Monday, 29 October 2012

Korinnya Ukrainian Folk Ensemble Gearing Up

Korinnya choir is commencing their fall season with rehearsals on the second Monday of each month, beginning on November 12, 2012.  To join this enthusiastic group and participate in Calgary's Ukrainian Folk Choir - Korinnya, contact

For more information contact the group President, Marcia Maluta, at

Ukrainian Professionals to Hear About Espionage

Philip  W. Fodchuk is an expert at Digital Crisis Solutions, and he has a message to share with the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Canada, Calgary Branch, at its Afternoon Distinguished Speakers Series.  The topic is very timely! 
Corporate Espionage: A Daily Occurrence in Calgary - Phil Fodchuk
Calgarians can meet with Phil on Thursday, November 15, 2012 from 4:30 til 6 Pm at the Bow Valley Club (#370 - 250 6 Avenue S.W.)
and enjoy a drink and appetizers for a cost of $30 for the event. 
Connect at

For more information about Phil Fodchuk of Urgentis Digital Crisis Solutions, check this Nov. 4 article from the Calgary Herald:


Celebrating the Ukrainian Christmas Season

The Ukrainian Museum of Canada (Alberta Branch) will hold a special exhibit - Celebrating the Ukrainian Christmas Season - from Tuesday November 6th until Sunday November 11th at St. John’s Cultural Centre, 10611 – 110 Avenue, Edmonton. Admission by donation.

Exhibit hours are:

Tuesday November 6: 9:30 am – 9 pm with official opening program from 7 pm – 9 pm on Tuesday
Wednesday November 7: 9:30 am – 4 pm
Thursday November 8: 9:30 am – 8 pm
Friday November 9: 9:30 am – 4 pm
Saturday November 10: 9:30 am - 4 pm
Sunday November 11: 12 noon – 4 pm

For more information please contact the museum at 780-441-1062, email or visit

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ukrainian Wedding on the Prairies
Crops are off the field, harvest is done, time for a feast - time for a traditional Ukrainian wedding!  Where are the besotted love birds?

Traditional Ukrainian weddings on the Canadian prairies have always included elements from the ancestral home and a lot from the new Canadian surroundings.

Today North American brides have so many choices - dresses, flowers, and all the details.  But in times long past, the wedding party was the most important detail - gotta get food, drink and a band - a good dance band!!

Planning for a Ukrainian Wedding - what do you need? 
First, a svatannya - the ritual asking parental permission to be married - arrange for food, drink and party!
Then, plan the day - service, photos, supper, and party.
Invite guests - make a long list, laughingly negotiate on a list, and party.
Vinkopletennia - just go out into the garden and gather some periwinkle (barvinok), weave wreaths while singing, and partying.
Call auntie to gather the ladies to make bread - a wedding korovai complete with a zillion pretty little bread doves (Ukie version of a wedding cake), and then party.
Cook a great Ukrainian prairie meal, Canadian version - Ukrainian holubtsi, Ukrainian cornmeal nachynka, gravy, chicken, pickles, and what for desert? 
Wedding day, getting the blessing from parents, and off to the service.
First the vows.  All the nervewracking concentration is over, and celebration day has arrived! Party!
Reception and meeting the guests, remember to toast the bride and roast the groom! 
Don't forget to plan for perepiiy - the reception line where everyone takes a drink as they personally wind past the wedding party, leaving an extra something in the basket for their new home.  Then the popravini (usually a day later, making things right, cleaning up and making sure nobody took offence at the dancing lamp shade).
A traditional Ukrainian wedding usually takes about three days, an elaborate one, possibly more!

It used to be so simple then - everyone played their part in the wedding plans, and things happened quickly - no bride or groom ever waited long for their wedding!

Some things do change though.  The white bridal gowns are marketed so heavily, and now food trucks serve up cultural variety at weddings.  Nonetheless, there are some ubiquitous elements - things that don't change. 

One of these is the music - and there are a huge variety of renditions of the Ukrainian Wedding March -

Zirka band plays a great Ukrainian Wedding March - it goes a bit fast for my taste but it is effective.

Tommy Buick - of oldtime prairie wedding fame has another Wedding March to enjoy -

And the Kapusta Kids do another rendition -

Eugene and his accordian do another worthy rendition at

Toronto's diaspora Ukrainian community enjoys this version at

Toronto's Ukrainian Festival 2012 was an opportunity to enjoy it again at

Music lingers in the mind, the melodies come from ancestral places deep in the family memory.  Let the dance begin! 


