information session

Attendees at the ChangeIt information session watch a
demonstration of how simple it is to enrol
Representatives of various Ukrainian charitable organizations gathered at the Ukrainian Credit Union head office today (January 23) to learn about the ChangeIt charitable giving program. UCU was the first financial institution in Canada to launch this program, and Ukrainian charities including the UNF Foundation, the Taras Shevchenko Foundation and the Canada Ukrainian Foundation were the first charities to sign up. Today there are dozens of charities in three provinces enrolled in the program and more are joining weekly. You can learn about the program and see a longer list of charities in the program here.

You can see a few more pictures of the evening on our facebook page here. Also, there was a segment on Kontakt TV a while ago that explained a bit about the ChangeIt program, you can watch it here: Stay Ukrainian My Friend.

UCU Investment Challenge 2 - Week One Results In!

Our contest participants have been very patient as we have spent more time than usual in reviewing all the entries into the UCU Investment Challenge 2. The contest will run very similar to the first one which concluded on December 16th. The start date for UCU 2 was January 16th, with all portfolio positions priced as of the close of trading on January 13th. On February 17th, at 11:59pm will be the one opportunity to make trades, but the portfolio will have to have a minimum of 3 positions, with the smallest position to be 10% of the total portfolio. The UCU2 will conclude on Friday March 16th, with closing prices on that day as the price point for all positions.

This time around, we have 59 portfolios entered, about 10 more than in the first go around. This is great! We have many returning contestants, including those who one prizes in the first go around, but there are also about 1/3 new participants this time - word is getting out about the contest.

About 25% of the portfolios are using ETFs, which is considerably more than the first time, and most portfolios are structured in a concentrated manner, holding the minimum 3 positions, and about 1/2 of the portfolios are evenly balanced, and the other half have focused on weighting more heavily favoured positions.

The top three portfolios as of the end of Week One are: 1. Yuri B. with a 16.7% return after one week. Yuri's portfolio is focused on 4 penny stock positions, with heavy exposure to the mining sector. 2. Haresh P. has generated a 13.8% return so far, and has an evenly balanced 3 position portfolio, with exposure to dividend income stocks, consumer services and China. 3. Volodymyr V. has an evenly balanced 5 position portfolio, with a variety of exposures, including large caps, penny stocks, high risk (Greece exposure), China and energy. His portfolio returned 8.2% on the week.

If the previous contest is any indication, this one will see many twists and turns throughout the roughly 9 weeks, and portfolios will change places frequently. We hope that this time market sentiment will be better, and we'll be able to avoid general market sell offs, as we experienced in November 2011.

Good luck to everyone!

Friday, January 20, 2012

FatCat says Happy New Year!

FatCat and Yuriy Diakunchak
My good friend FatCat had so much fun at the St. Joseph's Ukrainian Catholic Church Malanka on January 14 that he asked me to write a few words on his behalf. This was the 7th edition of this family oriented Malanka, designed especially so that parents can ring in the New Year along with their children in a fancy setting.

The church organizes a special room stocked with games and activities where volunteers keep the kids busy before and after dinner so that parents can socialize in the main hall with their friends without worrying that their kiddies are getting bored and incessantly asking "Can we go home now?".

Anyway, FatCat dropped by to meet with the kids and pose for a few fun photos. You can see the photos here: FatCat photo shoot. Additional photos from this Malanka and others can be found on our Facebook page in the Malanka 2012 album.

You can also view a video of the evening's Master of Ceremonies Bohdan Dolban talking about his very positive experiences with Ukrainian Credit Union at this link Bohdan at St Joseph Malanka.

FatCat wishes everyone a great year ahead and looks forward to seeing you at future events! Meow!

Monday, January 16, 2012

UCU Investment Challenge 2 kicks off

The second round of the UCU Investment Challenge has now started! We're entering everyone's portfolios into a big spreadsheet that will track everyone's performance over the course of the competition. We'll post the first results likely at the end of this week.

In the meantime, good luck to all who entered. May the canniest investor win!

Just like last time, we'll post links to all the updates in one spot on the UCU Investment Challenge section of this blog so that you can quickly see any and all updates that have been posted to date.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

1st winner of the 2012 Living Well Calendar!

 Our St. Demetrisu branch was pleased to report that Nadia Boddy who frequently drops by to visit, and who purchased a Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre 2012 Living Well Calendar, was the first person to win in the weekly draw!

To learn more about the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre please visit:

To keep track of win ners throughout the year you can visit the Winner's Wall.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apply for a UCU Scholarship

Don't miss your chance, the deadline is February 29, 2012!!!

It's back to that time of year that UCU awards a number of scholarships to deserving students. We have several different scholarships available (more details here) ranging from $1,000 to $2,500.

There are three invididual scholarships availaible that are awarded to a single qualifying recipient:

1. The Michael Rebryk Memorial Scholarship ($2,500)
2. The Wasyl Sytynk Memorial Scholarship ($2,500)
3. The Board Chair's Scholarship ($2,000)

Finally, there are the UCUYKC Community Leadership Awards, each worth $1,000 that can be won by multiple qualifying candidates. For example, last year, 7 students won a UCUYKC Community Leadership Award.

