Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Road to Ending Violence Against Women

The World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations represents the interests of Ukrainian Women at the United Nations, through its Economic and Social Council and through its subsidiary bodies.  Each year the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women has is a two week session in the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.  International attendees to this session  number in the thousands.  And representatives of all the Ukrainian Women's Organizations worldwide participate too.

I recall sitting as a representative of the Calgary's Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada on the Calgary Local Council of Women.  That was a while ago, just about the time the Natasha's, written by Victor Malarek was gaining attention by the women's community.  Bringing his book to the meeting started a lively discussion, and the book disappeared into the hands of some powerful women who later brought this issue to the attention of  provincial and national bodies of the Council of Women.  It received attention! 

All women can have a similar impact!  It just takes a few very well placed words to bring important issues forward.  It is a small drop in the bucket, however every drop adds up, and eventually becomes a deluge!  That is what women can do together.

Eliminating and Preventing All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls is the topic of a panel co-hosted by the United Nations Committee on the Family (New York) and The World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations.    I know that Calgary's women stand in solidarity with those suffering from gender-based violence.

This International Women's Day at 2:30 til 4 PM at the Church Center of the United Nations Plaza in the Boss Room ( 8th floor)  - Friday, March 8, 2013 the World Federation of Ukrainian Women’s Organizations and the UN NGO Committee on the Family( NY) will host

When Will the Violence Against Women and Girls Stop?
Global Solutions

"Mobilizing Outrage: Women Reacting to Public and Private Violence in Ukraine and elsewhere: Comparative Strategies"
Martha Kichorowska Kebalo, PhD
"Strategies to Convince Men in Developing Countries to Stop Sexual Violence"
Mr. Rehman Azhar, LL.M.

Moderator: Dr. Janet Sigal, Co-chair, UN NGO Committee on the Family, NY
American Psychological Association Main Representative to the United Nations,
Co-editor with Florence L. Denmark, Violence against Girls and Women: International Perspectives (In Press)

This non governmental organization parallel event is organized by the World Federation of Ukrainian Women's Organizations (WFUWO) with the United Nations non governmental organization Committee on the Family, NY and co-sponsored by the American Psychological Association; World Organization for Early Childhood Education; Make Mothers Matter International; International Federation for Home Economics; Universal Peace Federation; New Future Foundation, Inc.; Harlem Women International; International Council of Psychologists.

While in Edmonton I heard that a similar meeting would be held there - would one of the readers place the information in the comments box for everyone to share?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chester Kuc has Passed

When the Edmonton Ukrainian community thinks of Ukrainian dancing, a giant of a man rises in the memory. With a passion for everything Ukrainian, and a talent for community involvement nurtured by thoughtful and future's oriented parents, it is so hard to say Vichna Pamyat' (Eternal Memory) for Chester Kuc, who fell asleep in the Lord in the early morning hours of February 16, 2013.

A huge love of everything Ukrainian, with musical talent, drama skills, artistic hands and eyes, the Ukrainian community will probably mention the power of his impact on Ukrainian dancing on the prairies first. The formation of one of the largest dance schools in Edmonton, and the founding and artistic direction of both the Shumka Dancers and Cheremosh are just the most visible reminders of his work. Recognized over the years for his dedication to community, artistic work, and numerous high level ethno-cultural activities over his lifetime, Chester also received prestigious awards and accolades internationally. A gift of time, talent and treasure, Chester himself was a treasure. Highly knowledgeable in the arts, he was particular and conducted extensive research to assure authenticity in both stage representation of culture and materials, amassing a huge collection of artifacts in a variety of genres. His talent for always finding time for the important things in life allowed him to develop close ties, and influence the level of expertise across the arts spectrum, but especially so in the Ukrainian community. A father, a husband, a person of great vision and faith in the Ukrainian Canadian community has passed.
Prayers for Chester Kuc will be served on Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. at St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 10951 - 107 Street. The Funeral Rite will be served on Friday, February 22 at 10:00 a.m. at St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral with Right Reverend Stephan Semotiuk officiating with interment in St. Michael's Cemetery.
In typical fashion, the family has requested that any donations made in Chester's memory be made to Kule Chair for Ukrainian Ethnography or to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, 202, 952 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R2W 3P4.
To send condolences, visit

Eternal Memory!  Vichna Pamyat'!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Sweets, Ukrainian Culture and Poetry

So many exciting projects taking shape in Alberta's Ukrainian world! Time for you to meet Myroslava Uniat - whom I have it on good account is a poet, and a very interesting, enthusiastic person! She is inviting students, teachers and those interested in Ukrainian culture and poetry to the Carrot Art Cafe at 9351-118 Avenue (http://artsontheave.org/thecarrot/) in Edmonton to see her video poetry, hear her poetry read, and be part of an exciting, sweet and inspiring arts experience!

