Thursday, 27 November 2014

Korinnya 2014 Sing Requiem Song "Zhuravli"

The perfectly blended sounds of the chamber choir size Korinnya Choir of Calgary 2014 performed beautifully at Calgary's well attended, and excellently organized Annual Holodomor Commemoration on Saturday, November 22, 2014. It takes a talented group to delicately yet effectively communicate the solemn sentiment embedded in the famous requiem song ‘Zhuravli’ (Cranes) by Bohdan Lepky, composed by his brother, Lev Lepky.

Hey, do you hear my brother?, my friend?,
Hear the sound of the cranes as they make their lacy grey passage into the world.

Calling "Kroo, Kroo, Kroo! ,oh to die in a foreign country,
But before I cross the ocean sea, with my wings I will wipe the tears.

Shimmering, blinking eyes seek the infinite path
As the grey mist obliterates, the fading, traces of the cranes.

In Western Ukraine, as early as 1894, a growing national consciousness among Ukrainians was stimulating much thinking, and community solidarity. A generation or so after serfdom was abolished the common people were aspiring to more than a subsistence living. Among the developments of the age was a fitness and firefighting organization called Sich rejuvenating the ideas of the Cossack Zaporozhian era. Many parallel community groups organized including women's groups training for nursing, community newspapers, and by the start of WW1 there were at least 2000 such groups. The enthusiasts coalesced around the idea of a legitimate scouting movement, and soon organizations called Sich, Sokil and Plast took shape. Each group was fostering their variant on the standard scouting curriculum through the lens of national patriotism - to love/serve God and one's people. Branches formed in villages and towns, and when WW1 arrived the young scouts heard the call to duty and many joined the liberation movement.

And a hundred years after the formation of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, Українські cічові стрільці, Ukraїnski sichovi stril’tsi, so appropriate to hear the Requiem Song that continues to tug on the heartstrings of so many. Thanks, Korinnya!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Calgarians Remember 2014

Calgary's Ukrainian community gathered Saturday afternoon, November 22, 2014 for its annual Holodomor Commemoration. The warm embrace of friends, familiar faces, all drawn like moths to a flame, to the flame of remembrance.

The Calgary Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress hosted a Prayerful Memorial Panachyda with the participation of local clergy, Korinnya Ukrainian Ensemble raised their voices in the soulful remembrance of The Cranes (Zhuravli), Ukrainian Youth read poems, sang and hung images of Holodomor victims, contemplative of past days and the world to come. Calgary mezzo soprano Stephania Romaniuk and Cellist (?) performed a beautiful, newly composed lyric piece in honor of the Holodomor.  then Mr. Bohdan Romaniuk spoke eloquently about the causes of the Holodomor, as a precursor to today's events in Ukraine, and Calgary Conservative MP Rob Anders, incredulous at the sheer horror of the facts he was speaking, shared his empathy and humanity with the assembly.  Thanks to the many contributors, UCC Calgary's program today held the listeners spellbound with respect and deeply felt emotion. Diakuyemo!!

Participants could not help to be moved by the speakers, the presentations today.
Among the participants today, an extremely well informed gentleman waited the opportunity to share his passionate concern to educate and inform anyone within hearing distance about Ukraine and Ukrainians. Today, Mr. Mykola Woron held a remarkable and rare book, released from a Soviet era publishing house in 1991 - Kyiv, the year Ukraine gained its Independence from the USSR, about the Holodomor, written by two authors who were thereafter "removed" by the authorities. Mr. Woron believes the second author,  Manyak V.A is buried in Kyiv. The masterwork of Mr. Woron's life is the Library at St. Vladimir Ukrainian Cultural Centre, a resource about all things Ukrainian!  Time to visit the library!  "Learn, my friends!  Think and read......."

 photos courtesy of Olena Pavlyshyna 2014

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Calgary Holodomor Commemoration 2014

In the late 1800's Canada had the wisdom to invite Ukrainian people and others from Eastern Europe to the hard task of creating farms on the prairies. The theory was that the poorest farmer on the smallest landholding in Ukraine had to be the hardest worker, and use extreme flexibility, creativity and personal initiative to simply survive there. That was the kind of worker Canada needed. Breaking the prairie scrub land, many of those farmers flourished amazingly well. Canada's prosperity grew.

The Stalinist Soviet government of the late 1920's and early 1930's looked with on with envy, coercively bent on producing a new kind of wealth for the USSR - collective wealth. But first there would be collectivization of lands. It would belong to nobody and everybody at the same time. Inexperienced foremen, inflexible, and brittle, bristled with arrogance upon the slightest criticism. Practically ineffective but ideologically driven they iron fistedly expunged centuries of creativity, initiative and flexibility in one fell swoop with the Holodomor. When subjected to pressure and stress, things break, snap or crack - as Ukraine did in the 1930's. Millions of people died, and with them, the subtly nuanced collective inheritance of farm land management, resources and cultural wealth. And countless personal and shared stories of life and living.....

Horrific events with a multitude of affects - and here we are 80 and more years later seeing Ukraine continue its struggle - how to bounce back from the aftermath of the Holodomor and more, and finally develop the world class leadership capacity to ensure the nation's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. How to engage an entirely disengaged citizenry who remember just how quickly the tallest sunflower always gets noticed and cut down first!!

The future beacons, and those who learn from the past will not make the same errors.

On Saturday, 22 November 2014, International Holodomor Memorial Day and National Holodomor Memorial Day, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress calls upon all Canadians to:

remember the victims of the Holodomor with a moment of silence at 19:32 local time;
light candles of remembrance in homes;
participate in local commemorative events and memorial services.

Calgary's Holodomor Commemoration Ceremony will be held on Nov 22nd, 2014 at 11 AM at St.Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 404 Meredith Road NE Calgary. You are graciously invited to wear an embroidered sorochka, and join the community commemoration of the Ukrainian Genocide Famine 'Holodomor'.

