News and updates

Apr 20, 2024

Recently, representatives of Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (UCSS) - Ottawa Branch visited our school with wonderful gifts for our school family. Thank you so much for your support!!!

UCSS is also pleased to invite interested students to register for the Ukrainian Children's Camp "SONYASHNYK", which invites children aged 8 to 13 years old for summer vacation! Children's camp is a friendly, family atmosphere, unforgettable and vivid impressions, incredibly interesting and meaningful leisure, and delicious Ukrainian cuisine! The wonderful and cheerful Sunflower team is waiting to meet their little friends!

For more information, please contact us at

Feb 16, 2024

Many Ukrainian newcomers to Ottawa have been asking questions about employment in the food industry.

On investigation we were able to locate and connect with Olga Ostafiichuk - Public Health Inspector, Healthy Environment, Renfrew County and District Health Unit.

Olga offered to provide a Food Handler's Course (also known as a Food Safety Course) to newcomers in our Ukrainian language, and translated the course and the exam into Ukrainian as well. All FREE of charge.

A highlight of the sessions are two invited guests. The first is a representative from Employment Ottawa who provides a form to be completed by all attendees. Someone will follow up with everyone to help identify potential employers, offer to help with writing resumes and provide tips for finding employment.

The second guest (which may be different every session) is a Health Food Inspector from Ottawa. This is when everyone has an opportunity to ask questions about regulations. One of the most popular is:

What needs to be done in order to open your own Cafe or a food related small business?

As Olga is only able to certify up to 30 people at one session - and as we had a very large number who applied - we offered the course on 5 Saturdays: February 17, March 2, 16, 30 and April 13. The first four that have already been held, were highly successful.

The Ukrainian Credit Union has generously provided space, free of charge, where we are holding the sessions and we are providing lunch, tea and coffee for everyone.

Attendees were happy to gain this certificate, which helps them to approach employers within the food industry - restaurants, retirement homes, any place where food needs to be prepared or served. This certificate is valid for 5 years after which a refresher course can be taken.

UCSS Ottawa is proud to have been able to offer this most important certification and we thank all of our volunteers who made it possible.

Jan 09, 2024

All first aid kits are sent to one good battalion with a very good combatant. It remained to assemble 150 more of them. Thank you for your help Saved the leg of one soldier with the help of a first aid kit from Maryna Popovych. It came in handy Greetings to our military medics from Canada from Marina Popovych. Already transferred.

And again, thank you so much!!! To everyone who sent us financial assistance, to everyone who brought medicines and first aid kits, etc. Today we took it to Toronto, and before that, our friends also took boxes there, and in the end we sent 12 huge boxes to Odessa, Zhytomyr, Berdyansk, Lvov, Kyiv, Chegerin. And three more suitcases to Kyiv and Lvov. Let this be our small contribution to a big cause!




Dec 27, 2023

The "Dreamers of Verkhovyna 2023" camp became a part of an incredible story that took place in the lives of the "Dreamers" International Charitable Foundation and 30 young participants from all over the country, whose parents bravely defend our state or became heroes in heaven...

This camp is a real manifestation of human sincerity and kindness. From the very beginning, we felt the support of caring hearts every day!

We thank our sponsors UCSS Ukrainian Canadian social services in Ottawa, The Council of Human Rights in Canada, St. Basil’s Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Winnipeg and Mykhaylo Khomitsky personally for the opportunity to heal the children of military personnel in the heart of the Carpathians!

Thank you to the Recreation Complex "Gherdan Verkhovyna" and Oleg Kornelyuk personally for creating incredible comfort and charitable help in organizing excursions, transport, parties and the Carpathian Basin! These emotions will remain incredible memories for all participants!

We thank the entire team of Olja Zvaruch, Olga Kolesnikova-Chmel@Karina Moskalenko, Yuliya Khomytska, as well as sincerely grateful Yulian Tymchuk and Yevgenia Tymchuk for constant prayer and spiritual support!

Thank you for your trust! With God's help and faith in the best, only forward! Your Team of Dreamers!!!

Dec 18, 2023

Children's dreams have come true!! This time Saint Nicholas came to the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Ottawa. The UCSS Community Service together with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine organized a great holiday.


Traditional fairy-tale heroes led the children on a real historical journey, supplemented by games and contests. Theatrical action took place according to the author's script of Tetyana Fomina. Fairytale characters were played by creative volunteers: Kira Khrustalova, Nikita Zakharchenko, Maxim Hlushchenko, Inna Fomina, Olesya Popovych.


