John Yaremko
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JOHN YAREMKO, B.A., Q.C., LLD., Dr.rer.Pol. Peacefully in his sleep, three days short of his 92nd birthday at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre, Toronto. Predeceased by his wife Mary and parents George and Mary Yaremko. He is survived by brothers and sisters Anne Holota, Fred Yaremko, Lucy Migus, Jeanette Cooke, Robert Yaremko and Rosalie Yaremko. He is predeceased by siblings Mene, Michael, Lena Hish and Peter and in-laws Bob Cooke, Dennis Holota, Ronald Migus and Frances Yaremko. He is survived by many nieces and nephews. Special thanks to Guardian Angels Rose and Bill Sametz, as well as niece Hélène Yaremko-Jarvis and Gary Jarvis. Born in Welland, Ontario in a family of immigrants from Ukraine. He put himself through school while working on farms and the Steel Company of Canada during summer months and nights while attending the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. Was awarded scholarships for excellence while at university and became a Gold Medalist at Osgoode Hall. Began political career in 1951 when elected to Ontario's Provincial Parliament as first Canadian of Ukrainian ancestry to be elected in Eastern Canada. Served in Parliament for twenty-five years - longer than anyone in the history of Ontario. In 1958, was appointed youngest Cabinet Minister and served in seven Ministries in the administrations of Premiers Leslie Frost, John Robarts and Bill Davis. Upon his retirement in 1975, the Toronto Star newspaper wrote of John Yaremko: 'His career exhibited a distinct concern for social justice, as Minister responsible for legislation which improved the lot of persons with physical or developmental disabilities, the aged, the poor, and ethnic and cultural minorities.' In 1945, he married Myroslava (Mary) Materyn of Montreal. Together they began to assemble one of the earliest collections of Canadiana including furniture, artefacts and early Canadian Glass, some of which is on display at the University of Toronto Library and the Royal Ontario Museum. He was supportive of many community undertakings including the 'John Yaremko Centre for Community Living' at Bellwoods Centre for Community Living in Toronto, one of the foremost residential facilities for persons with physical disabilities in North America. Throughout his life he supported the aspirations of all of Canada's ethno-cultural groups and maintained that public offices, including the judiciary, should be open to everyone. Recognized by many Canadian groups, he was awarded the Latvian Medal Pro Merito; the Freedom for Hungary Medal; Life Membership in the Polish Alliance of Canada; Honourary Life Member of the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association of Toronto, the Pisticci Club of Toronto, the Abruzzi Club of Toronto; Honourary Member of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters Association of Canada; Honourary Member of the Toronto Greek Community's Canadian Arcadian Association; and recipient of the Metropolia Award on the 75th Anniversary of St. Volodymyr Cathedral in Toronto. In 1981, he was a Founding Member of the University of Toronto Chair of Ukrainian Studies Foundation. He supported the establishment of the Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Internship Program for university students from Ukraine in the House of Commons and the Ontario Legislature. A proud graduate of the University of Toronto, he supported Canada's and Ukraine's universities by establishing the John Yaremko Scholarship at Wilfrid Laurier University, the John Yaremko Scholarship at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, and the John and Mary Yaremko Program in Multiculturalism and Human Rights at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and the Multicultural Heritage Lecture Series at the University of Toronto. He assisted the Ukrainian language program at York University and established the Canadian Visiting Scholars Lectureship Program at Kyiv-Mohyla University, University of Lviv, Ostroh University and Kamianets-Podilskyi University in Ukraine. For his community work in Canada he was awarded the Order of St. Andrew and for his support of democratic governance in Ukraine, the President's Medal. In 2009, he received the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism which was established by Citizenship and Immigration Canada to recognize individuals from communities across Canada who have achieved excellence in promoting multiculturalism so that all citizens can take pride in their ancestry and have a sense of belonging to Canada. The last recognition for the support of his Alma Mater was the establishment of the John Yaremko Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toront O. The Yaremko Chair will be officially inaugurated in September, 2010 in what would have been the 92nd Autumn of John Yaremko's life. Family and friends will be received at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral (406 Bathurst Street) on Monday, August 9, 2010, from 5-9 p.m. Orthodox Right of Funeral will be held on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 10 a.m. commencing at Cardinal Funeral Homes (366 Bathurst Street) at 9:30 a.m. Mr. Yaremko will be laid to rest in St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Cemetery, Oakville. Online condolences can be made at In lieu of flowers a donation to the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre, 60 Richview Road, Toronto M9A 5E4 would be pleasing. Vichnaya Pamiat - Always Remembered.

