Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Ukrainian Dance Festival in Southern Alberta

Just as the rhythms and melodies of folk singing are closely tied with the language and cultural work of regular people, so it is with folk dance.  Folk dancing is universally tied with real life - the work of planting and harvest, the work of war, the practice of healing and  spirituality.

And so it isn't any surprise that Southern Alberta is home to so many Ukrainian dance groups, schools and affectionate supporters.  It really is a total family event when Ukrainian dancing enters the picture.  From endless hours of driving to lessons, to rehearsals, to costume fittings, to creating the intricately embroidered designs, to - and this is the point - to an immersion into the culture and folklore of the Ukrainian people.  All the dances mean something, beyond the steps.

All the movements have emerged from some ancient tradition.  And the opulent visuals of the Ukrainian folk dance costumes all have historic presence through the centuries.  The colors, the patterns, the flowers all convey meaning.  The embroideries are magical talisman prayers for the future - handiwork that speaks through the generations.  And the clothing tells of the physical landscape, the work, the celebrations, the economic realities of the times.

A while back someone told me Alberta alone had over 100 Ukrainian dance schools - amazing.  And in each school, instructors share their passion for Ukraine - and its dance traditions.  Then again, recently I discovered there will be over 20 Ukrainian Dance Festivals here on the Canadian prairies in the spring of 2013 alone.

For more information about Ukrainian Dancing in Alberta - contact the Alberta Ukrainian Dance Association at http://www.abuda.ca

Southern Alberta Ukrainian Dance Festival
Calgary, Alberta
March 16, 2013
Tel: (403) 681-0759

CIUS hosts Forum on Trafficking of Women in Ukraine

Forum on Trafficking of Women in Ukraine - March 22, 2013

On March 22, 2013, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies will hold a one-day forum on “Trafficking of Women in Ukraine: Governmental and Nongovernmental Responses.” The aims of the forum are to gain an understanding for the persistence of the problem of trafficking women in Ukraine, to heighten public and academic interest in it, and to encourage greater efforts by the Canadian and Ukrainian governments, as well as appropriate nongovernmental organizations, in dealing with it. It is hoped to raise awareness and to stimulate action regarding a situation that has been allowed to fester for over two decades to the discredit of all concerned.

The participants of the forum will include: Elizabeth Zolotukhina (Columbia University), Natalia Khanenko-Friesen (University of Saskatchewan), Kateryna Levchenko (La Strada, Ukraine), John Winterdyk (Mount Royal University, Calgary), and Julie Kaye (Ambrose University College, Calgary). There will be also a round table discussion featuring Linda Duncan (MP Edmonton-Strathcona), Joanna Harrington (Faculty of Law, U of A), Olena Hankiwsky (Simon Fraser University, Burnaby), and representatives of the Ukrainian and Canadian Government and NGO. The book launch will feature: Olena Hankivsky and Anastasiya Salnykova, eds., Gender, Politics, and Society in Ukraine (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012).

The forum is open to the public and will take place in room 236-238, TELUS Centre, cor. 87th Avenue & 111th Street, Edmonton.

Dance Workshop in Central and Southern Ukraine 2013

Alberta's Ukrainian Dance community is a pretty connected group!  Can you imagine, there are over 20 Ukrainian Dance Festivals planned for the upcoming sprung and summer seasons in 2013 alone, and these are only the ones in our Western Canadian -can drive there ourselves-locations! That must mean thousands of little Ukrainian dancers, all learning to cherish the ancestral traditions, culture, and community of similar thinkers.

Such a unique form of expression, but perhaps not as appreciated as it should be!  Over the decades, this cultural phenomenon has grown, embraced by generations of Canadians.  Consider that it is only a recent phenomenon to send students on dance courses to Ukraine.  How did the tradition take such a firm hold on the "extra-curricular time" of hundreds of families?

One of the foremost heroes of the Ukrainian Canadian Dance experience has to be Vasyl Avramenko, who first came to Calgary to teach in the mid1930's.  More about him later,but....

For now, opportunity is knocking for today's Ukrainian Dancers.  Cobblestone Freeway is hosting a tour to Ukraine this June 10-23, 2013 with the purpose of enriching the Ukrainian Dance experience for Canadians dancers.  With opportunities to visit fascinating regions including Kyiv, Poltava, Zaporizhia (home of the Cossack tradition), and workshop rehearsals with the renowned Virsky Ensemble, it will be an ethnographically full and stimulating experience.  Museum visits, children's ensembles, followed by relaxing time on the shore of the beautiful Black Sea, guests will train with teachers, choreographers and specialists in Ukrainian dance.