Friday, 26 October 2012

Canadian Feature Film - "Enemy Aliens" -

Finally, there is a film planned to portray the historical events from the Enemy Aliens episode of Ukrainian Canadian history!  In mid October the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation granted support to Actor/ Film Maker Ryan Boyko in his mission to produce a new Feature Film about Canada's First National Internment Operations of 1914-1921.  "Enemy Aliens" will tell the story of brothers who leave Ukraine just before the declaration of war in central Europe in 1914.  Ambitious and aspiring to a better life in Canada, the boys arrive and have their hopeful dreams dashed.  Like the stories of many new immigrants of the time, the ramifications of their arrival in Canada at this strategic juncture in world history are daunting.  The movie is a fictional account, full of adventure, love, betrayal, hopes, and dreams.  One alarming event after another will forever change their lives - and the lives of many more who were engulfed in this sorry experience. 

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation has contributed a sum of 25 thousand towards this film.  If you should choose to support it too, you can donate directly to UCCLF ( Donations to "Enemy Aliens") , a not for profit organization that will issue tax receipts for donations.  The Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund has also supported this project - check it out at

For more information on the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, please visit their website at For more information on this and other upcoming projects, please visit and

Former Prime Minister Campbell on Ukraine

Ethics, enterprise, and equity - these are words I  would like to hear more often when discussing the future of Ukraine.  Possibly the most important of them would be ethics - the ethics of a free and democratic state building a bright and prosperous future for all its citizens. 

Thankfully, the Ukrainian Canadian community has communicated long and well with our elected officials, and besides concerning themselves with the wellbeing of Canadians, many of these gracious individuals are doing more than simply listening intently.  In fact, besides the Observer Mission to monitor the upcoming Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine on October 28th, Canadian officials from Prime Minister Harper, to Former Alberta Premier Stelmach, to Former Prime Minister Campbell are advocating for Ukraine's democratic freedoms.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Changing Times for Ukrainian Book Store

Peasants, farmers, and labourers, - actually a mistaken perception of the early Ukrainian immigrants to Canada.  The truth is, however that they were far more skilled and adventurous than any of us imagine.  Many of them read everything they could get their hands on (or were read to) before they voyaged to Canada, and upon arrival, consulted with every source of information possible. They eventually created very many "reading-rooms" (called "prosvita" communities) and "national halls" (narodni domi) too sprinkled all over the rural communities.  Early in Alberta's history they developed "learning communities" that worked together with a "can-do" entrepreneurial spirit about them that was unstoppable. And they all had a connection with Edmonton's Ukrainian Book Store for important purchases like Ukrainian newspapers, books, calendars, training materials, embroidery thread, prayer books, fabric, music, recordings, just about anything needed to be informed and "stay Ukrainian" on the Canadian prairies. 

But change has been constant for Alberta's rural and urban areas.  Previously essential patterns of life have evolved and through it all the Ukrainian Book Store has been a magnet that attracts people who love the Ukrainian language, culture and values.  It has always been a place to reconnect with community! 
Meeting places change too. A casual walk through the business community is now a drive through, the book age is slowly being overtaken by the digital age.  Now it is digital books, blogs, social media and online shopping....And that is why today's Edmonton Journal article about the Ukrainian Book Store closing their business in the upcoming future has made me so sad. 
Congratulations and thank you Ukrainian Book Store for a century of Ukrainian connections here on the Canadian prairies - you helped build the community I love.  Farewell, Ukrainian Book Store - my heart is heavy ...thanks for the memories!




Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Four Season Shrub - Does high bush cranberry grow anywhere in Calgary? Looking for Kalyna!

Ah, Kalyna!  Kalyna is the Ukrainian name for the Highbush Cranberry.  It is a native shrub to most of Canada and has has recently become a more popular shrub in the Calgary area! Considered a four season shrub, it has attractive features to recommend it for each time of the year. 

The Viburnum trilobum is a shrub that the earliest settlers, among them Ukrainian immigrants, found here, and it reminded them instantly of the high bush cranberry kalyna from home! The plant is native to many places in Canada, especially in Alberta - and very attractive as a low maintenance ornamental shrub. It is a medium size shrub growing to 4 metres tall and 2 metres around.  In the late springtime some people call it a snowball bush because of its small bright white clusters of flowers, about 10-15 centimeters wide, that have large, showy sterile flowers, with smaller flowers inside where the pollen, and later the fruit is produced. In late summer or early fall the flowers turn into glowing red clusters of berries that can continue to be picked and preserved all winter long. Viburnum trilobum is especially beautiful in the fall, and depending on the variety the leaves may turn to scarlet red, purple, bronze or orange.
The high bush cranberry - kalyna enjoys moister areas, prefers sun but can tolerate shady areas. Because they are a cross-pollinating plant, planting two or more varieties toether will ensure pollination if you are planning for fruit.   Kalyna looks best in its natural state, but they can be easily pruned back and look very good when planted in groups or as a great hedge.  Picking the berries in late fall, just around the first frost will ensure the ripest, sweetest fruit.