Details on what you need to qualify for each of these are available on our website on the Scholarships page.

You can see last year's winners on our Facebook page in the 2011 UCU Scholarship Winners album.

McGill Students takes 3rd place in UCU Investment Challenge

Lara accepts a novelty cheque from Michael Zienchuk,
Manager of the Wealth Strategies group at UCU
Lara Franko, the third place winner of our first Investment Challenge came by our Bloor Branch last week to collect her $500 prize. She invested her winnings into an account managed by Michael Zienchuk of our Wealth Strategies Group.

Lara is a 1st year student at McGill University enrolled in the International Development Studies program. She says she applied for the program because she is interested in world issues, politics and anthropology and the IDS program combines all three of those interests.

"I have learned a lot about different cultures and societies, and I think understanding this is important in order for me to work in other countries trying to help them in development," Lara says. She is looking forward to finding a summer job or internship with an organization like Free the Children Toronto, Habitat for Humanity, Unicef or a similar group.

"I signed up for the UCU investment challenge because it was a great opportunity to learn about stocks and investing," she says. "The contest is a fun competitive way to learn about the stock market and how to invest. I would definitely recommend the contest to other students!"

She took third place with a balanced strategy that was not too high risk, "I am generally careful with finances, I wouldn't feel comfortable in a high-risk investment," she adds.

We wish Lara all the best in her studies and future investments. To find out how to sign up for the next round of the UCU Investment Challenge, click here. But hurry, the deadline is January 13!

We will post photos of the other winners when we have a chance to get them. In the meantime the full list of winners is here: We have our winners.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Durie Reno Diary Pt. 1

Do you recognize the teller counter? We've got something
really great planned for this space.
Happy New Year to all! Anyway, the long anticipated renovations at our Durie and Bloor location are now underway, entering week two! Most of the demolition has now been finished and the real work will soon begin.

Since we amalgamated our Bloor West Village teller services at our Armadale branch in the summer, we have been working to put everything in place for a renovation of our Durie location. It will soon re-open as the headquarters of our Wealth Strategies Group. The building will also hold other services such as our marketing department. Stay tuned for other relevant announcements that will be made a bit later.

During the counstruction we will continue providing access to the on-site ATM (with some minor disruptions when work on the foyer and facade make it unsafe to allow people to enter the ATM vestibule. Access to the safe deposit boxes will also be available, but only by prior appointment. Please call our call centre at 416-8922-4407 or 1-800-461-0777 to arrange a visit. Please be aware that there will be certain days on which, due to safety concerns related to an active construction site, access may not be possible.

You can see more photos on our blog in the Durie Branch Renos folder.

Friday, January 6, 2012

З Різдвом Христовим!

Want to have more say in your credit union?

Get yourself nominated to our Board of Directors! For information on the nomination process click on the image on the left (or scroll to the end of this post for additional information).

What better way to take an active part in your credit union than to sit on the Board of Directors and help in making strategic decisions about how the credit union operates?

This year, three board seats are up for elections (one of those spots is reserved for a member that resides in the Regional Municipality of Niagara). Each is for a term of three years. Last year we had a pretty competitive election with 4 nominees vying for 2 spots. You can read about about that in an older blog post on the topic linked here. Last year was quite exciting because one of the winners is the youngest person ever elected to the UCU Board of Directors.

We encourage anyone who is interested to seriously consider throwing their name into the hat.  But hurry, nominations will only be accepted between January 23 and February 24, 2012, so don't miss your chance to make a big difference.

3 позиції, кожна на 3-річну каденцію (Одна зарезервована для мешканця Регіоального Муніципалітету Ніагари)

Номінаційний період, під час якого Номінаційна Комісія приймає зголошення імен потенційних кандидатів на нижчеподані посади триватиме від 23-го січня до
го лютого 2012 року.

Номінаційні пакети можна набути у відділах нашої Кредитівки, або звязавшись з Телебанковним Центром УКС. Виповнені заяви просимо передати особисто чи надіслати поштою до Головного Бюра Кредитової Спілки не пізніше 5-ої години, 24-го лютого 2012 р. на таку адресу:

Chair, Nominating Committee
Ukrainian Credit Union Limited
145 Evans Avenue, Suite 300, M8Z 5X8

За детальною інформацією просимо звертатись до нашого Call Centre за тел.: 416.922.4407 або 1.800.461.0777 або


3 positions, each for a 3-year term (1 position is reserved for a candidate ordinarily resident in the Regional Municipality of Niagara)

The nomination period during which the Nominating Committee shall be accepting names of potential candidates for nominations is from January 23 to February 24, 2012.
Nomination packages are available at any branch of the Credit Union or can be requested by contacting the UCU Call Centre. Completed forms must be delivered personally or by mail to the Head Office of the Credit Union no later than 5:00 p.m., February 24, 2012, and addressed to: 
Chair, Nominating Committee
Ukrainian Credit Union Limited
145 Evans Avenue, Suite 300, M8Z 5X8

For further information, please contact our Call Centre at 416. 922.4407 or 1.800.461.0777 or