May our memory of the victims of the Holodomor – 1932-33 Famine Genocide remain eternal.

Ukraine remembers – the World acknowledges!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Euromaidan YYC

Many years ago in 1991 when Ukraine gained its independence from the USSR, a Calgary news reporter came to Calgary's Sadochok and asked to interview me. The question was, if Ukraine is now independent, will I "go back"? I was shocked at the question, being of Canadian citizenship, four generations of being Canadian! The question seemed to hinge on the confusion between patriotism, and nationalism. How could one be a patriot of Canada, and care deeply for one's ancestral homeland? Perhaps social media continues to wrestle with this question.

For an intensely interesting view of Tomas Rafa's #Euromaidan YYC film, Calgary's Military Museum is hosting a photo/video exhibit about the Ukrainian EuroMaidan this month and until December 15, 2014. Great cinematography and fascinating ideas about heroism in the times of the Maidan.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Ukrainian Maidan First Anniversary

Eye of the Theotokos,  Artifact in the Chersonesus Taurica Museum
possibly the eye that observed Volodymyr's baptism
Each new year brings endless opportunities, adventures, and sometimes moments of heroism. Life is truly a strapped-in, rip roaring journey, a passage from one reality to a more mature one. Racing through life brings new perceptions, ideas, and intuitions, but this amazing year has fulfilled every thrill-seeker's ride - especially for Ukraine and Ukrainians.  People in Ukraine may not be feeling so excited, perhaps actually feeling more intimidated, or even terrified as the year anniversary after Maidan approaches, but it is evident that the world is aware!! Ukraine has set its westward course, complete with expectations that the world will respect its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, which most countries have done, except perhaps one.

But imagine what is actually being accomplished, because the sum total of a lot of little accomplishments is indeed a growing number!  Who exercised power in Ukraine over these past 3 centuries?  Who is now exercising power?  And by all means, I mean information power is resting decisively more clearly in the hands of average people - the world over.  Are you not reading social media, an English blog, written by a Calgarian of 4th generation Ukrainian ancestry?

Either Ukraine is living out someone else's dream for her, or she is setting her own course. Ukrainians have stood up, in the hundreds of thousands, responding to corruption, oppression, intimidation, terrorism.  Each spontaneously contributing energy, information and outrage, surrounding themselves with friends with a contagious can-do attitude.  

Ancient ancestors needed to be fast enough, smart enough, courageous enough to survive famine, plague, predators and terrible natural and/or political contrived disasters.  So the people who continue to self identify with Ukraine and her continuing saga are actually the most successful survivors in a long line of threats to her identity, culture, language and self concept.  To paraphrase any number of Ukrainian folk songs, one cannot choose ones ancestry.  But it is possible to affirm that the next moments, days, months and years will predict Ukraine's future in a way never experienced before. 

Maidan forever changed Ukraine.  Blessings and protection resonate from the ancient past, and I am absolutely certain the future is sending back good wishes and waiting with open arms!  Where will Ukraine be in 5 years?  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dnipro Choir in Calgary September 27,2014

After Calgary's snow dump of September 2014 the warm weather has returned. Gardeners across the city are busily cleaning up broken branches, and salvaging vegetables that survived the thick blanket of snow. As I picked my kiwi's (thrilled with my little bowl of green grape size babies), pondered over the grapes (they will become raisins this year), collect the last few tomatoes that hid from the cold, and pick the frozen raspberries left on the branch, I start singing. Of course, the garden songs are usually my favorite Ukrainian folk songs. My heart fills with warmth, my ears remember the resonant harmonies of friends singing together and.....

There is a compassion bred of being connected to the Ukrainian idea, but there is a deeper spiritual and soulful connection that warms the heart when choristers synchronize their hearts, minds and breath. And anybody who knows Edmonton's Ukrainian community recognizes there is something special about its embrace. Part of the hromada's resilience, in my opinion, has to do with the feeling of gratitude, and feeling of belonging fostered through choral singing. And Edmonton's Ukrainian Dnipro Choir is celebrating its 60th anniversary of music making by bringing their Musical Kaleidoscope to Calgary on Saturday, September 27, 2014 at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary, located on the corner of 7th avenue and 1st Street.

Dnipro Choir presents an all Canadian program featuring the choral works of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage: Serhiy Eremenko, Yuri Fiala, Roman Hurko, Oleksander Koshets, Larysa Kuzmenko, Zenoby Lawryshyn, Denis Lucyshyn, Joanna Estelle-Storoschuk, and Willi Zwozdesky.

Is it possible that this wonderfully diverse Ukrainian community has been breathing together, synchronizing their heartbeats, and harmonizing, and sharing the pleasures of Ukrainian choral music for 6 decades? And going strong!!  Sixty years of choral programs, sixty years of eager singers, sixty years of printed music, sixty years of musical leadership, and sixty years of choral excellence. For more information check

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Wear Your Sorochka

In the mad press that is contemporary life, it takes courage to stand still for a moment and consider what is real, what will become of all the mad activity. My personal life has been a blur of colours, fast paced interactions, effective and less effective tumultuous volleys into the fray. Busy life, with really important priorities. So I have been trying to select the opportune moment to return to blogging, astounded, as everyone seems to be, with the public media frenzy around Ukraine and her aspirations in the 21st century.

Recent events in Ukraine have certainly impressed upon the world how difficult it has been for Ukraine to thread the needle under her neighbor's watchful eyes lately.  The intensely woven grid of social and public media has many millions of common minded people contributing their strong feelings about her independence, sovereignty and freedom.

Public awareness perhaps, but most have no awareness of the 360 degrees (years) of courage shown by the people of Ukraine.  What to understand of the three centuries of government bans on language, culture and ethnic awareness?  What to say of three centuries of smiles, stage presence, traditional embroideries, joyous singing, delicious traditional foods served to guests both trusted and not, resolutely and steadfastly presenting a brave face in spite of threats, danger and pain. Call it folly, call it bravery? 

