R. Dennis Moore (Archivist, Multicultural History Society of Ontario) - Ontario Heritage Trust

R. Dennis Moore (Archivist, Multicultural History Society of Ontario), Toronto

This badge belonged to Bohdan Panchuk, one of the most influential Canadians involved in the effort to resettle thousands of Ukrainians who were displaced by the Second World War.

By the end of the conflict, countless refugees had been forcibly displaced from their homes and faced uncertain futures. For some, everything that they had known was destroyed, leaving them with nowhere to turn. Others were unable to return to their homes for fear of persecution by the regimes installed by the Soviet Union. Camps were established throughout Europe to provide relief to these displaced persons (DPs) while the details of their permanent resettlement were determined by a variety of nations and humanitarian organizations.

Bohdan Panchuk was an active leader of numerous committees and associations devoted to providing safety, security, and stability to the Ukrainians living in the DP camps. He spent eleven years and much of his life savings (having never charged a fee for his labours) on his mission to rescue his fellow Ukrainians from the devastation of post-war Europe.

At a glance, Panchuk’s story does not seem relevant to Ontario’s history. He was born and raised in Saskatchewan and spent most of his career working in Montreal and Great Britain on behalf of Ukrainian refugees and Canadian Ukrainian organizations. However, it was through his efforts, and those of the various organisations he participated in, that thousands of Ukrainians were resettled in Ontario, where they were able to forge new Canadian identities. Without his dedicated service, the socio-cultural composition of Ontario would be that much poorer, lacking the influx of new perspectives and ideas that the displaced Ukrainians brought into our provincial community.

Ultimately, this badge, and by extension the entirety of Bohdan Panchuk’s personal story, serves as a reminder of how everything is interconnected and how seemingly unrelated historical events can have the most surprising and positive outcomes.