If you consider the Ukrainian Dance experience your passion, contact them at www.cobblestonefreeway.ca or at 780-436-7482.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Blood and Salt

The people who experienced the Castle Mountain Internment Camp near Banff, Alberta are part of Canada's history. So many peoples lives were affected by the experience! Loss of finances, loss of freedom, loss of a sense of belonging, loss of a sense of Canada's welcome, all these and more. Throughout the experience however, the internees were essentially pawns in a grand story of war, and political alliances. They were interned, not for anything they had control over. They were "enemy aliens", not quite Canadian citizens yet, and paper-tied to the Austrian empire that would enter Europe in a blood bath once called The Great War.

Some of them continued to dream.  

A new work of fiction, grounded in the real-life of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp in the Canadian Rockies is about those choices - asking questions about life, life and ethnicity.

Barbara Sapergia's new novel, Blood and Salt, is being featured at its Edmonton launch on Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8 PM. The Ukrainian Pioneers Association of Alberta, Alberta Society for the Advancement of Ukrainian Studies, and venue host St. John's Institute are pleased to welcome guests to this free book reading, book signing, to meet the author and stay for the reception. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Friday, February 8, 2013 at 8PM
St. John's Institute First Floor Gallery/Classroom
11024-82 Avenue, Edmonton

For more information and/or a special event parking pass for the area, please contact info@stjohnsinstitute.com. or www.stjohnsinstitute.com
780-439-2320 or 780-809-3771 or 780-952-1311

Thanks to Suzanna Brytan, Executive Director of St. John's Institute for the update information.

Ukrainian Super Food - Horseradish! Хрін

miller nurseries
If you have ever been in a Ukrainian home, you quickly recognize the beet relish made with horseradish as a favourite! This special condiment is served often, in so many different ways. But more about that later.

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) хрін  is a wonder food. It is a perennial plant originating in south-eastern Europe (Ukraine area?) related to cabbage and mustard, and has some similar qualities, but interestingly enough, recently received attention for its cancer-fighting compounds. Glucosinates increase the liver's ability to detoxify carcinogens and may support the suppression of tumor growth. Horseradish has up to 10 times more of this wonderful compound (the stuff that gives it the hot taste) than broccoli.

Horseradish has a centuries long tradition. A tea brewed from its flowers can help fight the common cold, root tea makes an expectorant, root mash can treat joint pain, raw leaves are a natural analgesic, and the ancients pressed leaves on the forehead to eliminate a headache. Horseradish infusion is known to have antibiotic properties against certain fungi.

Not a scientist, I can attest to horseradish's appeal, especially when I am under the weather. It just calls out to me! I have been known to take the horseradish and ground beet mixture straight, or heaped on breakfast toast. The juice does wonders on my sinuses and throat. My body seems to know it is good for me. My insides thank me too. If it happens to eliminate cancerous tumors, or whatever therapeutic power it has, I am so blessed to have loved it for itself first. It tastes great. Maybe if I get in the habit of eating it often, as my ancient family must have done, it will help me stay healthy a long time. Hope so!

Horseradish isn't hard to grow.  All over Calgary, in back alleys and hidden behind fences or in wild places no-one cares for, some industrious acolyte has planted a little slip of horseradish - and it has grown to giant size.  It is resistant to low temperatures, and droughts.  It grows well in shade, in warm areas, and places rich in humus.  It can grow two metres tall!  It can be really annoying though if you plant it in a domestic plot because it is almost impossible to remove.  It has a tap root that grows forever.

If you have horseradish in sight, you can harvest the leaves, the stem, the roots - oh so many uses!

Try this beet and horseradish relish! Буряки з хроном  4 cups ground cooked beets, 3/4 cups ground horseradish, 1 tablespoon salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cups vinegar.  Combine the ingredients and seal in jars.  You can vary the amount of horseradish according to taste.  (It is best to grind the horseradish the old fashioned way with a meat grinder, but you can also chop the pulpy bits into pieces and process in a food processor or blender.)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Ukrainian New Years - Rick Mercer Style

Rick Mercer Report
Once again, Canada spreads its arms wide to recognize and embrace its historic ancestry! It isn't very long ago that Ukrainians arrived on Canada's fair shores to settle in agrarian communities across the western prairies. My how things have changed in these past 120 years, or have they?

