A Final Note to Our Valued Community

It is unfortunate that we must write this open letter, but we would like to share with our supporters and the Ukrainian community, the series of events that led us to where we are today.

The Ukrainian Canadian Archives and Museum of Alberta (UCAMA), which was originally established in 1974, decided it was time to build a new museum for the preservation of the history and culture of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage. The vision of a new museum began in 2002 and many years were spent trying to bring this project to fruition.  Try as we might, UCAMA was unable to achieve this dream and the unexpected debt load taken on trying to build a new museum surpassed what was manageable.

The original new museum project had a forecasted budget of $12M, with $3M in grants and donations projected from each of the Federal Government, Provincial Government, City of Edmonton, and community donors.

We received support early on from the Provincial Government, with $3M, received in October 2004 and a subsequent $125K grant followed.  The City of Edmonton followed suit in May 2006 with a $3M commitment (of which $2M was ultimately received). However, despite our best efforts we were unable to secure a commitment from the Federal Government.

We met with Anne McLellan (Deputy Prime Minister at the time) several times. Despite her encouraging words leading us to believe we would receive funding, we did not receive any grants from the Liberal government. We continued to lobby and it was not until 2010 that we received a commitment from the Federal Government.

However, this commitment was contingent on the Provincial Government contributing an additional $4M to the project.  In January of 2009 we received a letter from the Minister of Culture and Community Spirit that the province had earmarked an additional $4 million provided we get the Federal funding commitment by March of 2009. On 28 July 2010, representatives from UCAMA and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council met with Provincial Ministers Gene Zwozdesky, Ray Danyluk and Lindsey Blackett to obtain a written commitment of what was promised.  The meeting was unsuccessful.

We continued to press the Federal Government for funds and, at the Triennial Congress of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in November 2010, the Federal Government announced a $3.125 million commitment to the museum. This amount was based on what the Provincial Government had contributed to date.  Had the Province issued their formal commitment for the additional $4 million we had been promised, we would have received $8.125M from the Federal Government and we would have been able to complete the project.

Between 2004-2010, while we were awaiting funding, construction costs for this project escalated rapidly from the original $12M to s $21M. Had we received a commitment from the Federal Government by 2006 as originally anticipated, we could have had the museum built for $12M.

Due to the delay in funding, construction did not begin until June 2012. This was to have been built using a phased approach, with UCAMA hopeful that the funding shortfall could be raised to ultimately complete the project.

We hired a professional fundraiser, Adam Zawaduk, in 2012 for a one year term. He was unable to raise any substantial funds. Then in 2016 we hired another professional fundraiser, William Petruck (FUNDING Matters Inc. from Toronto) for a two year term. Mr. Petruck was unable to raise any funds.

This project was feasible at the start, before construction costs ballooned. It quickly became apparent that we could not continue much longer as our fundraising efforts had failed. UCAMA was forced to stop construction on all buildings and tried in vain to regroup and come up with a new plan.  Although the building construction was at a standstill, we continued to incur expenses and our debt grew.

So, where did all the money go? In short, primarily to pay for the construction costs.  All our financial documents (prepared by an accounting firm) have always been shared at our Annual General Meetings.  Details were never withheld and UCAMA was transparent with their reporting.

For those more curious, here is a brief breakdown of the expenses we incurred in the building process:

Delnor Construction (Lodge Hotel) $10,100,000
Hip Architecture (Lodge Hotel) $1,400,000
Fundraising $500,000
Interest on loans $350,000
Taxes $460,000
Altus building reports $28,000
Insurance $200,000
Fusion FX Construction (Brighton Block) $1,248,000
Other building costs (wrapping buildings) $303,000

With $14,589,000 in expenses and only $9,500,000 in revenue, it was clear that we would not be successful in achieving our dream. The Brighton Block was sold to cover off some debt and the Lodge Hotel was foreclosed on.

All that was left was UCAMA’s original building and the library, artefact, and archival collections. And then the lender began foreclosure proceedings.

UCAMA board members realized the best option available was to appeal for help to save the collection from the creditor’s auction house. UCC-APC was approached to assist in raising the $70,000 needed to save the collection. Thankfully UCC-APC agreed to approach various organizations and individuals to raise the necessary funds. UCAMA is extremely grateful to them and the numerous other organizations, groups, and individuals that donated the necessary funds to secure the collection.

UCAMA collections that were on loan have been returned to the original donors. Some of the collection has been distributed to other Ukrainian Museums in Alberta: The Ukrainian Catholic Women’s League of Canada Museum – Edmonton Eparchy; the Ukrainian Museum of Canada – Alberta Branch; the Ukrainian Museum of Canada – Calgary Collection; and the Ukrainian Women’s Organization (Edmonton). The Kule Folklore Centre is the new repository for UCAMA’s archival records and the Basilian Fathers Museum in Mundare receives the remainder (about 95 %) of the UCAMA textile, artifact, and art collection along with the entire library and newspaper collections.

As a result of these events, UCAMA will cease to exist after 2020. We would like to thank those individuals and organizations that have supported and donated generously to UCAMA over the past 46 years. While we are saddened by this unfortunate end to our organization, we are grateful that the UCAMA collection will live on and continue to be showcased by her sister museums in Alberta.


UCAMA Board of Directors