About the film – and Bill

Behind the film: The past 5 years:

Bill (right) with his mother & siblings, Potochysche, Ukraine

Starting some time in 2012, Oksana began thinking about, and doing research for a documentary concerning the Sudbury Ukrainian community in which she grew up, but over the next couple of years, never came up with a “hook”, or central story theme. After considering interweaving her parents’ stories into the documentary, she decided on a documentary about her father’s life – a man widely remembered, and whose life indeed was full of stories.

So, we began work on Bill’s documentary in early 2015. The result premiered in September, 2017.

Introducing the first screening

We had our premiere screening on Sept. 12, 2017 at the Spadina Theatre at the Alliance Française in Toronto. Sonia Holiad gave a wonderful introduction to the film:


About Bill – and the documentary:

Bill’s (Polish) passport on leaving Ukraine, 1928

Bill came to Canada in 1928, “with $5, a grade 3 education and a powerful zest for life,” and became one of the most dedicated and best remembered activists in Sudbury’s Ukrainian-Canadian community.

We’ve used archival video, audio, photos and newspaper stories – including a radio interview where he talks about his early life in his village of Potochysche, and his arrival in Canada. There is also video of him reciting Ivan Franko, and interviews with many who remember him. We hope the film captures the energy and commitment that earned him the nickname “Action Bill”.

The “Chapters” in the film attempt to tell his story, and answer some questions: How did a child from the small village of Potochsyche in Western Ukraine later mingle with the business and political leaders of Sudbury? How did a welder at Inco eventually establish an endowment, named after Ivan Franko, in Ukrainian folklore at the University of Alberta?

The “Verses” in the film are those of Ivan Franko: the poet and writer whose words and philosophy greatly influenced his life and outlook. No event in the Sudbury Ukrainian community – from births to deaths, in halls and homes – was complete without his reciting, from memory, an appropriate Franko poem. One poem (“A Parable About Life”) that was particularly important to him is interwoven into the narrative of the film and of his life.

In addition to poetry, Wasyl had a life-long passion for promoting many other aspects of Ukrainian culture. A self-taught musician on numerous instruments, he was well-known for his mandolin classes, teaching both children and adults to play Ukrainian folk music. He also played cello in the first Sudbury Symphony Orchestra.

Reciting Ivan Franko, 1988

He was famous for his tireless efforts to support the Ukrainian community, especially the Ukrainian National Federation and associated organizations.  He helped found the Sudbury branch of the UNF, along with the Sudbury Ukrainian Credit Union and Food Co-op. He became perhaps the leading seller of advertisements for the national Ukrainian-Canadian newspaper, New Pathway and sold endless fund-raising lottery tickets.

But he was also passionate about Canada, and believed in contributing to the country that gave him a home. He was well-known by all Sudbury-area politicians. The film includes a tribute that members of Sudbury Regional Council gave him prior to his leaving Sudbury. The Chamber of Commerce granted him an honourary membership for the huge number of new members he recruited when their numbers were dwindling.

For more about Bill, and his wife, Anna, see this page.

We hope you can join us at one of the screenings this fall.