Threading the needle has been difficult for Ukraine, but time continues to weave its tapestry.  The common thread (pun intended) is the Ukrainian blouse.  It is everywhere, including the fashion runways of late.  Why the sorochka?

I have always had a hunch that, like so much of the Ukrainian ethos, and much like Ukrainian folk songs, ancient Ukrainian embroideries encrypt sensitive information, perhaps powerful language or symbols for survival. Images of physical and mystical trials, the emblems, amulets, symbols and patterns are endowed with great power. The sorochka (embroidered blouse) confers on the wearer the collective aspirations of heroes past. 

What of the quiet weavers, threading their needles in silence at home?  Perhaps theirs is the true power, not the sword, not the pen, but the single thread that embroiders the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a people into an armour that empowers community identity.  

Do you know who you are wearing?  

(ідеальний настрій на полотні створили Роман та Марія Федини)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Psalms to the Almighty - Luminous Voices - August 23. 24, 2014

Calgary and Edmonton events of this sort are rare and special! Sacred Music of Ukraine, a programme sung by Calgary's "Luminous Voices" will be presented on Saturday, August 23, 2014 in Edmonton and on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Calgary! Please share this information widely with friends, family and the entire community of music lovers!

Artem Vedel's (1767-1808) Masterpieces of Ukrainian Classical Choral Music will be presented through the Artistic Leadership of Timothy Shantz, and the Luminous Voices of Calgary. Luminous Voices, Calgary's first professional choir, has turned its attention to the great majestic beauty of Artem Vedel's musical legacy. A recording project seems imminent!!

Two performances will be shared.  In Edmonton at St. Josaphat Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, and in Calgary at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Congregation. Attendance is free, and the churches will offer opportunities to donate to Orthodox and Catholic charities working in Ukraine.

Quoting Lilea Wolansky of the UMF, "In view of the critical situation in Ukraine, it is fitting that on the 22nd anniversary of Ukrainian Independence, we have this opportunity to lift our hearts with these beautiful psalms to the Almighty."

Thursday, 3 July 2014

From the Pacific to the Atlantic

Joining millions of interested viewers, lately most of us have watched news and social media with trepidation. The events of winter 2013-2014 truly have galvanized community, concern and care for Ukraine. For me, the feeling of Ukrainian-ness seemed to be fading into Canadian-ness, but the world response to Ukraine has changed this! Ukraine's unique position in the world, and complex challenges are being publicly confirmed. The centuries old aspirations of Ukrainians, the historical neighborhood, the impatient tenacity, and unhappy consequences for nationhood, for economic security, and political sovereignty is finally reaching a world audience. Recognition has fostered a spirit of hope, of freedom, of pride, and this acknowledgement has seeped into the social consciousness of Ukraine's people - including the diaspora. The can-do spirit seems reborn in so many people, including family and friends of ours! Seeking a better future, they have made very hard decisions, and acted upon them!

A surprising and well received film entry into the Cannes Festival of 2014 by cinematographer brothers Andrew and Phillip Rozhen documented Ukraine's "Winter that changed us". The gentlemen will be touring CANADA to share this remarkable, powerful and informative account of Ukraine's civil protest of 2013-2014 - the MAIDAN. The tour starts in Vancouver, and I know they will be at Vegreville's Ukrainian Pysanka Festival! Surely this is an event to pencil into your schedule! More information to come!

Friday, 13 June 2014

2014 Ukie Stampede Stomp

Calgary is the home of the world's largest and best known Rodeo - the Calgary Stampede! And just over a century ago a huge number of new immigrants to Canada from the mountains, foothills and steppes of Ukraine joined the Stampede fans - even participating wholeheartedly in the horse-play, lasso competitions, and horse riding hijinks! It was, of course a time when Calgary's first Ukrainian church community was taking their prayerful steps in setting root here, and just before Canada's First Internment Operations. But those are a lot of other stories about Ukrainians in Calgary!

A little connection you may not know though - there is increasing evidence supporting the hypothesis that horses were domesticated during the copper age, in the Eurasian Steppes centered in Dereivka, Ukraine between 3380-4570 BC! Dereivka is located in the Dnipro valley in Kirovohrads'ka oblast Ukraine. The herding and breeding of horses, beginning with the domestication of the horse, transformed Ukraine's steppe culture, and every subsequent society that adopted horse culture.  Horses increased mobility, and had an impact on transportation, trade, hunting and warfare. While the glorious age of Ukrainian Cossack State resonates in the memory, jump forward many centuries to the timely establishment of the Calgary Stampede! It must have been extremely enticing for new Canadians from Ukraine to join with their new countrymen in celebrating the horse culture on Canada's new frontier. The wild open spaces, the tradition, the colourful stories of Ukrainian cowboys - the kozaky - and everyone was a cowboy!

Lots of reasons to join in the Calgary Stampede Fun - and it is never too early for a Pre-Stampede Stomp! Getting your cowboy boots on?

St. Stephen's Cultural Centre is again the great venue for a Barbeque Steak and Perogie Supper on Saturday, June 21, 2014! Make sure to get your tickets soon! Yee! Ha!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Ukrainian Calgary is Two Today!

Today is Ukrainian Calgary's second birthday! As I like to say - happy, healthy mnohi lita!  It has been an adventure learning to blog - and frankly, finding time to blog!  I love it, and am so positively overwhelmed with the readership!  Gotta say, there are fans of Ukrainian Calgary on almost every continent - okay nobody from Antarctica - but there is still opportunity there!

