During the Ukrainian National Federation’s 38th National Convention, which took place in October 2015 in Winnipeg, we talked to the representatives of a number of UNF branches to find how the biggest Ukrainian Canadian organization is developing. In particular, we talked to UNF Regina members, Olena Shyian, Branch President and Mark Dumanski, Vice President. Olena is a teacher with the Regina Catholic Board and Mark works for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
Being a smaller city, with a population of around 250,000 people, Regina has a relatively small Ukrainian community, up to 10,000 people. Olena Shyian estimates that the latest wave of Ukrainian immigration to Regina brought about 600 newcomers over the past ten years, who came to a large extent within the Province’s Skilled Workers program. Saskatchewan is energy-rich and among recent Ukrainian immigrants there are many welders, truck drivers and mechanics. Regina hosts two Ukrainian Catholic Churches and two Ukrainian Orthodox Churches.
UNF Regina has 27 paying members and up to 50 active supporters, who do a lot of volunteering for the Branch. The Branch operates a Saturday Ridna Shkola with 22 students and three teachers. About ten years ago, the Ukrainian National Federation hall was not as busy, but in the last 7-8 years it has been much more active with monthly perogie suppers and a lot of zabavas and concerts. The Branch attracted one of Regina’s dance groups, Chaban, to the Hall, and the Chaban parents to volunteer with the UNF. The hall needs funding for renovations as it was built in 1931, and increased activities are helping the Branch finance those needs.
For the Regina’s Mosaic multicultural festival, the local branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress usually has its Kyiv pavilion which is often the biggest pavilion at the festival hosting up to 3,000 people at once. The UNF Regina branch delegates its volunteers to run the pavilion. In the fall of 2016, Regina will host the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ national conference which will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Ukrainian settlement in Canada. UNF Regina is going to play a big role in arranging the Confrence.