Biography

Early Life in Saskatchewan

The Yuzyk family in Saskatoon -1931

Paul Yuzyk was born of Ukrainian pioneer settlers on June 24,1913 in Pinto, Saskatchewan, near Estevan. His father was a coal miner who came to Canada in 1904. Later the family moved to Saskatoon where the elder Yuzyk worked in a flour mill.

Paul received most of his education in Saskatoon, where he completed public school and graduated with high marks from the Bedford Road Collegiate Institute in 1932. In high school he played on the following teams: hockey, basketball, rugby (football), and softball and was a member of the sprinting team running the 100,220 and 440 yard dash as well as the one-mile marathon. Academically an outstanding student he received 100% on the final exam in Grade 11 mathematics and physics.

Paul Yuzyk as a student in the Saskatoon Normal School (Teachers' Training College) 1932/33. He was captain of the men's soccer team and coach of the girls' basketball team. (All the girls were taller than he.) He also acted the role of Brutus in Shakespeare's drama "Julius Caesar". Forty-five years ago, as people in his native Saskatchewan struggled under the twin blows of drought and economic depression, young Paul Yuzyk discovered he had been given an additional handicap in earning a living.

The warning was delivered brutally. Although he had graduated as a qualified teacher, he would not be considered for a position in any of the many English-speaking communities that had advertised vacancies. He was a "foreigner", local school officials told him flatly, and he could not be trusted with the future of their children.

He made 77 applications and was rejected by all. He went personally to seek some of the vacant positions and it was then that he was told by the officials that they did not want him to "contaminate" their children. He then sought and secured a teaching position in a Ukrainian community near Hafford, Saskatchewan.

There he taught regular classes, gave after-school lessons in Ukrainian and participated in the cultural life of the community. This experience was to turn him down a different road, which subsequently led to a respected academic career, a prized role in the shaping of Canada's cultural character and a seat in the Senate.

Paul Yuzyk's first school (Langley)
near Hafford, Saskatchewan.1934

"They really did things like that. We were being called bohunks and foreigners. The result was to strengthen my Ukrainianism. I said to myself that if they called me a foreigner when I had been born in Canada, it meant Canada needed some changing."

In 1939, Paul Yuzyk directed the UNYF orchestra and choir in Redberry, Saskatchewan.

At an open air concert in honour of the great Ukrainian writer Ivan Franko in May, 1939, the instruments of the orchestra section of the choir were left in the near-by Ukrainian hall. Just prior to the concert, the hall "mysteriously" burst out in flames destroying all the instruments including his stradivarius violin. Accused of being negligent with the instruments, he gave up his musical career and turned to academics and prospective diplomatic work.

On July 12,1941, Paul Yuzyk and Mary Bahniuk
were married in Hafford, Saskatchewan. They had a
traditional Ukrainian weddiing

Statements are often made that, in every great man's life, there is a great woman - usually a loving wife. Such a person is Senator Yuzyk's wife, Mary. Through her help, understanding, strength, courage and inspiration, Paul Yuzyk reached the top rung of the ladder of success.

There were many difficult years that followed their marriage. The Yuzyks were faced with the task of raising a growing family on a teacher's and later a lecturer's salary. However, Mary Yuzyk, always practical, energetic and versatile was an ideal wife, homemaker and mother. Among many other things, she did Ukrainian cross-stitch work and made beautiful eggs (pysanky) in authentic, intricate and colourful designs. These were often sold to supplement the family income while her husband was still in university. She gave talks and demonstrated this very fascinating Ukrainian art at various organizations and clubs.

Academic Career

While attending the University of Saskatchewan in 1942, Paul Yuzyk vohnteered to serve in the Canadian Army. He was trained in reconnaisance in Regina and Dundurn where he completed non-commissioned officers school. He continued training officers in reconnaisance and in 1944 was discharged to return to the University to complete his science degree.

 

Appointment to the Senate of Canada



Senator Paul Yuzyk and his wife, Mary, speaking with Prime Minister P.E. Trudeau,
after he announced the policy of multiculturalism at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress
in Winipeg, October 9,1971

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Public Life and Contributions

Senator Yuzyk worked with many ethnic groups, supporting their cultural endeavours and promoting their interests.  

Senator Yuzyk receives a souvenir after addressing the Lithuanian
group in Ottawa at the National Library in 1975.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Yuzyk was active in various organizations serving in various capacities.

At the 25th Anniversary of the National Library of Canada, June 28, 1978, viewing
the newest electronic retrieval computers. Left to right: Governor General Jules Leger,
Secretary of State John Roberts, Dr. Guy Sylvestre, National Librarian
and Senator Paul Yuzyk. (Seated, middle: Mrs. Leger.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1972 Senator Yuzyk intensified his activities in the North Atlantic Assembly (NATO) particularly in the Committee on Education, Cultural Affairs and Information.

North Atlantic Assembly of NATO, Bonn, Germany, Nov. 20-24, 1978.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1977 he was unanimously elected rapporteur of the Sub-Committee on the Free Flow of Information and People for 4 years where he is devoting his efforts to the implementation of the human rights provisions of the Helinki Accords by the Soviet Union and the Satellite countries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His presence twice as Canadian Parliamentary Observer at the Belgrade Conference helped to exert continuous pressure on the Soviet Bloc countries to live up to tne declaration wnich they signed. He also fought for this cause in his capacity as chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians and as vice-chairman of the Canadian Parliamentary Helsinki Group.

Service to the Ukrainian Community

Yuzyk's work as Supreme Director for Canada of the Ukrainian National Association, a fraternal insurance society, supported the publication of Ukraine: A concise Encyclopaedia, University of Toronto Press; cultural activities at the summer resort, Soyuzivka; the building of the 15 storey skyscraper housing the head-offices of the UNA, the Ukrainian daily "Svoboda" and its English Weekly; the expansion of the UNA in Canada, (now the largest Ukrainian fraternal organization) assistance to needy students; publishing books; aid to victims of floods, earthquakes etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Paul Yuzyk's legacy was always to look ahead to new ventures, new horizons and new achievements to improve the quality of life and bring increasing happiness to Canadians of all origins.