Keeping the berries for a short time in the refrigerator, like other berries and soft fruits is fine, or they may be washed and stemmed, frozen, and used later for cooking or preserving.  Highbush cranberry - kalyna berries are best suited to cooking and processing because they have large, heart shaped seeds in the centre.   Flavourful jelly, juice, syrup, sauce, pie, liqueur and wine can be made from kalyna berries.  

Kalyna plays a huge role in traditional Ukrainian folklore too!

Chervona Kalyna - Veryovka

Верба (Біля млина калина)


Кущ калини | Українські застольні пісні

Oy u luzi chervona kalyna -- Etno hory 134 -- (ukraine music україна)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Multiculturalism - Dr. Lupul to Speak

For a unique, historical perspective on Ukrainians and the Policy of Multiculturalism in Canada, here's an opportunity to hear Dr. Manoly Lupul.   He has a very close perspective on its origins, impact and some personal observations on the legacy of this widely accetped policy.  On Thursday, October 25, 2012, the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Calgary is hosting a dinner meeting with guest speaker! 

Dr. Lupul is Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta, one of the many minds who contributed to the development of the founding principles of the multiculturalism policy for Canada. Over his career, and in the forty years since the Government of Canada enacted the policy of Multiculturalism, the world has changed significantly.  In fact it is believed that the adoption of this policy in Canada has fundamentally changed how ethnocultural groups are perceived and treated here in Canada, paving the way for change elsewhere.
Come hear how community advocacy, and interactions with policy makers, contributed to Government policy, and how Canada has evolved over time -everything from perceptions of cultural maintenance, inter-cultural communication, integration and race relations.  What an interesting discussion to have with Dr. Manoly Lupul - hope you can attend.

Thursday, October 25, 2012 at the Valhalla Ballroom in the Danish Canadian Club, 727 - 11th Avenue SW
Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Calgary
Box 6474, Station D, Calgary AB T2P 2E1
Phone 403-670-5477

Multiculturalism and the Canadian Identity

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Wanna go on a Black Sea Cruise?

I have always wanted to see the Black Sea.  Besides the interesting name, Black Sea, its deep waters have been part of the stories, folklore and traditions of my ancestral homeland.  And up until recently, the opportunity simply hasn't been available to go there. Time to get planning!!

Actually, Ukraine's re-emergence as an independent state only dates from 1991.  Prior to this, for the remembered history (over 70 years, and way more) there was really no opportunity to voyage there due to the political situation in what was the Soviet Union, and before that the Russian Empire and various other conquering states. 

Conversations with new immigrants to Canada indicate that in their memories, the Black Sea was really a place only for the elite, or the military.  Voyage, personal vacations, tourists from the rest of the world have been thwarted from seeing the Black Sea "up close and personal". It is really exciting to consider that as a possibility now!

Studying history, most westerners have a skewed perception of this vast area.  Our history books have been filled with colonial and conquerer's perceptions of Ukraine.  In fact, Ukrainians themselves have real and significant gaps in their historical understandings. One has to remember that it is the "ruling class" who writes the history books, and they have a vested interest in hiding uncomfortable truths.

Nonetheless, the intriquing stories about the Crimean War, stories of Istanbul-Constantinople, the Borsphorus, the ancient ports of Turkey, Georgia, Ukraine and Bulgaria simply fascinate me.  The folk songs telling of Ukraine's kozaks', their interactions with various friendly and unfriendly neighbors, the influences of cultures, values and belief systems on the people, and the ever steady presence of the deep and mysterious Black Sea all bear some information - but there is so much more to know!

It seems that way back before Kievan Rus' (860 and perhaps earlier) the ancestral people from central Ukraine played battle games with the great Empire of Constantinople.  From a time when Ukraine's flatland was a harvesting place for human bondage, comes the famous story of Roxolana, a poor Ukrainien girl from the steppes, her capture by the Ottoman Empire, and how she became not only the Sultan's favorite concubine, but his wife and Empress.  And from Kozak Duma's are stories of Cossacks nailing a battle sheild to the exterior wall of the Turkish Empire. And famous paintings like Repin's portray the Cossacks Writing to the Sultan with such glorious expression. 