The idea arose from a comment a friend made a while back. Ukrainian people everywhere are extremely good at planning and having great events, but let's face it, we are just not all that savvy at promotions!  When I started this blog, it felt like it was the only chatty promo blog about Ukrainian things.  Since then I have noticed at least a few more interesting blogs about community and events.  And in the last six or so months, that number has burst the seams with information about the social, political and economic realities of Ukrainians in the homeland and here at home. It seem the stories of our ancestral connections continue to nurture us and our families! We like to not only remember, but create energetic connections for our family, culture, tradition and language!  It is, after all, about the relationships we hold dear!

So much has changed in a brief two years, and yet.....  so much yet to accomplish.  Here's to all the unsung heroes who reach out, connect, make bonds of friendship that become often closer than family! Whatever the time, talent or treasure you are sharing with the Ukrainian community, diasporan or in Ukraine, THANK YOU!  You are my family, my dear friends!  And blog on!  

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Name that Mushroom!

wild morel mushrooms - дикі сморчки гриби ???
Ukrainians everywhere have a penchant for mushrooms!  And of course the folk songs tell of hunting for mushrooms in the fall, but there are special mushrooms hunters who get out there early in the spring too!

Ukrainians use a lot of mushrooms and cream in many recipes - and every Ukrainian cookbook comes with at least one favorite variant!  This one is from an old cookbook that gives advice on the social aspect of mushroom picking, packing a picnic and sticking together with an expert mushroom identifier. 

Wild mushrooms are a treat, but there is a Ukrainian joke that goes something like this.  What kind of wild mushrooms can you pick?  All mushrooms are edible, it's just that some mushrooms are edible more than once!!  

A friend in Calgary found these lovelies in a heavily wooded pasture with a creek, somewhere near Calgary, but unfortunately she is sworn to secrecy about the actual location! All the same here are a couple of great recipes to enjoy!

Mushrooms in Cream

1 pound mushrooms          2 T chopped onion
3 T butter                          2 T Flour
1/2 cup chicken stock       1/2 sweet cream
Salt and Pepper                1 t chopped dill

Use room temperature ingredients for best results!  Clean, wash, drain and slice the mushrooms. Cook the onion in the butter until it is barely tender. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or longer. Blend the flour with the chicken stock to a smooth paste. Stir in the cream a small bit at a time to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mixture boils. Season to taste, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes, or longer. More cream may be added for a thinner sauce. When ready to serve, stir in the dill.

Mushrooms in Sour Cream

1 pound mushrooms          1 small onion, chopped
2 T butter                          2 T flour
1 cup sour cream              1/2 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper                1 t chopped dill

Clean, wash, drain and slice the mushrooms. Cook the onion in the butter until just wilted. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes. Blend the flour with a little of the cream to make a smooth paste, gradually stir in the remaining cream, and add to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the mixture boils. Add the garlic and season to taste. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or longer. When read to serve stir in the dill.
If the mushrooms look relatively clean, just damp wipe the mushrooms as they could absorb more water than you wish, and get mushy. You could also try a soft bristle mushroom brush!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Calgary's Fifth Ukrainian Festival 2014

Do you remember hope and enthusiasm of that special day back in May 2010? An amazing festival to present to Calgarians, hopeful presenters and guests.... It was supposed to be a sunny spring day, but in typical Calgary fashion, it was a snowy spring day! And an awesome First Calgary Ukrainian Festival brought light, warmth, companionship and great fun to our wonderful city!

The success of that weekend event surpassed all expectations! With line-up crowds spilling out from the foyer onto the street - enthusiastically anticipating and celebrating the day - it was clearly a sign of pent-up community spirit here in Ukrainian Calgary. The very first, of course has led to many more, in fact so many that now Calgary's festival is on the International Ukrainian Festival Map! and if you haven't marked it into your calendar yet, IT IS TIME!

Calgary's FIFTH Ukrainian Festival June 7th and 8th, 2014!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

For These Words are True

and He said to me,
"write this down for these words are true"
Free and unencumbered access to public media has sensitized people to the exhaustive criminality beleaguering Ukraine's peace, sovereignty and security. Their desire to rid Ukraine of a domestic criminal regime has spilled the beans on a global tectonic crisis. The truth of the matter is that the tentacles of a parasitic fungus has, for centuries, drawn the lifeblood of Ukraine's prosperity, leaving her beleaguered and vulnerable. How is it possible to keep a steady, balanced hand and maintain equilibrium given these circumstances?
ivanna ososkalo

The ancestors sensed a great emotional vertigo was upon the Ukrainian people, and in their wisdom, conveyed subtle but powerful antidotes for their healing. There is Great Wisdom to be shared in community! Like public servants, teachers, nurses, construction workers, and labourers we all have a vested interest!  Where ignorance abounds, heinous evil can lurk - a spiritually exhausting fraud!

the wheel of truth -
 the "Alpha and Omega"
Everything, however is relationally connected in circles, swirls, triangles, crosses and ...they are the beautiful symbols we cherish in paska, babka, pysanky and every other art form of traditional Ukrainian culture.

the wheel of Peace in the world
touches everyone
The ancients left signs of their wisdom, everywhere, and their aim is true!

Pressure, darkness, exhaustion, isolation, ignorance, and the long, cold, dark winter may soon be over!  The weak remnants of darkness will fade,  and long anticipated Spring of Hope will bring Bright Resurrection into every dark corner!

the unblinking eyes of honesty,
"All seeing"
May the Resurrection bring peace, here and everywhere!  Happy Paska! Khrystos Voskres!

Friday, 4 April 2014

New Times

I have been paying attention to the international press about the situation in Ukraine, as have many other millions of people.  In fact, I was startled to discover there are actually 20 million people identifying as Ukrainians in the diaspora! Astounding, there are actually people on islands of the Pacific, living under another political jurisdiction, identifying as Ukrainians there too!  Imagine churches, clubs, organizations, dancers, ......everywhere!  The diaspora is a very interesting phenomenon!

