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An award worthy commitment to her community
Sonja Bejzyk recognized by governor general
Sonja Bejzyk was simply looking to fill some spare time after retiring from her 30-year teaching career in 1990.
"After I retired, and I seemed to have more time on my hands, I got involved," explained the St. Boniface resident.
But instead of picking up one or two volunteer positions, like most people do, Bejzyk took leadership roles with half a dozen organizations.
Her tireless commitment to those organizations earned the approval of the Governor General of Canada. On April 17, Bejzyk was one of 28 Canadians — and the only Manitoban — to be presented with a Caring Canadian Award from Governor General David Johnston.
The award recognizes Canadians or permanent residents who have made "significant, sustained, unpaid" contributions to their community.
Jane Luchak, who nominated Bejzyk for the award, said while her friend may have taken a bigger role once retired, she has always been active in her community.
"She’s spent her whole life working for the benefit of women and the Ukrainian-Canadian community," she said. "This is her way."
Bejzyk — who spent years teaching at Miles Macdonell Collegiate — said she was surprised and moved by the award, adding she’s wasn’t sure if she deserved it.
"I’m thinking there are many, many, many other people who do maybe even more than me," she said. "I was grateful to be nominated and to be there."
And while Bejzyk may doubt her worthiness, her volunteer resume tells another story.
She’s an executive on the board of St. Andrew’s College, president of the board for the Ukrainian Voice newspaper, and also president of the board of her church’s branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada.
She’s also the immediate past president of the council of her church, Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral in the North End. Having served for six year, Bejzyk was the first women to hold the position.
She’s also the immediate past president of the national executive of the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada, and a long-serving member of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress.
Bejzyk said volunteering her time has been a rewarding experience.
"It’s challenging, it’s rewarding," she said. "You do it because you like to do the work."
Bejzyk said it’s also important for her to be involved with Ukrainian organizations, saying her parents instilled in her the meaning of staying connected to her culture.
""I would like to leave a legacy for the younger people," she said. "It’s important to maintain your roots."
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