Solomiya Ostapyk, Ottawa.
For many years, Ottawa’s Ukrainian community had contemplated organizing a large-scale festival event. Due to various different barriers, the community hadn’t been able to achieve this goal for a long time – until, in 2015, the necessary passion, vision and leadership behind the Capital Ukrainian Festival came together.
When the first annual Festival officially began on Friday, July 24th, 2015 with a sold-out Pub Night, or “Korchma,” it felt as if Ottawa’s Ukrainian community had begun a new period of renewal and revival. This feeling intensified throughout the Festival weekend, July 25th and 26th, and it strongly lingers even months later as members of Ottawa’s Ukrainian community, with many varying degrees of involvement and attachment to their Ukrainian heritage, have been sparked to newly or once again indulge in their Ukrainian pride. The evident success of one of the Festival’s main goals, fostering a sense of common identity within its community, continues to manifest in different ways and at different events and gatherings in the city. The fact that many people of non-Ukrainian heritage partook in the Festival indicates a further layer of achievement of this goal, as it means the Festival also attracted and appealed to people of various other cultural backgrounds.
Many interrelated components of Festival planning and implementation were crucial to its success. Teams of volunteers, many of whom identify with Ottawa’s Ukrainian community and volunteered their time because of a passion for the project, spearheaded different aspects of the Festival: different teams of volunteers came together to focus on performers, vendors, logistics, food, drink, technical requirements, performer and attendee accommodations, and on-site volunteer management. In addition to these several-month-long volunteer commitments, 175 volunteers donated their time on the Festival weekend. Approximately 75% of these on-site volunteers already had ties to Ottawa’s Ukrainian community – the remainder included Ottawa residents from outside the Ukrainian community who were enthusiastic to help ensure Ottawa’s first annual Ukrainian Festival was a success.
The invaluable support of sponsors and donors also directly correlated to the Festival’s success. Both monetary and in-kind sponsorships helped the Festival secure different necessities, from food and drink to electrical and sound equipment. Companies, government bodies, individuals, and organizations also helped make it possible to hold such a rich, dynamic and educational cultural festival with their generous, and much appreciated, support.
As a result of having organized a successful festival showcasing Ukrainian and Ukrainian Canadian history and culture to 8,000 attendees, Ottawa’s Ukrainian community has solidified a strong foundation of passionate volunteer networks. It also possesses the capacity to grow and evolve, as all projects, events, and organizations, no matter their genres, grow and evolve over time.
From July 21st to 24th, 2016, thousands will gather in Canada’s capital city to celebrate all things Ukrainian at the second annual Capital Ukrainian Festival. Program elements for 2016 include a film night, a fashion show, an art gallery, cultural displays, dynamic performances, a lively marketplace, and non-stop activities and rich experiences for all attendees – regardless of cultural background.