Whether one assimilates quickly or slowly in the diaspora, a lot of people have close ancestral ties to their homeland.  Caring, hoping, and contributing in very small ways to the efforts for Ukraine's wellbeing, there are thousands of places where Ukrainians gather for community - outside of the homeland borders! Astounding!

Sadly, here in my community, when the most recent events started unfolding in Ukraine, there were people who were "of another opinion". What other opinion?  Imagine, people living with freedoms, rights, privileges guaranteed by their new homelands, in the embrace of a democratic, sovereign state, presented with economic opportunity for all, being of "another opinion" on the status of Ukraine! Imagine those who would not extend a prayer or stand in principle because of "another opinion".  Quite frankly, I have been quietly incensed!  And I don't mean in a holy way!

The generations of people who escaped the clutches of totalitarian states, choosing dignity, freedom and opportunity for their offspring, all dreamed of a time when their homeland would attain these cherished prizes too. Ukrainian churches, institutions, organizations, foundations, choirs, drama groups, dance troupes, Ukrainian schools, scouts, youth groups, community connections and personal relationships create opportunities of embrace, with the smells, tastes, sounds, textures, of "home".  They all flourish out of an idea  - the beautiful idea that justice and truth should always prevail, that the torch of freedom is raised for all!

Twenty million people of Ukrainian ancestry in the diaspora - and about 46 million in Ukraine?  Does that mean one third of all Ukrainians have left the country for better opportunities elsewhere!  What does that say about roots and wings?  New Times indeed.  

Friday, 14 March 2014

Praying for Truth in Calgary-March 16

Фото: Volodymyr Kukhtevych
Ukrainian flag over Historic City Hall in Calgary
March 7-16, 2014
Manipulation of events happening in Ukraine border on the absurd lately. As a Canadian, aware of my citizen rights and responsibilities, it astounds me to hear a foreign power blatantly state their military forces may occupy a portion of Ukraine, and the world should simply stay quiet. And when a foreign entity decides to hold a referendum on sovereign land, by the point of a gun, the world should, again, stay quiet.

The children of Ukraine and her international diaspora understand and respect that the rule of law stands to protect the peace, protect life, protect property and agreements that bind civil society. That is, perhaps why many have emigrated to lands where law and order abide. That is why, in these early spring days in Calgary, the Ukrainian community is again gathering to stand in solidarity with Ukraine in her struggle to enter a new future, one designed and selected by her law abiding citizens!

Calgary's Mayor Naheed Nenshi and the city administration have approved the flying of Ukraine's flag over our beautiful city this week to honor the Ukrainian people during the Sochi Paralympic games - from March7-16th, 2014.. This symbolic act of solidarity with freedom loving people should give hope and confidence to people all over the world that Canada stands for peace, for civil society, for honoring of laws and responsible citizenship.

I understand that Montreal's multi-ethnic community recently gathered in similar fashion, joining Syrian, Georgian, Tatar, Muslim, Jewish, Venezuelan, Lithuanian, Polish and other communities, in a huge outpouring of mutual support for those whose homeland has been negatively affected by their "interesting" relationship with Ukraine's north eastern neighbour. Let us, Calgarians, in similar fashion, stand together in solidarity for truth, dignity, the rule of law, and the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of freedom aspiring nations.

Citizens for a better world, please join Calgary in prayer for Ukraine's sovereignty on Sunday, March 16th at 4PM in front of Calgary's Historic City Hall at 700 Macleod Trail SE. More information from Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Robert Kalinovich at 403-703-4425 or Halia Wilson at 403-512-2263.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Shevchenko's Hromada in Calgary

Taras Shevchenko monument on the Dnipro River near Kaniv
My fond recollection of singing, performing, reciting Taras Shevchenko's amazing writing spans my entire lifetime. Ukrainian school was a place to form some of my strongest life-time friendships. Today, a Canadian public school student by law may study a variety of languages, and some very fortunate ones in a bilingual Ukrainian and English setting. Studying the great literature of the world, one such Saskatoon young person has also learned to love the powerful, moving works of Taras Shevchenko, the bard of Ukraine. She writes : "When all of the awful events happened there, almost leading to war, I was honestly broken, and it made me think a lot about how Shevchenko fought for the freedom of our people. One night I woke up in the middle of my dream and started writing, it was like I was under a spell, wasn’t sure what I was doing in other words. I wrote a poem called “It’s been 200 years” it both talks to the people of Ukraine and about the 200 anniversary of T. Shevchenko."

Kateryna by Taras Shevchenko 1842
Уже 200 років
Там де калина хиталася з вітром,
трава колихалася скрізь.
Тарас Шевченко, наш милий,
писав нам добрий заповіт.
"Любіть, ви діти Україну,
не загубіть коріння все своє,
також любіть ви матір свою милу,
не забувайте слово ви моє.,,

Не бійтесь люди ви свободи,
скажіть ви ворогам своїм.
Шевченко мав таку уже нагоду,
тепер черга і наша розказати всім.
Пройшло вже 200 років,
але пам'ятати будемо завжди,
Героя, Кобзара, Надію,
напротягом як можна,
по землі свобідно йти!
Написала Оля Пільченко                                       

Canada's remarkable diversity, pluralism, tolerance and opportunity is in stark contrast with the events currently pressing on Ukraine, especially Crimea.  In response, many groups in the international diaspora are spontaneously organizing vigils, prayer groups and other activities in support of Ukraine's right to choose their future - their government - their national priorities, and their neighborhood friends. Heros with a cause, indeed!
Calgary's Ukrainian community is gathering to honor Taras Shevchenko on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at Assumption Ukrainian Catholic Church Hall 704-6 STreet NE at 3 PM.  Following the event, the Ukrainian community invites Calgarians of good will to meet for prayer and fellowship in front of old City Hall, where the City of Calgary will be flying the beautiful blue and yellow flag of Ukraine in solidarity with freedom loving people everywhere, especially Ukraine.  Thanks to Canada for its principled stance on the emerging crisis in Ukraine! 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Twenty First Century Citizens

Khmelnytsky monument in Kyiv amk2013
The recent events in Ukraine have left me speechless lately.  Like many, I am astounded by the audacity of Ukraine's neighborhood bully.  And the constantly changing scenario fluctuates moment by moment.  So what is true?