Canada now has the third largest population of people of Ukrainian ancestry in the world. I recently heard an Alberta Member of the Legislative Assembly assert that one on four Albertans is of Ukrainian ancestry.

Ukrainian is everywhere, from pyrogies to cabbage rolls, from the giant pysanka in Vegreville, to the Toronto Ukrainian festival on Bloor.

This week, Canada's emissary of humor is visiting Saskatoon to participate in the local Ukrainian New Year celebrations - let's call it MALANKA!  He looks good in the embroidered winter wear of the Ukrainian tradition, eh!

Also, Rick bundles up and braves the elements to go ice fishing on Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba

Be sure to catch it on CBC on Tuesday January 22nd at 8PM (8:30 NL). or here


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Living Culture - Ukrainian Style

Learning the language and culture of your ancestral heritage is a precious gift to open! Canada provides top notch public school education, and fabulous Ukrainian Bilingual Programs in many of the large cities, places like Edmonton, Vegreville, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Dauphin and Toronto. The students who are fortunate enough to participate often become polyglots - fluent in many languages - and not only in the languages of their familial ancestry. Elsewhere things are perhaps a bit more complicated.

Fortunately for "elsewhere", there are great opportunities opening up for summer studies in Ukraine. Take for example this L'viv Summer Course offered by the University of Alberta. They are announcing the twelfth annual travel study course hosted by the University of Alberta's Ukrainian Language and Literature Program  in L'viv, Ukraine to take place from May 17th to June 14, 2013.

krainian Through Its Living Culture is an opportunity to explore the culture and local flavour of the Ukrainian world, while practicing your language skills in a living experience. If you are interested in what could be the most memorable experience of your life, you will find L'viv Ukraine is a beautiful city. The program itself is full of educational value, not only the academic kind, but learning from an immersion in the culture and daily life of this vibrant Western Ukrainian city.

A recent CNN article calls L'viv "Little Paris of Ukraine." That sounds like high praise to me, so it's a wonder that so many waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada eminated from L'viv and area - there clearly must be layers of the story we don't necessarily know about in the western world.

To make things even more interesting, I have discovered that there is financial support for potential candidates of this program too. Makes it a very worthwhile little detour from the daily grind, eh!

For more information, see the course site at

or contact the instructors yourself at

Dr. Alla Nedashkivska, Associate Professor
Undergraduate Academic Advisor: Ukrainian
Chair, MLCS Curriculum Committee

Modern Languages and Cultural Studies
University of Alberta, 200 Arts Building
Edmonton, AB T6G 2E6
TEL [general office] (780) 492-4926
FAX 492-9106

Friday, 11 January 2013

Castle Mountain

amk2013- At the base of Castle Mountain, January 3, 2013

     In 1912, Calgary Stampede Champion organizer, Guy Weadick arranged for the Canadian Pacific railway company to transport interested Stampede visitors from across the prairies for a reduced return fare. It was a coup of marketing that ensured many visitors to the Stampede, among them the thousands of new Ukrainian speaking Canadian settlers. Then, in 1912, they gathered in Calgary as a community, and consecrated the first Ukrainian church in Calgary.

The same railway company, just a couple of years later, participated in something less festive and savory. Starting in 1914 and through 1917 the railway served as a delivery system to move "enemy aliens", those who held Austrian papers, therefore "technically" enemies of the Canadian state during World War 1, from freedom to enjoy Canada's economic opportunities, to forced labour and prison in Canada's First World War Internment Camps.

We recently hiked to the waterfalls in Johnson Canyon, located in Canada's Rocky Mountains, west of Calgary. Other hardy visitors also enjoyed the walk, on a cold winter day, made beautiful by the sparkling snow and icy rivers. The water gushing from under the ice and snow, rushing into the frigid river that steamed before it froze was a sight to behold.

Then we decided to check on the Castle Mountain Internment Camp.

     Castle Mountain Internment Camp was an ideal place to confine "enemy aliens" and "suspected enemy sympathizers" during Canada's World War 1 efforts.  In true fact, these people were among the thousands who craved the kind of freedom Canada could provide - and many of their fellow immigrants would prove this point by joining the war effort in Canada's military service to defend these freedoms. 

Located at the foot of Castle Mountain, prisoners called the tent camps home for the duration of the war.  Grim, totally isolated, confinement really wasn't much necessary for most because of the exhausting forced labour and severe Rocky Mountain terrain and climate.  Today valued tourists and visitors to Banff National Park have scant clue that much of the infrastructure of Banff National Park took shaped during those forced labour years.   