Really, there is so much to know about the Black Sea, and through it, to re-interpret the stories of victors and villains, and perhaps understand her for the first time. 

Roxolana: The Greatest Empresse of the East - By  Galina Yermolenko, DeSales University, Center Valley, Pennsylvania
Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine
Black Sea - from Space

2012 Historic Election Mission to Ukraine - Harper

During the forthcoming elections in Ukraine, Canada is helping the young state with election observers to ensure freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.  Canada's bonds with Ukraine are deep and wide, and thanks to waves of immigration to Canada, Ukraine's diaspora in Canada now numbers over a million and a quarter people.  The Ukrainian Canadian community has worked to forge excellent relationships with our Canadian government - and through this relationship, encourage Ukraine on its journey to providing its citizens the freedoms we have realized here in this free land. 

Recently, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honorable Stephen Harper spoke to the delegation being sent as observers to the upcoming elections in Ukraine.  The clarity of his words indicate a thorough and serious understanding of the Ukrainian diaspora's concerns for the ancestral homeland.  Speaking to Canadians, he shows our nation's determination to support the free life, democracy, political maturity, and rule of law for all people.  As he says, Ukraine is simply a very important place in the world, not only for its citizens, but for Europe, Eurasia, its diaspora, and the world.  Canada is simply standing vigilant with the world in service to the greater good - a free, democratic Ukraine, human rights and the rule of law.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Where is Calgary's Internee Plaque?

Calgary's first Ukrainian church rang its bells in 1912, in what is currently Tuxedo area.  Local Calgarians of Ukrainian ethnicity, coal miners, labourers, farmers and ranchers joined in prayer together - celebrating their ancestral faith.  However, this high moment was short lived.  The many men, women and children who celebrated the liturgy together, were soon engulfed in another tragedy - the WW1 war time internment of "enemy aliens".

Newly minted Canadians, people of Ukrainian ethnicity from the breadbasket of Europe, holding a variety of citizenship papers including those of Austro-Hungary (WW1 enemies of the British Empire) were declared enemy aliens. During World War 1, these people were gathered in 24 internment camps across Canada, and some of them were, if not locals, then itinerant workers in the Calgary area.  Who were they? What are their names? What became of them?

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association has been a leader in the Ukrainian Canadian struggle for government ackowledgement of what happened to Ukrainians and other East Europeans during Canada's first national internment operations of 1914-1920.  With over twenty years of service to the community the UCCLA has gained public attention, but only recently, in 2008, did the signing of a technical document establish a $10 million dollar endowment fund within the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.  With these funds, UCCLA has been instrumental, with the Canadian government, in establishing memorial sites, and permanent markers at the various sites across Canada to pay tribute to those internees.  One such site is at the Castle Mountain Internment Camp site near Calgary, but most recently another marker was unveiled and blessed in the Whitney Pier district of Sydney, Nova Scotia. 

Like Calgary's 1912 establishment of its first Ukrainian church, the ethnically Ukrainian congregation at Whitney Pier in Sydney, Nova Scotia celebrated its church's first Divine Liturgy in 1912.  Sydney was grievously affected by the internment operations, and now there is a monument to acknowledge that fact, thanks to UCCLA and the local community.

Calgary's Ukrainian community suffered too.  During the First World War, many people were interned, leading to the closing of the first Ukrainian church in Calgary.  The community life of Ukrainians here in Western Canada was forever changed.  Some say that even after nearly a hundred years have passed, this event still resonates in the minds and hearts of families and friends here..  Could it be that this trauma led to immediate assimilation, and intentional loss of ancestral culture, language and family ties?

In defence of the human rights and civil liberties of the entire Ukrainian community here in Canada, but specifically Calgary, I wonder where in the city of Calgary there is such a place of honor? 

For more information, check THE NEW PATHYWAY, Thursday, October 11, 2012 page 6 for two more articles.  Also check
And CAPE BRETON POST, 21 September, 2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Mosaic Arts

If you have visited St. John's Institute in Edmonton lately, you will have noticed that besides the interior renovations ( which are just wonderful) , they have also addressed the exterior remodeling too.  In fact, they have added an artistic element to the exterior wall at the entranceway - a beautiful mosaic specially created by the lovely Theodora Harasymiw who is offering this workshop!
What a wonderful opportunity!!  See you there!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sviato Pokrova 2012

Today, October 14, is a festive day for Ukrainians everywhere.  Whether you are involved in church life, or a patriot, this is the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks.  Like many things in the Ukrainian life, today has many layers of complexity. 