Ukraine's relationship with her north eastern partner has been the source of much angst and bloodshed over the centuries. Her patient people have shared, collaborated and created a community of solidarity that stands on the principle of truth. The Ukrainian idea, while expressed in cultural artifacts, songs and dance, is truly about that beautiful ideal. There is a time for everything, for dancing, singing, weaving, planting, and harvesting, ...and yet a droplet of energy properly expended can change everything.
Pereyaslav Khmelnytsky Museum amk2013

Families love their children, children continue to care for their elders in a cycle of mutual love, care and concern - family values matter.  Even when a person departs this physical earth, the continued presence of the 'saints' who have gone to prepare a place for us lingers.  The smells, sights, sounds and remembrances of times past nurture the coming generations.  This is culture.

And so when new generations everywhere contribute improvements to science, communication, medical care and other needs, it is a direct response of care and love for the coming generations.  When a loved one's life is at risk, or in need, the family/community/nation steps in with assistance - we are all one interconnected family.  We may not always admit, but it has always been so. When the earliest travellers stepped into the world, they carried personal honor, truth and principles, trust and reciprocity as their "cultural baggage", and it included poetry, lyrics and histories that nurtured and sustained them through ethical challenges and dangerous times.
Shevchenko Museum in Kaniv amk2013

So when the principled actions of intelligent, patient people in Ukraine over these past months are assessed by the world media, the one consistent message is that these are a very informed and cultured people who care deeply about their land. No longer left in political, social and economic isolation, the twenty first century citizen of Ukraine is crowd sourcing, collaborating, and responding to a system that has cheated them of a real future for so long. Armed with the truth, it hasn't taken long for people to see when rules have been manipulated in a cheating game.  It is Ukraine's gift of patience and fortitude that has made them respond to the smell of tyranny, to stand witness to a manipulative bully, and to speak truth to the power which once held them ransom.

In these changing times, I hope the world continues to be ruled by love, truth and honest family values and that the Golden Rule applies to everyone, including Ukraine.  Who will stand to get the bully and his gang off the field?

Little Hands, Big Hearts

The creative arts play an immense role in the transformation of thinking.  Each life can be full, rich and vibrant through the simple act of creative communication.  That is what the arts foster.  In each of our lives there are ideas that simply cannot be adequately expressed in words, and require the subtleness of an arts expression. It is so with music, dance, and many plastic arts - plastic means to bend.  
Grade 3 Art amk2013
Grade 3 Art amk2013
Grade 3 Art amk2013
These little art projects came from little hands. Their ideas about what is beautiful about Ukrainian people find expression in small statuettes, hand formed of clay, and painted in the bright, happy colours of hope and dreams. 
Grade 3 Art amk2013
Note the embroidered messages, the flowers, the star and colours.  Note the smiling faces, confident and proud.  Note the traditional clothing, practical aprons, festive wreaths, practical belts, and strong postures.   Ready for work, for play, for work and for creating community together.  

Many of us have celebrated our identity in the creation of Ukrainian arts.  It is a language that communicates over time and space - straight to the heart.  Lovely!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Calgary Prays for Ukraine - Moleben'

What a difference a day makes!  The political situation in Ukraine is very fluid, changing by the minute it seems.  Legal questions, procedural issues, the safety and security of citizens, property and finances, nervous energy! People leaving, people arriving, evidence appearing, public entry to formerly private residences, the stories of Ukraine circa February 22 are indeed interesting.  But is it a blessing or concerning to live in interesting times? It is a matter of faith perhaps.

Many Calgarians voiced their disappointment at not being able to participate in the prayer service called for earlier this week.  Fortunately, Calgarians have another opportunity to contribute to the surge of prayer energy being enacted for positive change in Ukraine. It is again time to join the community to light candles, give voice to prayers for peace, for the eternal memory of the departed, and to foster a wave of goodwill here in Canada, in the Ukrainian diaspora, and in the ancestral homeland - Ukraine.  Hospodi pomiluij!

Inviting all to prayer, please join the community's special Moleben' Prayer Service on Sunday, February 23, at 7PM at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 404 Meredith Road NE Calgary.  

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Calgary Prays for Ukraine

As so many of you may already be connected in one way or another with Ukraine and the diaspora, it is also possible you are paying attention to the travesty that is their government of late. Months of peaceful public protests that have been ignored or derided by the Yanukovich led government have galvanized people's resolve across Ukraine, the largest country in Europe. Good diaspora, citizens of free nations everywhere in the world, it is time to take up the issue of Ukraine's future. Sourcing information on public media one cannot help but recognize how recent events in Ukraine are unfolding. Since November, and into the last few evenings, the response of "power" to Kyiv's Maidan movement has been horrifying, but Black Tuesday revealed to the world the regime's open, active military action against the people of Ukraine. Numbers vary but thousands appear to have been treated for serious injuries and the sad reality that 30 souls have departed this earth as a result of their government's brutality towards citizens. Escalating tensions are indeed receiving public attention, at huge cost to Ukrainian society it is true. But truth must prevail.

If you haven't yet contacted your elected officials, asking for personal contact to confirm they are actively engaged in representing Canadian values in Ukraine, then please do. Contact the television stations, radio, media and share information. But here in Calgary the community will meet again on Thursday, February 20th to pray together for the fallen, and for wisdom and moral strength to prevail over the next pivotal events in the ancestral homeland of so many Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry. A service is set for 7 p.m.this Thursday in Calgary at Our Lady of the Assumption church on 6th Street N.E.