The children received exclusive gifts, including candies from Ukrainian manufacturers, handmade gingerbread and a full table, where the family communication of parents, children and new friends continued.

Dec 15, 2023

On a most beautiful day in late September our team organized a bus trip to Park Omega for children who were not able to join Soniashnyk summer camp this past August, but were on the waiting list.

45 displaced Ukrainians (children with their mothers) entered the magic kingdom of Park Omega and had a blast. Not only with the power of nature’s beauty but an excursion to the nearby resort town of Montebello.

We managed to see all kinds of animals in the park up close, and fed a few elk and deer with carrots that we brought with us.

Mike kept us all informed and entertained - all day long! Thank you Mike for being our private tour-guide and engaging all of us in singing Ukrainian folk songs.

At the end of the day everyone went home tired and happy. It was a memorable experience leaving all with ever lasting memories

Park Omega differs from traditional zoos by their large and natural space of over 2,200 acres, inhabited by over twenty species of wild animals living in their natural habitat. The park shows the beauty and simplicity of nature while creating a natural and safe environment where wild animals can live peacefully. 

A special thank you to our Oksana who prepared enough food for the day, not only for the children and parents but all the deer in the park!




Oct 26, 2023

Sunflower Camp, now in its second year of operation, is a place where 35 displaced Ukrainian children can enjoy the peace and calm of nature while surrounded by others who have known the trauma and dislocation of war. Many are living without their fathers, who remain in Ukraine to fight or to work. Most are living with host families. Few are certain what the future will bring.

Organized by volunteers from the Ottawa branch of Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, and co-sponsored by the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, the camp is infused with Ukrainian culture - its food, language, art and music.

Camp director Michael Ryndzak says organizers have learned not to program too much into each day so that children can just be with each other while enjoying camp activities.

“We want to create a situation for them to bond, to meet one another, and have a chance to open up and relax,” he says. “We learned we don’t have to impose too many programs. Let nature do its trick. Let the kids be kids.”

A wide range of activities, including swimming, fishing, canoeing, sports and games, dancing, singing and drawing, helped the children build confidence, teamwork skills and develop a positive attitude towards life. Ukrainian Canadian Social Services Ottawa plans to develop more social events for Ukrainian children so that newly-formed friendships can continue to grow.

Aug 01, 2023

Sunflower Camp, now in its second year of operation, is a place where Ukrainian children can enjoy the peace and calm of nature while surrounded by others who have known the trauma and dislocation of war.

Organized by volunteers from the Ottawa branch of Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, and sponsored by the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, the camp is infused with Ukrainian culture - its food, language, art and music.


Camp director Michael Ryndzak says organizers have learned not to program too much into each day so that children can just be with each other while enjoying camp staples such as canoeing, swimming, hiking and bonfires.

“We want to create a situation for them to bond, to meet one another, and have a chance to open up and relax”, he says. “We learned we don’t have to impose too many programs. Let nature do its trick. Let the kids be kids.

Anna is one of 35 campers here; all of them are children displaced from their homes and their country by the war in Ukraine. Anna grew up in Hostomel, a small town 10 kilometres northwest of Kyiv, that was the scene of fierce fighting early in the war.

Her family managed to escape, and is now in Ottawa where Anna attends Pinecrest Public School. She misses her friends and teachers in Ukraine, along with the dogs and cats she knew there, but Sunflower Summer Camp has introduced her to new friends and different animals.

“My favourite thing to do here is to carry the frogs,” she says of her camp experience. “I like Canada’s birds and squirrels.”

Anna’s new friend, Yaryna, 9, who’s from Kharkiv, Ukraine, is partial to the camp’s sporting events. “I like swimming here and doing gymnastics,” she says. “And I want to do more canoeing.”


Eight-year-old Anna (left) and Yaryna, 9, have become fast friendswithin a day or two at the camp

Organizers face some unique challenges given the complexity of their campers’ lives. Many are living without their fathers, who remain in Ukraine to fight or to work. Most are living with with host families. Few are certain what the future will bring.

An Ottawa psychologist, Marina Yakovenko, is among the volunteer staff. She says many of the children are wound tight emotionally when they arrive at camp since they’ve lived with stress and uncertainty for so long. “None of these children have been prepared to face the psychological challenges of relocation because everything happened so fast,” Yakovenko says.

“Many are so lonely” she says “since their English is rudimentary, and most of their friends and relatives are still in Ukraine. At this camp we are trying to give them a glimpse of the childhood they have been deprived of.”