To get there take the Castle Mountain turnoff from highway 1, that's Highway 93.  You make a right and then a left onto 1A.  Continue west towards Lake Louise. The memorial is on the right, and the Internment Camp is somewhere on the left, but there are no markings, probably because this is a historical site that should be preserved.

The memorial was placed in the summer of 1995.  PLAST Ukrainian Scouts had a summer camp out there, (my husband as a helper), and searched to find the actual site of the Internment Camp.  They found traces in a bit of a clearing,  because the trees cut down in those internment camp years hadn't grown back yet.  The PLAST Ukrainian Scouts group found barbed wire still laying on the ground and there were other signs that people had been there, deep in the mountain wilderness.  Mounds of earth caused the young people to become somber in the erroneous belief that they might have been graves.  

The site is not far from the railway line, which runs parallel with the river.  It is important to note that general wisdom has it, the internment camp is situated somewhere between the river and the highway, on the opposite side from the actual monument. Clearly Parks Canada doesn't want any persons interfering in the natural processes of history. Now there is a convenient parking spot close to the monument which can be used by guests visiting the general area.  

amk2013 - The crystal clear blue waters of the Bow, that flows through the city of Calgary - in front of Castle Mountain near the Internment Camp.  

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Dishes of Ukrainian Christmas Eve Supper

Young and old enjoy the special Ukrainian Christmas traditions on the Canadian prairies.  Probably the most universally loved celebratory moments comes with the end of the lenten fast, and the family joining for the Ukrainian Christmas eve supper - Sviata Vecherya by the old calendar.
Andrew Boykow of the University of Calgary Ukrainian Student's Society explains the traditions of Ukrainian Christmas Eve celebrations, honoring his mother Eileen's culinary preparations. Here is a  great clip from CityTV's Breakfast Television, aired January 4, 2013.
Greeting everyone enjoying the Ukrainian Christmas meal - Andrew says Veselikh Sviat!  Happy Holidays!

Ukrainian Christmas on CKUA Radio

Alberta's CKUA radio has been online, producing original radio shows since 1927.  A treasure originally founded as the radio station of the Universtiy of Alberta, it has been recognized internationally as the voice of Alberta artists, musicians and cultural enthusiasts.

Orest Soltykevych is one of my favorite announcers on CKUA radio.  A friend from way back, his eloquent style and vast knowledge of music - especially music of Eastern Europe is superlative.  You can join him for On Sun Breakfast for Ukrainian Christmas on CKUA radio.  Selecting the great music of the season, celebrating the Orthodox Christmas by the Julian calendar in languages of Ukraine and her neighbors in Eastern Europe (Church Slavonic, Russia, etc.) it is a wonderful way to bring the music of Alberta's ethnic community into your home. 


Banff/Canmore 104.3. Calgary 93.7. Drumheller/Hanna 91.3. Edmonton 94.9. Edson 103.7. Fort McMurray 96.7. Grande Prairie 100.9. Hinton 102.5. Lethbridge ...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Ukrainian Christmas on World FM

Remember listening to the Ukrainian programs in the evening as a child?  Radio shows from Camrose, Edmonton, and a variety of locales took advantage of the crisp clear winter weather for great long distance radio reception - it was great to listen, to sing along, to hear that everyone was enjoying the season.  It was a way of connecting to the entire Ukrainian diaspora it seemed to me.  Everybody was listening from the farms, from the town, cities, in the vehicles - wonderful!

Thanks to www.worldfm.ca you can listen where ever you may be!  Ukrainian Christmas on World FM has great holiday programming this year.  Make sure to send this contact information to all your family and friends! And PRINT A COPY FOR THE GRANDPARENTS! You can also hear in the Edmonton area on 101.7 FM!


101.7 World FM

Monday, January 7, 2013

· 4:00-4:30 pm Christmas music & greetings

· 4:30-5:00 pm Father Kenneth Kearns Bilingual School

· 5:00-5:30 pm Dnipro Choir

· 5:30-6:00 pm Ukrainian Youth Unity (CYM, Liga ukraintsiv, Liga ukrainok, etc.)