As a long time Canadian, I am assured by my elected official that Canada is doing everything in its power to affect positive change in Ukraine.   But if everyone you and I know applied pressure on our elected officials, there would come a tipping point when efforts may grow. And there will be a tipping point.

Time is short and the events in Ukraine are pressing. Please take active part as citizens of free and democratic nations everywhere. Slava Ukraini!

Ukrainian expats plan vigil in Calgary following deadly protests

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Razom 2 in Calgary

What an absolutely fabulous event!  Today's Razom 2 - A Fusion of Ukrainian Dance performed by Yevshan of Saskatoon, Tavria of Regina, Tryzub of Calgary and Rusalka of Winnipeg spectacularly showcased the finest Ukrainian dancing on the Canadian prairies - and perhaps even further! The four city tour features four of western Canada's longest serving, and most empowered Ukrainian Dance Ensembles whose captivating programs have engaged talented dancers in the creation of community - Razom!  Whoever dreamed up this unique fusion of different talents in one stellar show should be congratulated!  Wow!

Wasn't sure I wanted to head out in the minus whatever weather, but it was well worth the drive.  Calgary's South Alberta Jubilee Auditorium proved, again, to be a wonderful host venue for the important art of Ukrainian dance - actually perhaps it is now Ukrainian Canadian dance!  Four Ukrainian dance groups represented the Ukrainian communities of Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg, each with intricately designed choreography, and lovely outfits representing the different regions of Ukraine.  The program of 18 beautiful dances began with Virsky's Pryvit, meandered across Ukrainian regions including Bukovena, Polissia, Volyn', Kuban', Poltava, Transcarpathia, the Black Sea, and summed up with the absolutely amazing, and always loved Virsky Hopak.  The spirited dancers performed with class, grace, humor - flawless delivery. Based on Roman Brytan, the MC's statements, and the program of names, I have a strong impression that these are many generations Canadians, delighting in their youth, and the passionate art form of their ancestral homeland.  To perform a program of such artistry surely is a direct affirmation of the wonderful dance training of the various Dance Directors and Choreographers.  Clearly there is a very close bond among the dancers, their Dance Masters, and among the groups too!  Of course the opportunity to work collaboratively on such a program must have been super fun for all those involved.

I had the good fortune of sitting with two little ballerina dancers - the "fan club" of one of the Tryzub dancers who shared the stage in Calgary's Nutcracker.  Little Clara beamed with delight when she recognized her "lifter".  And behind me was an admiring group of perhaps former dancers, ooing and ahhing at all the most dancerly parts - clearly a knowledgeable audience.  Then a friend who picked up the dancing teacher role when I was making babies in Fort McMurray dropped into the chair next to me, equally impressed with the dancing.  Spoke briefly with some girls from Winnipeg, who absolutely adored working with the great people who put this show on the road.  What can I say?  Thankyou to all the Razom team - when are you doing this again?  And don't you think Edmonton should be on your next tour?

Hey, Winnipeg - make sure you get tickets soon!  

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Valentines in Fort McMurray?

The world is full of interesting Ukrainian stuff - including the Ukrainian dance club in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  And it seems that perhaps there is even more than simply Ukrainian dancing going on!  The Fort McMurray group - what ever they are called, are hosting a Ukrainian Valentine's social.  What a great idea!  In a city of almost a hundred thousand, there have got to be a few, maybe even more than a few Ukrainians.  Time for a party!

If you might be interested, try contacting Verlayne Flett at 780 792-0895 for more information about joining the fun at Fort McMurray's Ukrainian night for St.Valentines!  

Stephania's CD Release Event - March 2

Fans of great Ukrainian Estradna Musika will be thrilled to hear that Stephania Romaniuk is performing again - and releasing a great new recording of the songs of Bohdan Wesolowsky (among others). Joined by top jazz musicians from Calgary, her premier recording of all-new arrangements of Ukrainian retro-pop songs from the 30-50's will definitely redefine Ukrainian Cabaret! Imagine swing, latin jazz, rhumba, tango, bolero, and the wonderful vocal stylings of Stephania - wow!

The Ukrainian diaspora community really makes things happen - thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, and with financial support from a variety of foundations including the Taras Shevchenko Foundation, Бували дні, By-Gone Days will be a special addition to your listening favorites.

You can enjoy Stephania performing songs from her debut album on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at St. John's Institute (11024 82 Ave NW, Edmonton). For more information you can call (780) 439-2320. Make sure to get tickets soon - here is some contact information.

Great news! Stephania's song "Summer" will be featured on the Shevchenko Foundation's 50th Anniversary Commemorative Album!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Millenia's Upcoming CD Release Party

Just loving the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada these days! A century and more of proud Canadian citizenship, flavoured with a groundswell of love, appreciation and identification with the ancestral homeland! Where else can you find that?

Through the Ukrainian grapevine I heard there is no better way to share the love than a Ukrainian zabava! And for a very special zabava, it's time to for Millenia Band of Edmonton's upcoming CD release on Saturday, February 15, 2014!

It will be a great evening of Millenia's Ukrainian zabava music, a special performance by Dunai Дунай Ukrainian Dancers of Edmonton, and a traditionally delicious Ukrainian late lunch at almost midnight! Gotta keep up the energy for great zabava dancing into the wee hours! This is an all ages event!

The event will be held at the Oilfield Technical Society 2104 156 St. SW, Edmonton AB. Doors open at 8:00pm, show starts at 9:00pm, Saturday February 15th.

For more information check or at   Дякую!

Millenia is also playing for the Ukrainian Student's Club of the University of Alberta later in the month, too!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Calgary Helps Euromaidan

stone baba from Pereyaslav Khmelnitsky Museum
Calgary,  it is again time to stand with the ancients, in solidarity with the Euromaidan activists, for truth and freedom. Sharing information with the wider community today, and hoping for generous people of good will to stand in solidarity and support of the people of Ukraine in their struggle for a free and just governance, in their time of need. The situation in Ukraine continues to escalate and is extremely fragile. Conclusions and speculation about what might happen next are hard to say.  