Mykyta Zakharchenko gives some campers a hand on a canoe trip.He is one of the young leaders at the camp who has been displaced byRussian occupation in Ukraine since he was six years old. He’s now on his own in Canada at the age of 17 and knowswhat many of these kids have seen.


Just the simple joys of camp. Young Vitali, 12, loves to swimand dives in every chance he gets.

The camp has 15 counsellors, a mix of adults and teenagers, many of whom also fled the war in Ukraine.

Yakovenko has twice fled the Russian invaders. Born and raised in Yalta, a city on the south coast of the Crimean Peninsula, she moved to Lviv after Russians occupied Crimea in 2014, then moved to Canada last year after the Russians invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Camp counsellor Kira Krustalova, 16, arrived in Ottawa with her family last May after leaving their home in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. She came to Canada by way of Moldova and France.“We didn’t know what was going to happen: where we are going, what is going to be, and how we’re going to be,” says Krustalova, who now attends Gatineau’s Philemon Wright High School.

Given her own experience, Krustalova understands what her campers are going through. “It’s very hard for them and we are trying to make them a little bit happy,” Krustalova says. “Many of them are still very shocked. We want to make them a little bit more open because many of them are closed. We know why, we know why. We want to open their hearts”.

“The camp’s emphasis on Ukrainian culture makes the children feel more comfortable”, she says, and makes it easier for them to form new friendships. Everyone speaks Ukrainian


A camp leader teaches the kids a flash mob dance that they’ll perform for their parentswhen they come on the last day of camp.

Camp counsellor Vlad Zhovtykha, 17, says he wants to help the children “forget about the world for one week”. Zhovtykha’s entire family remains in Kyiv, Ukraine. His mother and sisters came to Canada with him last year but, homesick, they have since returned. Zhovtykha stayed behind and plans to attend St. Patrick’s High School this fall.

Camp counsellor Mykyta Zakharchenko, 17 travelled alone to Canada from Cherkasy, Ukraine last year. “The only English I knew was, “My name’s Mykyta, I am tired, and I am hungry” he says.

Now a Grade 12 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute and a competitive rower, Zakharchenko wants to help his fellow Ukrainians adjust to their new world. “The thing I like about this camp is the calm, the safety,” he says “The kids can just be kids.”

After a successful launch last summer, the camp was over- subscribed this year with a waiting list of more than 20 children. Ryndzak says he hopes to develop more social events for Ukrainian children so that newly-formed friendships, like the one between Anna and Yaryna, can continue to grow.

Soniashnyk Camp Video 2023

Jun 01, 2023

With support of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada UCSS Ottawa participated in fundraising for the Canadian Recreational Summer Camp for the National displaced children of Ukraine traumatic by unjustifiable, genocidal war. We are specifically thankful to the British High Commission Ottawa for welcoming us at their residence.

All who still wish to make a donation for the cause please е-transfer directly to Sincere thank you for your understanding of the situation and your generosity.


Sincere thank you to the dear Madam Sandra Blaice and Catholic Women's Leagues of Limoges and their parish for assisting UCSS Ottawa with new close (pajamas, t-shirts, socks etc.) to the Ukrainian defenders of freedom, wounded soldiers of russian unprovoked and aggressive war.

Miraculously, 35 pounds container was delivered in 3 days to the Odessa Hospital, as there is a shortage of a new close to those with the imputations, recovering after the operations. May God bless all the contributes and their families. Just imagine how appreciative the people are receiving your support from Canada.

Sunflower cake

Feb 07, 2023

The Ottawa community celebrated the Festival of Carols and Shchedrivkas this Christmas with great pomp and grandeur. Various choirs and a children's group led by Mr. Oleksiy Fischuk greeted guests in the packed hall of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

However, it was the powerful performance by the student choir of the University of Ottawa under the direction of Maestro Laurentiy Ivashka that left the most profound impression on everyone What made their efforts truly remarkable was the fact that not a single performer of these famous Ukrainian carols spoke the Ukrainian language in their daily life. Rather, they were inspired by the enchanting melodies of the music they performed, and the audience was captivated by the sincere and genuine tone of their flawless performance.

The volunteers of the Ukrainian Social Services in our city treated guests to incredibly delicious treats, making the festival an even more memorable experience. Grateful thanks were extended to everyone who contributed to the organization and execution of this highly anticipated carol festival, especially to the esteemed Ms. Jane Colby. Our culture is rich and vibrant, and we are delighted to enrich the community in which we live with it.

We are also thankful to Rogers TV, who broadcasted the entire event on channel 22, allowing even more people to enjoy this wonderful celebration of music and culture.