· 6:00-6:30 pm St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish

· 6:30-7:00 pm St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral

· 7:00-8:00 pm Xmas Liturgical Highlights, St. John’s Cathedral

Friday, January 18, 2013

· 6:00-6:30 pm Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization

· 6:30-7:00 pm Dnipro Choir


Their overnight, commercial-free World Music montage will feature songs for Julian Christmas:

· 12 Midnight Jan. 6 to 5:00 am Jan. 7, and

· 12 Midnight Jan. 7 to 5:00 am Jan. 8

Ukrainian carols, holiday songs, etc. interspersed with a few Greek and Serbian festive favourites.

Thanks to Roman Brytan  - Program Director - 101.7 World FM

www.worldfm.ca   10212 Jasper Avenue Edmonton Alberta Canada T2J 5A3

780-863-2040 cell; 780-401-1601 office direct

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Ukrainian Christmas Carol Concert - Edmonton

The Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta Українське Музичне Товариство Альберти has been active in areas related to arts and culture since 1984.

The Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta is again inviting the community to a celebration of Ukrainian Carols and Schedrivky -Вечір Колядок і Щедрівок  a Ukrainian Christmas Carol Concert on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 3:00 PM at St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, in Edmonton, Alberta.

This is always great event that embraces all the Ukrainian community in prayerful song in celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ! Come, bring your children, and seniors - sing in harmony with the many voiced choir of angels - the Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta invites everyone to attend!

Admission is by donation to "Orphanage Project in Ukraine, care of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Western Eparchy". This year's event will be hosted by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada Western Eparchy. Remember to stay for the fellowship and post concert refreshments at St. John's Cultural Centre (10951-107 Street Edmonton).

For more information contact Luba Boyko-Bell at 780-469-4890

Primitive and Delicious

Feeling a little thwarted in my Paleo Ukrainian Christmas planning lately.  Puzzled and trying to find ancient solutions with today's tools.  Cultural anthropology anyone?

Armed with a recipe for non gluten varenyky that requires non gluten all purpose flour from the health food store.  Not sure I am going to like garbanzo bean flavoured dough.  Sure enough, pyrohy don't stick! Back to the health food store for another variety that uses rice, tapioca, quinoa and something else.  Doesn't sound like something pra-baba used.

It got me thinking about this whole wheat issue.  If it is true that wheat has been around for thousands of years, clearly the first farmers harvested only small amounts, and used what they had.  Milling would have been way to much a process for the ancients, not in a big way at least.  So they must have ground what they needed, as they needed. 

I've discovered that wheat doesn't instantly produce gluten, it needs to be worked - ie kneaded to produce the gluten properties, then....Well, it seems that rolling dough thin enough for sticky dough varenyky was probably not easy for the ancients.  And compounded with that, finger pinching pyrogies in the coldest, darkest time of winter was probably not all that comfortable. 

So, it got  me thinking about  korzh  iz makom - корж із маком, the way my mom makes it.  Actually, this recipe is probably something her grandmother brought from her mother, when she left to be married at 12 years old.  Yah, that's my pra-baba, and that's an old recipe.

It's a basic dough for varenyky, kneaded soft, and rolled out onto a greased pan, like a flatbread.  No yeast involved.  Bake it, cool and break into chunks while warm and dress it with a warm liquidy mixture of poppy seed, honey and water.  Suitable for a meatless meal anytime!

So, in all practicality, the Ukrainian kutia кутя is probably a real starting point in culinary tradition.  And varenyky вареники are probably based on the enhanced properties of gluten wheat flour.  Interesting. Korzh iz makom корж із маком is probably somewhere in the middle of the journey in Ukrainian cookery - hope you enjoy the recipe.  In my eyes, this is truly winter lenten fare - primitive and delicious.

Try this recipe for a lenten korzh корж - 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 1 cup soya milk.  Mix the dry ingredients and add the wet, mix and knead well.  Roll to 1 cm thick and place on sprayed baking sheet.  Prick all over with fork and bake for 45 minutes in medium oven.
Or try this recipe for a non lenten korzh - 3 eggs, well beaten, 1 cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 3 tsp baking powder, 4 cups flour.
Beat the liquid ingredients, add the dry and knead until soft and pliable.  Roll thin and drape in vegetable oil sprayed cookie sheet, pricking the dough in several places.  Bake in medium oven for 45 minutes.  After the palyanitsia паляниця cools, break chunks into a bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, soak 1 cup poppy seed in boiling water, drain the water and grind the seeds.  Add sugar or honey to taste.  Moisten the palyanitsia паляниця chunks with boiling water, adding the sweetened, ground poppy seeds and mix.  Serve warm.