Today is Pokrova, the day recognizing the act of intercession of the Theotokos, the Blessed Virgin Mary, over the people of the Blachernae church in Constantinpole.  According to Eastern Orthodox Sacred Tradition, in the tenth century on this day, St. Andrew the Blessed Fool for Christ, rose for prayers, and at four in the morning, he saw the dome of the Blachernae church open and the Virgin Mary enter, moving in the air above him, surrounded by the Holy Angels and Saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all the faithful. St. Andrew and his disciple St. Epiphanius saw it, and the people were amazed.

In the same spirit, the Virgin Mary has appeared in various sites in Ukraine, and over the centuries has become the protector of Ukraine. 

Pokrova is also tied to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army UPA and has indeed become a day recognizing the struggle for national liberation.  But complexity its is by-line. 
Of course, history is all dependent upon who writes the words.  As I have recently read in the book Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder, people don't frequently have many choices during war, and during the course of Ukraine's last century (and for many before it seems) the people have been vulnerably between a rock and a hard place.  Difficult to choose options when you have none, and yet somehow the world goes on. 

The Ukrainian political movements of the 1920's and 1930's were fighting foreign and domestic enemies.  The organization mentioned above was formed to protect the people from repression and exploitation by the various "ruling bodies", and drive to the goal of an independent, free and unified state.  Extremely difficult circumstances dictated the acceptance of violence as an acceptable tool.  Hindsight is 20/20, and historians can interpret the strategic errors those in the trenches were too busy to sort out. 

Тарас Петрененко Україна

Warrior heritage of Ukrainian Cossacks
For Ukraine, for its diaspora, for Ukrainians everywhere, on this October 14th, whether you like red borsch, green or white, greetings on this day of Pokrova!  (The photo is from Edmonton's Borsch Fest 2012 - wish I 'd had the chance to attend!


Monday, 8 October 2012

Woven Ukrainian Rushnyk Workshop

The traditional handwoven linen rushnyk plays a very important role in the life of a Ukrainian person.  And last fall I had the opportunity to learn a bit about this special artform from  Elizabeth Holinaty at a weaving workshop held here in Calgary. The event was one in a series of events sponsored by the Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts.  It was such an amazing course, and it was hard for Elizabeth to remove me from the loom!

 Last year's project involved weaving a small fabric sample to place into the window of a small greeting card.  Such a novel and beautiful idea!  And I had the great opportunity to make two!!  The students all came into the class to find a loom pre-strung for our use.  Elizabeth prepared a lovely weaving pattern, and all we had to do was choose  the colors for the project.  Lots of concentrating, but a totally fulfiilling process - very mesmerizing and addictive!
So when I heard she is coming back to Calgary for another workshop this weekend it made me so excited!!  This year's project will involve learning how to weave a small rushnyk of 8inches by 15 inches using white mercerized cotton.  The promotional material says you can choose to weave an all white patterned rushnyk or one with colored bands.  All levels of weavers are welome.

The course runs Saturday, October 20, 2012 in two sessions, from 9-12 and from 1:30-4:30.  It will be held in the Golden Agers' Room at St. Vladimirs' Ukrainian Orthodox Church on 404 Merdith Road NE.  You can call 1-855-488-8558 to register and pay by Visa or Mastercard. 

The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts is hosting a wide variety of craft workshops this fall. Please visit for more information, or email

Information about Elizabeth -


Ukrainian Gingerbread Man?

Oh, little Gingerbread cookie, I can't hear your singing!  Please come closer! No, closer yet!  Oh, just jump here on this long tongue of mine so I can hear your sweet singing.....

The Ukrainian folk tale has its own little twists and its own folkloric charm.  Whether you call him Medivnyk, Prianyk, or  Kolobok, or Pampushok, or ......the Little Honey Bun Story is a fun story for this fall season.  Reading the story, considering all the beautiful ethnographic messages in the colorful illustrations, and then singing the melodies of the folksong to a loved little person - or maybe a loved grown up?  How much fun is that?

In the traditional Ukrainian folk tale, the little pyrih, or small honey bun, comes alive and escapes from Baba, then from Dido, then from the rabbit, and the bear, but the wolf loves to hear the singing!  Pryanik (or little Kolobok) sings, "I escaped from Baba, I escaped from Dido, and I will run away from you too!" to each of his captors, until the wolf asks him to come closer, closer and then.......

