Longtime volunteer Marj Bodnarchuk surprised to be named 2022 Citizen of the Year

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Marj Bodnarchuk was surprised when she came for a photo opportunity at the Prince Albert Science Centre when she was named 2022 Citizen of the Year on Monday.

What was supposed to be a photo opportunity and cheque presentation at the Prince Albert Science Centre on Monday turned into a surprise for longtime Prince Albert volunteer Marj Bodnarchuk.

Bodnarchuk was named Prince Albert’s 2022 Citizen of the Year 2022 on Monday. She was surprised to find representatives from the Prince Albert Kinsmen, Daily Herald, Prince Albert Science Centre, Veselka Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Club, as well as friends and well-wishers waiting for her.

“This wasn’t all about me. I was coming to a different event entirely,” Bodnarchuk said,

“I know that all of my friends are really, really smart so I think that they are capable of anything and they proved it,” she said of the efforts to get her to the surprise.

Her friend from the Science Centre board Jan Olesko made sure that Bodnarchuk was not early as is her custom so the surprise could be completed.

“I was thinking we were going to be getting our pictures with some representatives from Paper Excellence and the donation they are making to the Science Centre, and I’m all excited about that because I’m a volunteer on the board of the Science Centre,” Bodnarchuk said.

In her acceptance speech, Bodnarchuk recognized the importance of the community working together, whether it’s on a project like the science centre or a community group like Veselka.

“If we work together for really good things we can just conquer anything and everything there is imaginable,” she said. “We can do so much and with this community nobody should take a back seat. Everybody is just so willing to work hard. It’s just a wonderful place to be and work and live.”

Bodnarchuk’s volunteering stretches across a wide variety of cultural and community organizations. She said volunteering with groups like Veselka are fun ways to give back.

Her volunteering stretches from cultural organizations to music and science.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Prince Albert Daily Herald marketing manager Erin Bergen, publisher Donna Pfeil, 2022 Citizen of the Year Marj Bodnarchuk, Prince Albert Kinsmen member Wes Moore and President Jean-Marc Belliveau at the surprise announcement of Bodnarchuk as Citizen of the Year at the Prince Albert Science Centre on Monday.

“I enjoy time with the Veselka organization and we do wonderful cultural events,” she said. “We run a wonderful booth at the Exhibition and make great borscht and bread and perogies and all of that.”’

She also passed her talents in music onto the community in various ways. She volunteers to sing and play music in nursing homes, and also performs with her local church choir at Calvary United.

“We do lots of very fun events there and we have a great choir,” she said. “I joined the choir so we get to do a little bit of extra music there at the end of months. Those are some of the things I enjoy doing. Besides that I love spending time with family and doing lots of gardening, (and) I love to bake and sew.”

Bodnarchuk is also fluent in Ukrainian. She sings in the language, and acts as a translator for Ukrainian newcomers.

“It’s so good to see them coming. It’s really wonderful to see,” she said.

Olga Karasiuk nominated Bodnarchuk. Karasiuk said she’s proud of all the work Bodnarchuk does in the community.

“She does such wonderful work for our city,” Karasiuk explained. “We are so proud of her and she never says no to anything.”

Karasiuk also commended Bodnarchuk for her musical talent. The two met at the Prince Albert Polkafest where Bodnarchuk was a volunteer.

“She did such a good job there and of course I am a neighbour to her daughter and I just heard so many good things bout her work with other organizations,” Karasiuk explained. “I thought ‘well I think it’s about time that she was nominated for Citizen of the Year.’

“She’s just a wonderful person, she never never says no to anybody.”

Plans are currently under way for a banquet to honour Bodnarchuk by the end of May, but a final date hasn’t been set.

The Citizen of the Year Award has been handed out every year since 1958. Winners are chosen by a committee that includes members of the Prince Albert Kinsmen Club and Prince Albert Daily Herald.

Recent Citizen of the Year winners:

2021- Marie Mathers

2020 – Margaret Ferguson

2019 – Janet Carriere

2018 – Felix Casavant and Derek Smith

2017 – Ron and Shelley Horn

2016 – Sheryl Kimbley

2015 – Duane Hayunga