Still have to find solutions to the non gluten varenyky problem - help!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Keeping Track of Time

Memorable events, times of regret, happy days, but none like the present!  How to be "present", stay in moment, and yet understand it is "just" a moment?  Seize the day! Carpe diem! 

So many events happen on a regular cycle - birthdays, anniversaries, weekends, feast days, holidays - why is it that we still need to mark them on the calendar? 

If we were just a bit more attentive to the rhythms of nature perhaps the blooming crocus, the first tulips, the first buds of spring, a whiff of ancient smoke might creep deep into our psyche and refresh the spirit! Keeping pace with the fluff of daily living, are we missing the eternal heartbeat of home?

Visual reminders everywhere, lists of duties and responsibilities, all prioritized, externally driven.  Time is so fleeting, there comes a time when the imposing clamour of contemporary living gets to be oppressive! But soft, tender as a fleeting memory, in an instant, an image can remind us to breathe.  All the whispered endearments in the "forever memories" of our lineage patiently wait to be heard.  Time to "keep with the culture".  And recently this beautiful one appeared in my collection!

Beautifully photographed exponents from the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, bearing tons of cultural insight, now grace the pages of a new calendar.  The only place in southern Alberta to get this beautifully photographed calendar of edifying wisdom is from the kiosk at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada - Calgary Collection at 403-264-3437.  A sister museum in Toronto has just released this beautifully photographed calendar - I am sure that Darcia Moskaluk-Rutkay the UWAC Provincial President for Eastern Canada must be thrilled with the new release.  Just lovely.

For more information contact 
The Ukrainian Museum of Canada - Ontario Branch
621 Spadina Ace., Toronto, Ontario  M5S 2H4
Telephone:416-923-3318 ext. 105 Fax: 416-923-8266
Email: museum@stvladimir.ca  Web site: www.umcontario.com

Calgary Bandura

The bandura is the instrument of Ukraine, but it has played an important function in Calgary's Ukrainian community too.  The bandura movement in Calgary had its initial stages somewhere in the late 1970's and early 1980's.   Alberta Culture must have played a part, but I am sure community representatives including Calgary's Mrs. Lydia Hladyshevsky contributed greatly too.  I do remember that there was a great convergence of energetic support for bandura which brought about summer classes, year long lessons, performances, and animated bandura players!
J Kytasty 2012

The bandura is a stringed instrument considered the national musical instrument of Ukraine.  Prominent through history as harmonic support for singing and dancing, the bandura was adopted for recounting the stories of the day adding tone painting and colorful support to exciting exploits of the Ukrainian cossack warriors.  Kobzari - players of the bandura were persecuted for expressing uncomfortable truths during Stalinist times, many executed.  Despite censure, bandura interest has risen over the last century, especially because its striking sound has the capacity to express historical truths through music, and influence emotions regardless of words.  

I remember excitely unpacking my new bandura from Ukraine, and when we travelled to visit baba and dido in Manitoba, there was no question about bringing it along in the camper.   The bandura and a new cassette player with a radio rode with me on the bunkbed of the camper.  Somehow, late in the night, I managed to find a radio station from Windsor, and the beautiful sound of ensemble bandura playing enchanted me.  I remember the first song too!!  Zore moya vechirnyaya!  Зоре моя вечірняня! The entire trip home was dedicated to intent listening and extracting the parts for the voice and bandura.  By the time we got home, I could play it (in a kid way).  

While I began lessons with Professor Andrij Hornjatkevyc in Edmonton, with typical class and foresight, the Ukrainian community soon arranged for more unique opportunities for western Canadian participants.   They lured some of the most talented contemporary Ukrainian musicians of the time, sharing no expense in arranging for teachers of the prestigious Ukrainian Bandura Chorus for the program.  Victor Kytasty, Julian Kytasty (progeny of the amazing Hryhory Kytasty line) and Marko Bandera taught - the breadth of experience, talent and technical training was astonishing.  Edmonton and Calgary had hugely successful summer programs, lessons with ensemble work, individual classes and classic repertoire that resonated in the minds and spirits of families across the prairies.  Performances of stories, ballads, and dumas just like the ancient kobzari fed the community's sense of identity - it was resoundingly successful!

Julian Kytasty, the Ukrainian American composer, singer, kobzar, bandurist, flute player and conductor has had a passionate relationship with bandura - as you can read in this article from  Den'.

Will there be another phase in Calgary's bandura journey soon?  Let's hope!!