CNUF celebrates 54 years

The community of Dauphin, MB celebrated the 54th annual Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival on the weekend of August 2 to 4. Dauphin’s Zirka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble perform the Pryvit, or Welcome Dance. Photo: Marco Levytsky.

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN Western Bureau Chief.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival celebrated its 54th anniversary with three days of culture and fun at the Selo Ukraina site, 12 kilometres south of Dauphin, August 2-4.

“Overall it was a great, successful festival,” Samantha Schiefke, Chief Administrative Officer for CNUF told New Pathway-Ukrainian News. Although exact attendance figures were not yet available at press time, Schiefke said it exceeded last year’s count of 6,200.

Among the highlights was Holubka, a joint Kolomyika performed in modern dress by Edmonton’s Volya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and Saskatoon’s Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble, which was very well received by the audience. The two headliners performed throughout all three days and did the entire Sunday night grandstand show.

Volya, meaning ‘freedom’ encompasses the unified spirit of the over 20 ensemble members. With many of Volya’s original members having studied in Ukraine, a desire existed to develop a similar academic style of dance within Canada.

Established in 1967 by Lusia Pavlychenko, and under the Artistic Direction of Serhij Koroliuk, the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble has successfully reflected the beauty of Ukrainian culture and tradition through the performing art of dance.

Perennial favourites, Canada’s National Riding and Dancing Cossacks from Dauphin, thrilled the audience with their horsemanship and dancing, even firing off a cannon to close the performance.

Rounding out the dance groups were Zirka, also from Dauphin, the adult group Bratsva Studios and Vitrivka from Ethelbert, Manitoba.

A special guest from Ukraine was bandurist and vocalist Marina Krut, who enthralled the audience and also joined Montreal’s Auresia, a singer-songwriter who effortlessly fuses intricate reggae music with world-pop undertones, for a duet.

Other musical performers included the Budmo band from Winnipeg; the Sawchuk Sisters – Brooklynn and Brenna Sawchuk from Brandon; the Drifting Cossacks Ukrainian Country Band from Grandview and Gilbert Plains, MB; the Menopausal Mammas, or better known as the M&M’s, from Russell, MB, the Party Time Orchestra from the Dauphin/Parkland region, the A Capella group Kalendar from Toronto; Drum Café, one of Winnipeg’s leading African drum and dance ensembles; the Metis family Chris Barker Band; the Ukrainian Oldtimers, one of the longest lasting groups of the traditional Ukrainian music scene; Rodyna from Dauphin; Double the Trouble, a fiddle based trio from Winnipeg; the By Request Band, also from Winnipeg; Kaitlyn Kruk from Vegreville, and Half Na Piv from Saskatoon.

With three stages on the site, the entertainment was non-stop.

Other activities included: Sip & Paint, art classes, conducted by instructor Irene Whitewall-Yarema at which participants could enjoy a sparkling beverage; the Nyzynka (Embroidery) Workshop (traditionally worked from the back of the fabric, so to speak, Nyzynka can be described as “double-layered pattern darning”); the Perogy Eating Contest, in which the winner ate 24 perogies (varenyky) in just a minute-and-a-half; pioneer threshing demonstrations by the Dauphin Agricultural Club; and fresh bread baked at a traditional pioneer oven.

For the children there was a pysanka writing exercise, a bouncy castle and Baba’s Kitchen, where they were taught how to make varenyky.

An hour-long parade through Dauphin on Saturday morning featured many colourful floats.

The shuttle service from Dauphin, which last year just ran for the Grandstand shows, was expanded to full-day service.

Originally held in the City of Dauphin, the festival was moved to the Selo Ukraina site in 1985 – one year after it was completed.

In respect to promoting the awareness and preservation of the Ukrainian heritage and culture, this popular festival site boasts a 12,000-seat amphitheatre, 450-800 capacity hall, three outdoor stages, vendor booths, Ukrainian Musicians Hall of Fame, as well as a Memorial Park and Heritage Village. Selo Ukraina is the original permanent home of Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival, and also hosts other events throughout the year.

Memorial Park pays tribute to Ukrainian Canadians who fought for Canada in the last centenary. The Tomb of the Ukrainian Soldier commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the first arrival of Ukrainian pioneers in Canada. The Filip Konoval Victoria Cross monument acknowledges receipt of Canada’s highest honour for valour in combat. The site also recognizes the 80th anniversary of the end of Canada’s First National Internment Operations, and also depicts a commemorative dedication to the memory of victims of the Genocidal Ukraine Great Famine of 1932 to 1933.

The Ukrainian Heritage Village is a living museum that depicts a pioneer crossroads settlement of the prairies between 1896 and 1925. The village consists of the pioneer homes, several farm buildings, a church, prairie school, antique farm equipment, artifacts, general store and a shoe shop. Rhodes Hall, also on-site, is the home to the Ukrainian Musicians Hall of Fame.