What a delightful way to enjoy time with the children!
Honey has been one of Ukraine's traditional riches for thousands of years.  So using honey to bind a variety of flours (rye), makes for crisp little honey and spice cookies that rise well in the oven and have an extended shelf life.  They have been a traditional part of the Ukrainian palate forever.  The word "pryanosti" refers to them being exotic and spiced! Local tastes like berries (for their color and flavour) and nuts have always played their part too!

Medivnychky gained international accalim early in the 9th century, during medieval times.  Kings and royalty of Kievan Rus' attracted a lot of affluent visitors, while Kiev itself was an early crossroads for international commerce of the day.  Exotic smells, flavours and techniques and imported spices like  cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and citrus fruits (candied peels), nutmeg and peppercorns made for a popular treat! 

Today, medivnychki, prianiki, and kolobok recipes involve cookie presses, they can be found in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, painted with icing, or dusted lightly with sugars!
For a great traditional Ukrainian Tistechko - Medivnyk - Pryanik- try this lovely recipe. Enjoy!!

(Baba used a variant of this lovely and easy recipe.  The last part, adding the last bits of flour to the dough is the best part, everyone can participate and use up the excess energy in the house!)

Mix together 3 eggs, and 1 cup sugar until thick, creamy and light yellow. 
Heat 1 cup honey over a low heat with spices until the honey bubbles at the sides of the pot. Spices to try - 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cardamom.  Next time through, choose different spices!
Combine the dry ingredients, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp soda, 2 cups flour and use a standing mixer to make a stiff dough. 
Wrap the dough ball and chill it in a refrigerator for an hour. 
Prepare the pans with shortening and preheat the oven.
Remove the dough ball.  Gradually add up to 2 more cups flour to make a soft rolling dough, moldable and not sticky. The better the dough is mixed, the higher the cookies will rise.
Roll the dough 1 cm thick and cut out small 4 cm rounds, re-rolling to use up the excess.   
Leave plenty of room between the medivnychki-pryaniki.  You can brush them lightly with egg for a soft glaze at this point.
Bake 10-15 minutes, or until slightly brown at 350 degrees.
Medivnychki burn easily and they will come out of the oven soft, but will crisp up quickly.
Remove, cool on sheets, and dust with icing sugar, or glaze with icing. 
Simple, old fashioned, and delicious!  Enjoy!

Store these cookies in a sealed tin, the flavour will mature with time, but they probably won't last that long.

Pryaniky, pryaniky, ya tebe z'iim!

Perhaps it is time for tistechka z molokom???

SHUMKA, MATVIENKO, KYTASTY - Could you ask for more??

Ukrainian dancing in Alberta has never looked brighter!  Just think about the lineup for this Shumka's amazing fundraising Gala this November 17, 2012! Celebrating Ukrainian dance in Alberta is one thing, but when you enlist steller Eastern European greats like Matvienko, North America's bandura activist Julian Kytasty, and the amazing list of collaborators for this event's premier performances, you are headed for uncharted territory! I am breathless just thinking about the themes Shumka will feature in this Season of New Creation! 

As a former Shumka dancer, I can tell you the inspiration to dance is probably universal.  However, inspiration is certainly not enough.  Finesse, professional preparation, talented choreography, contemporary theatrical influences, and the deeply embedded ethnographic soul of Ukraine steps on stage with every Shumka dancer. And they deliver spiritually moving performances you remember for a long time after the event!

I have always admired Nina Matvienko for her touching and tender interpretations of Ukrainian folk tradition - you can't listen to her voice and not be moved.

And when Julian and Victor Kytasty came to Calgary in the summers around 1980 there was a huge bandura movement here!  Perhaps there is a bandura in your future!
Fantastic videos to help you understand Bandura!

Really, can you afford not to go to this Gala!!!

Shumka's Fundraising Gala - A Season of New Creation Join the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers for Shumka's 13th Annual Fundraising Gala: A Season of New Creation on Saturday, November 17 at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (11455-87 Ave).

Shumka's Fundraising Gala is the company's only annual fundraising event with proceeds supporting the creation and development of original music, choreography and costumes. The 2012 Gala will be hosted by Global's Lorraine Mansbridge, with Honorary Patrons Tommy and Ida Banks.

Nina Matvienko
The Gala program includes Koliada: Winter Celebration in the Carpathian Mountains - a special collaboration with Virlana Tkacz, founder and director of the Yara Arts Group of New York. This unique premiere piece features Eastern European vocal legends Nina and Tonia Matvienko from Kyiv, Ukraine, and Julian Kytasty, a Ukrainian-American composer/banduryst, and Cecilia Arana, a conductor and vocalist, both from New York City.
Tonia Matvienko

Voices of the Silenced - Canada's Forgotten Internment Camps
brings a poignant work to the stage, recalling the crippling legacy of the thousands of Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans who were not permitted to serve in WWI but instead interned as "enemy aliens" by their own country.

