46th Annual Shchedry Vechir a Welcome Tradition in Edmonton

Unatstvo CYM performing. Credits: Lida Wasylyn

Lidia M. Wasylyn, Board Member, League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Edmonton Branch.

The 46th Annual Shchedry Vechir Celebration hosted by the Board of Director’s of Edmonton’s Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex was held on Friday, January 18, 2019. This year the event brought out over 300 guests who braved cold and snowy winter weather to partake in one of the last traditional holy feasts of the Ukrainian Christmas cycle.

Bishop David & Father Tarasenko

The ceremonial entrance of the Didukh began the program. The current president of the Board of Directors, Irene Kolomijchuk, carried in the Didukh and positioned it in a place of honour on a traditionally adorned table. In her brief remarks, she noted that this event is a solid tradition in our community and unites several generations in celebrating as one large family and one community, uniting our spirituality and our hearts. She used the opportunity to acknowledge the presence of some special guests including the newly arrived Consul General of Ukraine in Edmonton Oleksandr Danyleiko and Mrs. Danyleiko, Olesia Luciw-Andryjowycz, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Alberta Provincial Council, Orysia Boychuk, President of the Edmonton Chapter of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Bill Shostak, President of Ukrainian-Canadian Social Services, Edmonton and Yuri Broda, Secretary of the National Executive of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada.

The evening’s program was lead by Master of Ceremonies Ivanka Soletsky, a Druzhynnyk of the Edmonton Oseredok. She spoke eloquently about the significance of Ukrainian customs in the preservation of the Ukrainian identity. She briefly explained some of our traditions and focused on the relationship between our culture and our deeply rooted Christian faith.

Verkhovyna Choir

The younger and older Unatstvo of the Edmonton Oseredok of the Ukrainian Youth Association “CYM” presented a charming Vertep and performed several favorite Ukrainian carols accompanied on the accordion by Ivan Soletsky. Bishop David Motiuk, Eparch of Edmonton along with Rev. Anton Tarasenko, pastor of St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish and Chaplain of the Edmonton Oseredok offered the opening prayer and singing of Boh Predvichny. In keeping with tradition, the Presidents of the various organizations affiliated with the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex distributed Prosfora. For the League of Ukrainian Canadians, Taras Podilsky, for the Edmonton Oseredok of CYM Laryssa Szmihelsky, for the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, Ivanna Szewczuk, for the Marko Boyeslav Senior’s Association Petro Dackiw and Olya Hereychak and the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex, Irene Kolomijchuk. The Verkhovyna Choir, an ensemble of the Edmonton Oseredok, under the direction of Orest Soltykevych, performed several more koliady.

Following a traditional meatless dinner, various individuals delivered greetings. Bishop David Motiuk also presented a brief pastoral message in Ukrainian. He noted that our Christmas carols and shchedrivky are performed to glorify God.

Ivanka Soletsky

The new Consul General of Ukraine in Edmonton, Mr. Oleksandr Danyleiko, delivered enthusiastic greetings. This was his first visit to the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex and his first Shchedry Vechir celebration in Edmonton. He noted that Ukrainians are a people who take great pleasure in celebrations. Now with two official Christmas holidays recognized in Ukraine, people will have the opportunity to celebrate this glorious holiday twice. He expressed his admiration at seeing that the Complex is dedicated to youth. He noted that a nation that cares for its youth would live and thrive. Mr. Danyleiko acknowledged that Edmonton is the cradle of Ukrainian life and culture in Canada as the first Ukrainian immigrants to Canada came to Edmonton. They worked hard to preserve the Ukrainian identity in their new home. He explained that the responsibilities of the Consul go beyond assisting citizens of Ukraine to exercise their rights and it is more than helping the community to maintain its ties to Ukraine. Mr. Danyleiko stated that he will work to develop and facilitate business and bilateral relations on various levels between Canada and Ukraine.

Bringing greetings from the City of Edmonton was Councillor for Ward 3 John Dziadyk who is a good friend of the Ukrainian community. He expressed how pleased he was to be able to attend this traditional family oriented event and looks forward to attending more events at the Complex in the future.

The organizing committee for this event included representatives from the various organizations that call the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex home and included Irene Kolomijchuk, Ivanna Szewczuk, Iryna Hryniw, Yaroslav Broda and Andriy Lytvynets. The program concluded with thank you’s and a closing prayer by Bishop David Motiuk.

Guests dispersed slowly, taking advantage of the festive atmosphere to visit with friends and neighbours. After 46 years, Shchedry Vechir continues to be a dependable and always welcoming event in Edmonton’s Ukrainian community.