An amazing groundswell of informed activists have carried the torch thus far. After nearly 10 weeks of struggle, in the wintry nights of November, and December of 2013, and continuing into late January of 2014, the world is finally paying attention. Unfortunately the peaceful Maidan of two months has now been followed by repressive laws and violent reactions from their government and military. Events teeter precariously in the next days and potentially weeks.   Ukrainian citizens need us to be citizens of the world, and help them ensure a dignified and honourable outcome for all of Ukraine, to help ensure positive change in their lives and livelihoods.  By standing in Independence Square and in various Maidan protests (including in Calgary) the world is sending a message of of solidarity, of hope that truth and dignity will prevail.  We stand resolutely, together for the good! The past is passed, and the future beacons!

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Calgary Branch is sharing this information widely in our community. 

On Sunday January 26th, there will be Varenyky (perogies) on sale at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church Hall from 10:30-1:30 with all proceeds going to support Euromaidan activists standing in Kyiv's Independence Square, Hrushevskiy Street and elsewhere. 

ALSO: at 4:00 pm there will be another rally, peaceful protest and small prayer service at the Olympic Plaza downtown Calgary. Bring your blue and yellow gear as well as your hearts for those who need our support! 

Please spread the word to your family and friends by sharing this post. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Had Fun At Malanka

Malanka has a great sentimental value for me.  Met my husband at a Malanka.  And the tradition continues, it seems, in the ways of ancient times.  Put young people together and instantly there is fun, energy, and a renewal of promise.  The New Year,  Ukrainian style!

Calgary's Plast Malanka last night was a great, fun evening.  It probably helped that the weather is chinooking, so nobody had to wear long-johns!  Evening wear and sparkle, a comfortable and attractive venue, great food and amazing entertainment - the evening had it all.

First, the young adults of Plast led the crowd into the hall with koliady коляди
(Traditional Ukrainian Christmas Carols)!  MC Zennia Martynkiw invited Sister Laura to lead the singing of Boh Predvichney Бог Предвічний followed by a Blessing.  The Petroleum Club chef's best Chicken Kyiv, supplemented with traditional Ukrainian foods including varennyky вареники  (pyrohy) and holubtsi голубці  (cabbage rolls) was delivered with excellent service.  Then Ukrainian violinist Vasyl Popadiuk - Papa Duke dazzled the crowd with a fabulous virtuoso program that hinted at ancestry, yet featured a deep soulful intertwining of international cultures - in a way only musicians can.  Brilliant ballerina Tania Chumak (of Calgary Plast) performed a piece in honor of the dignity movement in Ukraine, to the musically generous new composition sung and played by Stephania Romaniuk.  Then Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble of Edmonton brought three separate and interesting Ukrainian dances to the stage, wholeheartedly filling the room with smiles. And if that wasn't enough, the energy kept coming with The Real Deal's mix of R&B, funk, and rock and roll. The dance floor was still hopping when Calgary's Zhyto Band began
the kolomeika which had some fun and humorous offerings, too!  At midnight everyone at Malanka encircled the hall to sing De Zhoda v Rodyni, Where there is Peace in the Family!  Such a great feeling of community as everyone reached out to hug another person, instantly bonding community!  Zhyto kept the hall bouncing with great Ukrainian music until the wee hours - but sadly everything comes to an end.  Friendships and perhaps more might burble into the wee hours, and I'll bet social media sites will continue to buzz about Malanka 2014.

Popadiuk took a plane home to Toronto, brave Vohon dancers drove the three hours back home to Edmonton through the night, and guests disappeared in the night, some planning flights home to places like Winnipeg, Vancouver, Regina while the Plast organizers took account of the silent auction and the rave reviews.  What a great night!

ps sorry the pics are lousy, using a smart phone from a distance - gotta solve that!

Friday, 17 January 2014

From the Heart of a Woman
For an afternoon of Christian fellowship, heart health information and a hands-on Ukrainian "bake and take" activity women of all ages are invited to a very lovely afternoon event called "From the Heart" on Saturday, February 1, 2014.  The Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada, Calgary Branch invites you to register or seek more information from Marla
or Lori for the event. 

I remember being at their last event a couple of years ago and fascinated at the mix of lovely people there - the room was filled from edge, to edge to edge.  Such a very warm, intelligent, and community rich experience! Clearly the women of Calgary enjoyed the event, and UWAC Calgary has planned another women's day!

Bring $5 for entry, knowing all proceeds will be donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta. You can help women in need by bringing sample sized hand lotion, perfume, shampoo (etc), and new women's socks and underwear, to assemble Valentine Gift Bags for our Southern Alberta Sisters in Need.

Saturday, February 1, 2014
St. Vladimir’s Cultural Center
404 Meredith Road N.E.
1:00 p.m.

Remember to bring a friend!

Good News Red Deer!

The Good News is that people who dream big can bring fields of opportunity to bear much fruit. And in this great Nativity season, while Christmas Carollers in the Ukrainian tradition may sprinkle wheat seeds to ensure successful crops and prosperity for the host family, more seeds are being sown in Red Deer's Ukrainian Orthodox Community - and soon to bear much fruit!

The Red Deer UOCC Parish has grown from its hopeful mission status and now the physical task of Church Temple Building has arrived. With hope, faith and charity, the good people at St. John's Cultural Center (Edmonton), Viter Ukrainian Dancers and Folk Choir and special guest artist Theresa Sokyrka are enthusiastically contributing to this important fundraising evening. For more information call 403-700-9942 or contact

Perhaps you will agree that in Canada, this wonderful land of opportunity, all of Ukrainian Alberta truly stops being strangers to one another's needs, and contributes to days of promise, faith and community.