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Published in Toronto Star on Aug. 9, 2010.
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Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
August 24, 2010
My husband and I came to know Mr. Yaremko when he was at the Ukrainian Canadian Care Centre where my mother and aunt are also residents. We accompanied them on a trip to the ROM for the Ukrainian Trypillian exhibit, which he found fascinating. Traveling on the UCCC bus, he was amused when I told him that he had signed my birth certificate issued in 1972, as the Registrar General of Ontario. As a graduate student at University of Toronto's Victoria College who served as a residence don at Annesley Hall, I remember walking past the neighbouring building -- The Gardiner Museum -- and seeing The John and Sophie Yaremko Ceramic Collection listed on the sign outside the museum and feeling a sense of pride in also being Ukrainian Canadian.

Most often, in recent years, he could be found reading in the UCCC library. We would chat about his experiences, also being among the first in his family to complete university in Canada. He was a humble man, who never boasted of his many accomplishments; that said, one of the things of which he was most proud was the fact that while a member of the Ontario legislature, he was a strong advocate of ethnically focused seniors' care facilities. "Imagine," he said in mid-2009, "that I am now one of the beneficiaries of that initiative!"

On behalf of my mother, aunt and family, I would like to extend sincere sympathies to the family of Mr. Yaremko. His wonderful spirit and his legacy of support for culture, arts and education lives on. And he has set a high bar for current and future generations of Ukrainian Canadians to continue the tradition of service and philanthropy to social and cultural institutions in Toronto, Ontario and Canada.
Marianne Fedunkiw, PhD
August 10, 2010
On behalf of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada please accept our sincere condolences upon the loss of Mr. John Yaremko, Former Cabinet Minister, the longest serving member of the Ontario legislature and the first recipient in 2009 of the Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism. We feel profound grief together with his friends and family.

John Yaremko was an outstanding Ukrainian Canadian. He exemplified the fact that by hard work, perseverance and dedication, every Canadian, regardless of ethnicity, could reach the highest levels of civic and professional life. Ukrainian people here in Canada and in the world have lost a great leader whose love of his heritage can serve as examples to all of them.

We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of John Yaremko. May the memory of John Yaremko in our hearts forever.

Dr. Ihor Ostash,
Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada
Ihor Ostash
August 9, 2010
Ministers of Social Services from all three parties, Silipo, Yaremko, and Pupatello
John Yaremko was an extremely influential social services Minister in the later 1960's and early 1970's. I have a wonderful interview with him from 2005 which may now be shared.
John Stapleton
August 9, 2010
John was a great influence in multicultural Ontario serving many communities as a public official and as a private citizen. He was also a generous human being and will be missed by many. He and my father and mother, Sam & Grace Sorbara, were close friends of John and Mary for many years. My father spoke to me often of their friendshipand his admiration for both John and Mary. John is now joined in the spiritual hereafter with all who knew and loved him and left this world before him. May he rest in peace.
Joseph Sorbara
Joseph Sorbara
August 9, 2010
John Yaremko was a truly great Canadian, renowned for his intellect, integrity, sense of social justice, and generosity. The John Yaremko Chair in Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto will be inaugurated this fall at his Alma Mater. The Chair will keep alive in perpetuity Mr Yaremko's legacy of leadership in the Ukrainian-Canadian community. That legacy, moreover, will endure in many other institutions that he touched, and in the memories of many who were inspired by his lifetime of public service and good works. On behalf of the University of Toronto, I send our condolences to Mr Yaremko's family.


David Naylor,
The University of Toronto
David Naylor
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