Theft of commemorative brass plaque doesn't spoil Ukrainian New Year's celebration

Ukrainian New Year celebrations were a little less happy at the Ukrainian Labour Temple this year after thieves made off with the hall’s brass plaque designating it as a national historic site.

Plaque the 2nd recently stolen in the area, say police

Police are investigating after a brass plaque was stolen from in front of the Ukrainian Labour Temple sometime Friday night or Saturday morning. It's the second such theft in the area recently. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

Ukrainian New Year celebrations were a little less happy at the Ukrainian Labour Temple this year after thieves made off with the hall's brass plaque designating it as a national historic site.

Temple president Glenn Michalchuk says the plaque went missing sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, leading up to Saturday's night's Malanka celebrations for New Year's Eve on the Julian calendar.

"It's really disappointing, it really did hurt people's feelings," said Michalchuk of the theft.

"These are part of the cultural significance of our city and the contributions our city has made to history."

The Pritchard Avenue building, which opened in 1919, was named as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2008 and Parks Canada installed the plaque at the hall to mark the designation.

Michalchuk said the solid brass plaque is roughly two feet by three feet and was bolted onto a stand near the temple's front doors.

He said it would not have been an easy thing to steal.

"It would take more than one person to move, it's a very heavy plaque," he said.

"It would have been a difficult operation."

The temple's plaque isn't the only one that's gone missing in the area recently.

 Police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray confirmed a plaque for James Shaver Woodsworth was stolen on Stella Avenue a few days before.

Melted down for cash?

Michalchuk figures the thieves will try to sell the metal for cash.

"It would probably have some significant value if someone was able to break it up and melt it down," he said.

"For a city that sometimes struggles in terms of its image, to have things like this, which are really petty for the amount of money that someone would be able to extract by selling the plaque for some scrap metal, it's really disappointing."

Winnipeg police are investigating both thefts.

Murray says metal theft is nothing new in Winnipeg and encourages anyone who has metal stolen to report it as soon as possible.

The hall's New Year's Eve Malanka celebration went off with out a hitch despite the theft, says Michalchuk. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

"Doing so helps ensure officers are able to track or determine the owner of metal they may come across during the stop of an individual/vehicle or during an investigation," he said in an email Sunday.  "We also use those reports to help us identify crime trends.

"And of course — if anyone recognizes suspicious metal (such as the plaques that were stolen), we ask that they contact us immediately."

Michalchuk says despite the theft, the hall's New Year's Eve Malanka party Saturday night went off without a hitch.

"Life goes on and people soon got in the spirit of celebrating New Year's," he said.

"It was a really nice celebration, but we really want to have the plaque replaced there because of its importance to the hall and to the community really."

The plaque was bolted to a stand near the hall's front doors. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)