Dec 18, 2022

In a heartwarming celebration, Saint Nicholas made a special appearance for the children of Ukraine in Ottawa. Each child not only received a gift, but also a boost of festive spirit that we will all carry into the Christmas season. The Ukrainian community expressed their gratitude to all who contributed to the event, including the Ukrainian Social Services, Ukrainian Orthodox Church, assistant angels, and Father Nicholas, as well as the Ottawa Ukrainian Women's League, the dear Mrs. Merlin Thomas, Toy Mountain, and the philanthropist Hlystyne Robillard. The event brought joy and happiness to the children, providing them with memories they will cherish for years to come. It is a testament to the power of community and the spirit of giving, especially during the holiday season.


Dec 18, 2022

Honoured Madam Thomas in cooperation with Toy Mountain delivered hundreds of toys to help St. Nicholas creating cheerful smile and to ensure that each Ukrainian child, effected by war, receive a present for Christmas. Our greatest appreciation goes to you a wonderful people with kindest hearts. It is truly inspiring and great example to follow.

Dec 11, 2022

Participants of the Ukrainian Community Service in Ottawa gifted the renowned VIP Ternopil band with a t-shirt adorned with slogans of victory and well-wishes for peace in Ukraine. On this occasion, all funds collected from donations at the Ukrainian Dance School concert, totalling $500, were also donated to the support fund for our beloved guests.

Nov 26, 2022

In Ukrainian Vyshyvanka - will, struggle and victory. There is an indomitable spirit, devoted love for the land where he was born, where his mother sang you songs. It has home comfort, golden fields and the bottomless blue of the sky. All this is coded, sewn in Ukrainian embroidered cloth, in towels decorated with ornaments, which are hung above the images, placed under the holy bread and under the feet of the newlyweds at the wedding.

I want to share this wealth with others. That is why the charitable 'Embroidery Evening' held in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on November 26 became a real holiday not only for the community, but also for Canadians who were interested in learning about the history of Ukrainian embroidery, its diversity and sacred significance for national culture. And there was really a lot to see there! Unique collections of amazing art from all corners of Ukraine, made in various techniques and colors, impressed the visitors the most.

The light blue Volyn patterns were created by the careful hands of Mrs. Anna Chaykivska from Ottawa. The craftswoman is 103 years old and keeps a sincere love for her relics in her heart. Embroidered shirts in the Borshchiv style from the Ternopil region, provided by Mrs. Lyuba Paterson, breathe history and warmth, as if each has its own living soul. Vintage towels of Mrs. Angelina Reshitnyk made of home-woven fabric and unique sewing are priceless relics that are more than a hundred years old.

A skillful craftswoman, in love with her work, Hrystia Momryk held master classes for guests and demonstrated various techniques of the ancient art of embroidery. Ms. Rosalia Fedak provided a priceless collection of women's shirts embroidered with lace and decorated with unique ornaments for the exhibition. Vyshyvanka is also a modern weapon in a terrible, hellish war. This is exactly what the visitors saw in the painting, where the girl puts blood-red and ominous black threads on the canvas. In her sad, but unconquered eyes, there is calm determination.

The poignant picture of Olga Nazarkina, an artist with a big heart and delicate taste, is a symbol of a new page in world history, which is being written right now with the blood of Ukrainians. No one was left indifferent by a children's drawing, where Ukraine is stitched together from scraps of individual lives. It was painted by young immigrants at a summer camp created by the UCSS charity. Everyone left something private there. In it - pain and despair, longing for home, but even more - strength and determination, hope and love.

Yes, it was the hope for recovery and sincere childlike love for life that drove the organizers of the evening. The host of the evening was the outstanding entertainer Mykhailo Ryndzak. The Cantabile Duet (Mikhail Rykov and Vlada Shametska) and the Bibik Duet (Natalia Bibik and Anna Bakhcheeva) created a wonderful chamber atmosphere at the beginning of the event. Instrumental classical music and arrangements of modern Ukrainian works were played on the stage. The duet The Sharms (Olga Kirchanova and Yurii Saidmambyetov) performed musical covers of modern Ukrainian pop music.

And when it became noisy and cheerful, as if relatives had gathered for a feast, of course the song flowed. Opera baritone Oleksiy Fishchuk made everyone freeze for a second, because his voice penetrates through. And 'Red Viburnum', performed with his son, Orest Fyschuk, was met with enthusiasm, pride and loud applause. But it is not accepted among Ukrainians to only sing, without a fiery dance. The 'Svitanok' ensemble helped here, combining lyricism, beauty and Cossack character in a tank.

