Ukrainian Day, Independence celebrated at Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

Calgary’s Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble perform the Hopak. Photo: Marco Levytsky

NP-UN Western Bureau.

Just over 1800 people attended this year’s joint celebration of Ukrainian Day and Ukrainian Independence Day at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, August 18.

The crowd was smaller than usual for this event due to inclement weather in the morning.

This is the second year that both the provincial council and the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress have joined forces for this joint celebration.

In previous years Ukrainian Day, organized by the Alberta Provincial Council was celebrated on the second weekend of August, while Independence Day, organized by the Edmonton Branch was celebrated on a Sunday close to the August 24 date of the 1991 declaration.

In bringing greetings from the Government of Ukraine, Edmonton Consul-General Oleksandr Danyleiko underscored the strong support Canada has given Ukraine in the 28 years since it regained independence.

“What country was the first within Western democracies to recognize our independence right next day after its proclamation?

“Canada was!

“What country has been providing not only the strongest political support to Ukraine on the international state, but also direct and practical aid, especially those difficult days, when we needed it most?

“Canada has!

“What country applied the strongest sanctions on Russia in reaction to the Russian occupation of Crimea, military invasion into Ukrainian Donbas, illegal capture of Ukrainian sailors in the international waters of the Black Sea by Russian military forces?

“Canada did!

“We highly appreciate such strong and valuable support and consider Canada our best partner and friend on the international stage.

Thank you Canada!” he stated.

UCC-APC President Olesia Luciw Andryjowycz also noted “Canada’s and Alberta’s unwavering support for Ukraine in its continued democratic development, and its recognition and support for the new government in Ukraine.”

“We pause today to remember those heroes who gave their lives to the democratic movement, and to acknowledge all those who continue to fight bravely to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and those imprisoned for their fight for a democratic Ukraine.

“Today we also remember our Canadian Military who helped D-Day. Earlier we paused and held and prayer service for Canadian forces who fought with valour and courage taking Juno Beach and helping establish the Allied bridgehead at Normandy. There were 1,074 Canadian casualties on D-Day. Many of these service men were of Ukrainian heritage. Lest We Forget. Вічная Пам’ять,” she added.

Representing the Government of Alberta, Nate Glubish, Minister of Service Alberta and the MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park, noted that the event provided an opportunity to celebrate the long and lasting contributions of the Ukrainian people here in Alberta.

“I’m sure that I could be here all day and barely scratch the surface of what we have gained from the Ukrainian community.

“The Ukrainian community has deep roots in Alberta: roots that date back to before Alberta was even recognized as a province.

“And so Ukrainians are certainly among the first immigrants who settled across this province in great numbers and helped to build and shape Alberta into the province that it is today.

“We owe a lot to the Ukrainian community who have made lasting contributions in everything from agriculture to politics,” said Glubish, whose great grandparents came to Canada from Ukraine.

The afternoon concert featured performances by a special guest star from Lviv, Oksana Mukha, winner of the 9th season of The Voice Ukraine; Edmonton’s Dnipro Choir, which last year celebrated its 65th anniversary; the recently formed Calgary Bandurysty; the Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, also from Calgary; the Kvitka Red Deer Ukrainian Dance Club and the Steppe Zabava Band from Edmonton.

Masters of Ceremony were Mike Ciona, of CTV Saskatoon’s Morning Live program; and Yulianna Voloshyna, host of the Ukrainian program at 101.7 World FM Radio.

Among some of the other highlights were the feature exhibit, “Painting to Remember: A Collection of Works by Peter Shostak, who also signed books and made a presentation; the Divine Liturgies which opened the day, the Love Letters from the Past exhibit; the Ukrainian Community Showcase; the Stelmach House Learning Centre; the Blessing of the Centennial Pioneer Recognition Monument, as well as the Chornobyl Disaster Commemorative Cross, the Canadian Legion Monument and the Internment Camp Monument; and the Dzherelo Children’s Theatre – Story Telling.

Other family fun activities included visits to the historical village where costumed role-players bring history to life, children’s activities, village market, musical entertainment in the courtyard and the Ukrainian Village Food Festival.