NP-UN Western Bureau.
Approximately 300 participants at the Vyshyvanka Day Rally at the Alberta Legislature Grounds closed off Edmonton’s celebration of Ukrainian culture by forming a giant human “A” to create the second letter of the word “C-A-N-A-D-A” in conjunction with similar rallies in five other provinces.
This initiative was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress with the spelling of “C-A-N-A-D-A” starting in British Columbia with “C” and ending in Quebec with the third “A”.
Through a grass roots initiative in Ukraine, the third Thursday of May is designated the International Vyshyvanka Day (Всесвітний День Вишиванки). This day provides an opportunity for Ukrainians, those of Ukrainian heritage and friends of Ukraine around the world, to wear a vyshyvanka (embroidered shirt) and demonstrate their pride in Ukrainian culture and heritage and to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
The Day’s celebrations began in the Alberta Legislature when Premier Rachel Notley, wearing an embroidered shirt, posed for a photograph with Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous, Fort Saskatchewan – Vegreville MLA Jessica Littlewood, Head of the Advisory Council on Alberta-Ukraine Relations and members of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council.
“It was wonderful to celebrate Vyshyvanka Day with Deron Bilous, Jessica Littlewood and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council (UCC-APC) yesterday! We value our province’s cultural diversity and the historic contributions of Ukrainian Albertans. Deron and Jessica are huge advocates for preserving Ukrainian culture,” wrote Notley, who as a child preformed with the Fairview Veselka Dance Club, on her Facebook Page, May 18.
At Noon several other MLA’s got together on the front steps of the Legislature Building for a group photograph.
At 6:30 pm celebrants gathered at the Downtown Campus of Grant MacEwan University to march six blocks in a parade to the Legislature Grounds.
Once there, a brief artistic program included performances by the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton, the Viter Choir, the Ukrainian Children’s Theatre Dzherelo, and the Ruta Musical Ensemble.
Orysia Boychuk, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Edmonton Branch, which organized the evening event, noted that Canada is one of 50 countries around the world in which Ukrainians are taking part in the International Vyshyvanka Day.
She was joined on the podium by MC Danylo Krys and MLA Littlewood who noted: “Vyshyvanka Day isn’t just about embroidery, it’s about preserving Ukrainian culture in the face of those who seek to destroy it.”
It is also intended “to show everyone we are here we are a major part of Alberta we’re a major part of Canada,” added Littlewood, who sponsored the act making September 7 an annual Ukrainian Canadian Heritage Day in the province.
After the formal program, participant walked to the north end of the grounds to form the “A”.