At the end of the program, pieces from the operas of S. Gulak-Artemovsky 'Zaporozhets za Danube' and D. Verdi's 'La Traviata' were performed. But what is a feast without dumplings, pies, sausages, lard with black bread and other snacks? Everything that was prepared by the careful hands of kitchen volunteers tasted flawless and Ukrainian. November 26 is also a day when the whole world honors Ukrainians innocently tortured during the Holodomor.

Everyone present remembered those terrible times with a moment of silence, a memorial candle near the golden ear of corn, and a prayer for each lost soul. The times when they once again tried to exterminate us as a nation, as a single original people. Decades have passed, and that terrible enemy is once again sowing death and suffering, killing our children and destroying homes. And only together we will overcome the darkness and Horde hordes, which have already driven us from our holy land more than once.

And let's get dressed again in embroidered clothes - the clothes of free and brave people. We will once again invite everyone who cares to visit us to bow down and thank us for our help. In the meantime, we must hold fast to each other and do a common thing. Until victory! Everything will be Ukraine!





Nov 17, 2022

Toy Mountain supports families who have fled the war in Ukraine. CTV's Dave Charbonneau reports.

CTV News

Aug 31, 2022

On the eve of the start of the school year, the Ukrainian Canadian Social Services decided to launch an initiative to help children prepare for school. Children had the opportunity to receive a backpack with everything necessary for the start of the academic year.

Aug 31, 2022

For many Ukrainians, volunteering has become a way of life since 2014. For Ukrainian-Canadians, it has always been a good habit. And for my relatives, Aunt Tamara and Uncle Ivan, it's just a constant need. They live by the principle: wake up and ask yourself what you have done for Ukraine and Ukrainians today? So when the opportunity arose to organize a dragon boat event for newly arrived children, they left everything and enthusiastically set out to realize this wonderful idea. And in place of a dull, cold morning, a sunny and bright day with new unforgettable emotions arrived. Some took an oar in their hands for the first time, while others had recent experience with rowing in a summer camp. But everyone wanted to catch the rhythm of the dragon boat and feel each other! My wonderful Tamara Rudenko-Kharalambi and Ivan Kharalambi (who, by the way, is a professional athlete and Olympian) helped with this the most. Also joining the team of coaches was Oleksiy Morgun, the head of the junior commission of the EDBF. With such mentors, not only children but also parents got into the boats. And it's still not clear who enjoyed it more). We all rowed diligently, so the ordered pizza and sweets (thanks to Maryna Popovych and Mykhailo and Natalia Ryndzaki) tasted very, very good!!! And for a moment, it seemed like we were back at summer camp and it was time to prepare something for the kids' dinner))

Aug 01, 2022

Michael Ryndzak hopes to provide the same experience to other children affected by the war after seeing how the camp shaped the children who celebrated what they had despite what they had lost. A group of Ukrainian children displaced by war were able to play, sing and dance at a local summer camp thanks to contributions from the Ottawa community, its organizer said. Michael Ryndzak, who in May issued a plea for support to help repair and maintain an aging summer camp in the Outaouais hills which has served local Ukrainians...

Jun 23, 2022

The Marathon from Chicago to Montreal, Via: London Ontario, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, and Ottawa. This is a jubilee - the 10th Anniversary of the Freedom Charity Run. All funds, raised this year, will be donated to help children who have suffered because of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The event was well supported by the representatives of the embassies of Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Ukraine as well as the mayor’s office of the City of Ottawa. UCSS is very thankful to all the organizers and participants for such an enormous effort raising awareness of survival issue of the genocidal war against Ukrainians and the greatest generous contribution from the Lions Club to the “Sunflower” summer camp for children from Ukraine. With your support we are destined for success. From all our volunteers - sincere, thank you LIONS!

Thank you so much Nectar Flowers Ottawa for providing us with such wonderful bouquets!

Jun 22, 2022

CTV's Jackie Perez with the Ukrainian Canadians making harmonious efforts to raise funds with a concert at Lansdowne Park.

Jun 03, 2022

Today we were doing a fundraizer for the "Sunflower" Summer Camp for displaced children from Ukraine. Thank you everyone who helped us to organize such event. Special thanks for coffee to Duke Fine Food, Buzzing Carnaval and many volunteers!

Apr 09, 2022

On Sunday, April 10, the Ukrainian Bazar was held at the Ukrainian Catholic Shrine of St. John the Baptist. All proceeds from the event will go to a summer camp for displaced children from Ukraine.