The fourth John Sopinka Award for Excellence has been awarded to Roman Didenko, a fourth year student of history at Luhansk Pedagogical Institute, Luhansk, Ukraine.
Established in 1988, the Award is named for Mr. Justice John Sopinka of the Supreme Court of Canada. The Award was established by the Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation of Toronto.
Roman Didenko was born in Poltava and is the first student from a Ukrainian university to receive the Sopinka Award.The awarding of the scholarship to Roman Didenko has made it possible for him to take up a full year Residency at the Centre for Conflict Resolution of Saint Paul University, in Ottawa. During his residency, Roman will be trained to become a teacher/instructor of conflict resolution and after his return to Ukraine in 1997, he will complete his degree at Luhansk Pedagogical Institute and then begin training Ukrainian students in conflict resolution.
Jodi Leforte, of the United States Peace Corps wrote one of the letters of recommendation for Roman, as follows: "As his professor, I am impressed by his inquisitiveness and well-developed opinions. I instruct him in English and I am overjoyed by his eloquent usage of the that language. Not many people are capable of making their opinions and beliefs understood in a foreign language. Ukraine needs a leader like Roman, who leads not for his own self interest, but for the interests of the people".
Previous John Sopinka Scholarship recipients include Professor Lubomyr Luciuk formerly of Queen's University, Professor Bohdan Kordan of the University of Saskatchewan, Orest Babij, a graduate of Royal Military College, now at Oxford University.
Roman Didenko's professors at Luhansk Pedagogical Institute and his American professors recommended Didenko for the 1996 Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Program for university students from Ukraine. Program Director, Ihor Bardyn, speaking about Roman Didenko said, "It is students and youth of Ukraine who can act as the catalyst to turn Ukraine into a democratic and civil society. Vaclav Havel, the Czech President, wrote that 'the key to former communist countries' passage to democracy is the creation of a "civil society" in which the rule of law checks the human impulse to act out fantasies of hatred. Democracy, Havel points out, is not enough'. The ability of Ukraine's students to study and retain what they have learned from Western democratic and civil societies, is a key link in the transformation of former communist countries to democratic and civil societies."
John Sopinka scholarship is available to CUPP participants only.