The evening continues with Oi susidko (My Neighbour), a high-stepping new piece blending the spirit of a favourite traditional folk song with a soaring symphonic score.

After the performance, patrons will enjoy scrumptious appetizers and visit with friends while bidding on amazing silent auction items with opportunities to win outstanding raffle prizes.

Cocktails: 6:30 pm

Performance: 7:30 pm

Food, Silent Auction, Raffles & Much More: 8:30 - 11:30 pm

Tickets are $100 each or $1500 for a table of eight. Corporate tables include premium seating in the auditorium, a complimentary glass of champagne for each guest at the table, and table signage with corporate logo or name. Tax receipts are available for the allowable portion.

Tickets available by phone at 780-455-9559 or email

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Seeds for the Future

Ah, the lovely smells of Autumn!  Leaves of golden yellow, fields of stubble, the harvest bounty brought home - such a time of plenty.  Time to thank, appreciate, and then put the gardening tools to sleep for a winter's rest. 

Hopefulness comes of this time.  Time to think  - well that patch of garden space really needs to rest, or...that section of the garden would be great for runner beans next year.  Ah, dreaming of next year's planting season.

I am not a seed harvester, however perhaps you could be.  I remember Baba saving tomatos for their seeds, and harvesting beans to dry some for next year's seeds.  This involved hopefulness, planning, dreams for a better tomorrow.

The bad news, however, is that there are major seed-developing companies that are already introducing "terminator technologies" into Canada so that every time you want to grow a grain or vegetable or a flower, you will have to purchase new seeds.  These seeds will produce, but will not reproduce!!!  The seed will be sterile!!!

This scares me a lot.  When you consider the accumulated agricultural wisdom of our Canadian prairie producers, and place that against the HOLODOMOR experiences of Ukrainians in the last century, our food security is a huge issue!!  Who controls our food security??

The National Council of Women of Canada ( , and the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada ( have asked the government of Canada to ban terminator seeds in Canada.  In the upcoming session of Parliament, Alex Atamanenko, NDP MP for BC Southern Interior, has sponsored a private member's bill - Bill C-434 Terminator Seeds Ban.  This is "an act to prohibit the planting, cultivation, release, sale and importation of seeds incorporating or altered by variety-genetics use restriction technologies (V-GURTS) also called "Terminator Technologies". 

Normally private members bills have little chance of passing, however you can help this one pass but flooding your MP's office with phone calls, letters and emails in support of this bill.  Be assured that the grain companies will be lobbying very strongly against this Bill.

Giving Thanks

Breaking bread, communing with friends and family, we take this opportunity to give thanks.  Thanks, for the plenty on our tables; thanks, for living in a place of confidence, optimism and economic opportunity; thanks, for angels among us who teach, heal, serve, give generously, witness, and pray; thanks, for times to hope and dream, to love.  Calgary has much to celebrate this Thanksgiving. Vibrant Ukrainian programs for young people, Ukrainian dancing, culture programs, language classes, social club, spiritual homes to choose from, and purposeful opportunities to make a difference - it is hard not to see the lovely life we have created here.

Ukraine is, at this moment, facing tough decisions about its future.  While the diaspora may grumble about the weather and politics, people in the ancestral homeland have lived with less optimism.  One indicator is the fact that so many new immigrants from Ukraine have assertively sought to establish themselves in Calgary's cradle of economic opportunity.  They are glad to be here, glad to contribute to Canada, glad to receive the gifts of good education, health, economic freedoms, that lack at home.  We can collectively acknowledge that, though life here isn't perfect, and it may be human nature to complain, every now and then we should open our eyes, take an opportunity to speak to the new people to our city, and ask the interesting questions.  Given the choices, why here?

In the summer I had a chat with my friend Bohdanna from Montreal.  Understanding my love of reading she recommended a new book. Recently I picked it up, Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder.  It's not an easy read, but an excellent one.  Snyder carefully explains the many twists and turns that have befallen the Ukrainian (and other) ancestral homelands this past century.  And in trying to fathom the deeds, the mindset of those people who dominated Ukrainian history in the 1900's, who wickedly imposed inhuman, beastily tactics to shape the world in a manner to benefit the few and bereft the many, to....I am at a loss for words.  The English language simply doesn't have a sufficiently descriptive word to describe this evil.  Perhaps our level of morality dictates that such a word not exist. My curious mind wants to understand how and why...... 

How fortunate to live here, and now!  Ukraine will choose its path forward, in elections later this October,  while its Calgary diaspora lovingly gazes upon our families, generously sharing the good fortune that comes of sober thinking, serious consideration, and wise choices.  GIVING THANKS!

Christmas Card Art Contest

UCC Christmas Card Art Contest
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) is taking enormous strides to help promote and celebrate Ukrainian Canadian artists. As part of celebrating the 2012 Christmas Season, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is calling for submissions of an original image to be featured on the cover of the UCC's 2012 Christmas card.

Submission Deadline:  Friday October 26, 2012

Design Submission:  PDF format emailed to .


UCC National is looking for the submission of an ORIGINAL IMAGE ONLY which, if chosen, will quickly become recognized as the face of the UCC 2012 Christmas Card. The winning artist will receive an honorarium of $1000.00 in addition to artistic recognition by the community. Images must express the Christmas theme in a visually resolved and captivating manner. There are no limits to how many submissions an artist can submit, however please ensure a high quality of imagery. Images may be manipulated to fit dimensions of card, thus consider the dimensions of 4 inches by 6 inches, 16 cm by 24 cm, or 20 cm by 20 cm as a guideline.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Calgary's Holodomor Commemoration 2012

Calgary will be honoring the HOLODOMOR on Saturday, November 24th,2012.

HOLODOMOR Commemoration 11 am St. Vladimir's Cultural Centre 404 Meredith Road N.E.

Calgary's Holodomor Monument, Edmonton Trail NE and Memorial Drive in Bridgeland by the Bow River

University of Calgary Ukrainian Students' Society

The Ukrainian Student's Society, at the University of Calgary, has a new President!  Kathryn Owad is a third year science student, majoring
in Biology! Besides that she is a PLAST member, and youth leader/counsellor on Saturdays, and has willingly given up her summers to be a camp counsellor/leader too!  And she has been dancing with Barvinok Ukrainian Dancers, for 16 years. 

The Ukrainian Student's Society at the Univeristy of Calgary has been a welcoming place since Kathryn's first year of studies.  Since many PLAST friends were actively involved, she instantly felt at home, and extended an arm to welcome others.  She served on various executive positions, but was made President just recently!  Congratulations, Kathryn!

President Kathryn (and Former President Andrij Butynets - who were both recently counsellors at PLAST's summer camp for novaky - at Camp Bar-V-Nok, Pigeon Lake) recently told me of their first Ukrainian Student's Society event for the 2012-13 season - it was a Perogie dinner and perogie eating contest! Their first social gathering, it was basically a meet and greet to involve our old and new members.  And the winner of the perogie eating contest (which involved THIRTEEN competitors) got a bottle of Ukrainian vodka followed by continued socializing at the University bar "The Den".

The Ukrainian Student's Society welcomes all students to their next event,  "Music Bingo Night" which will be on October 9 at "The Den".  They will feature three categories of music (Classic rock, top 40's, and Ukrainian").  Prizes will be awarded to those who recognize the songs!

Their third event is the "Ukraine vs. Poland's annual soccer match," which will be held
October 19th and is pretty much just a big cultural competition between
the USS and the Polish club! Kathryn says they are still sorting out main details but
it's always a fun time, and Ukraine almost always wins!

Their future events include: Holodomor awareness at St. Vlads with a small presentation by the club. EURO CUP 2013 which is a soccer tournament against different clubs, some of which include: Polish, British, French, German, and Spanish clubs, and is mainly organized by their USS executive! (who, it seems, won the tournament last year!!).
The club also hosts a pysanka painting workshop, a dance workshop, and a Ukrainian cuisine night/garlic eating contest, coming up in the new year!!!
Kathryn shared another interesting bit about the group.  She says that the USS executive likes to do is play "Mario Cart" in our clubs office (which is graciously provided by the U of C! The Ukrainian Student's Society club room is a gathering place where there is always gaming going on and it has become a club tradition to play on study breaks!

Come and visit at MSC 279-I. The office is located in the Macewan Clubs area in the corner of Macewan Hall by 'Stor'.
So, if you are aware of Ukrainian students needing a Ukrainian welcome at the U of C, please pass this information along! 

ps - Congrats to the club for their generous and enthusiastic welcome!  Good luck with your events!!  Sounds like fun!

Their contact info is:
Email -
office - MSC 279I (Mac hall)
Phone # - 403-220-7012
Website -
Facebook page: University of Calgary Ukrainian Students' Society