Come for coffee and sweets (special things with Ukrainian flavour) on Sunday, February 24 from 3-5 PM for an event that is part of the Spoken Word Centre "Siajvo" community. You may also take part in some of her fun exercises for writing too!

"Siajvo" is also planning a similar event for March 17 at 6 PM about Ukrainian songs, inviting musicians and songwriter to attend. More information to come!

Myroslava has already had an impact on a young generation of Ukrainian Canadians, including Edmonton videographer Cassian Soltykevych and Calgary musician Daria Storoschuk. Stimulating creative juices - check this out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IP5WZfKN8dg.

Calgary Bandura Lessons

How very exciting that Calgary has become and economic magnet, attracting talented people from around the globe! With new immigration from Ukraine there are now very interesting opportunities - for Calgary and for the new arrivals.

One such new opportunity has arrived in the person of Iryna (Melnyk)  Kalinovich, a person of musical talent and professional bandura training. If you were at Calgary's Ukrainian Christmas Carol Festival in December 2012, you may have enjoyed her lovely performance of "Sleep Little Baby Jesus" a favorite lullaby in the Ukrainian Christmas music tradition. If not, enjoy it here at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jonIBJFbds.

A contemporary of Iryna has already set up her heritage school of bandura in California - can you imagine if Calgary could have something similar?  Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tDMS0wSDk0

Currently living in Cochrane, Alberta with her husband Robert, the newly transplanted banduristka will be happy to work with both adult and children bandura amateurs, beginners and experienced. Weekend and evening lessons are available, just call Iryna at 403-926-4425.

Приватні уроки бандури з професійним викладачем. Рада працювати як з дорослими і дітьми, початківцями, так і досвідченими. Вечорами та у вихідні дні уроки доступні в Cochrane.

Call or text Iryna at: 403-926-4425

For more about the National Instrument of Ukraine you can watch another  master of bandura from Kyiv at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJeBgeMcuyc.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

HART Helping Children in Ukraine

Calgary is blessed with social services, care networks, and support for people who are on hard times. Whether unemployed, or caught in the spiral of addictions, fighting physical or mental disabilities, or victims of crimes - we are so fortunate.  Medical coverage, emergency services, drop in centers and shelter for the homeless - these are all products of forethought and humanitarian thinking. But it is very different in other places in the world.

With the collapse of "empire", Ukraine's early moments of independence in the modern era were filled with challenges, among them poverty, and spiritual need.  Personally confronted with the stark realities of Ukraine in the 1990's HART President and Founder Lloyd Z. Cenaiko (originally of Saskatchewan) felt the call to help his ancestral homeland. With the Humanitarian Aid Response Teams - International Relief, he has gathered similar minded change leaders to energize and provide resources to needy people in Eastern Europe- specifically Ukraine.

HART is again hosting their Annual Summer Camp Auction and Ukrainian Dinner here in Calgary on Friday, March 15, 2013.  The goal of this fundraiser is to help send 4,000 to 5,000 underprivileged children from Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus to summer camp.  Children with special needs, orphans, the homeless, kids from juvenile detention homes, and those in poverty could benefit from this mission of hope - with Calgary's support.

The event takes place at Centre Street Church - 3900-2nd Street NE, Calgary.

For tickets or for more information contact HART at 403-230-8263  or tickets@hart.ca

Edmonton Shevchenko Event 2013

Can you imagine telling your child, or any child for that matter, to stop being artistic? To stop drawing, to stop painting, to stop versifying?  Can you imagine your child being held in serfdom for years - picking up after the "boss" and polishing shoes, folding undergarments for a grown man?  

This was the experience of the little boy who was Taras Hryhorievych Shevchenko.  Born in 1814, and left an orphan by the early passing of his parents, he was caught in the spiral of serfdom.  He was a slave.  A little boy, a slave.  

In today's terms, his childhood was stolen by a system of serfdom he had no hope of escaping.  But he did.  Moments of benevolent care made it possible for him to draw, to paint, to rhyme - and somehow his brilliance caught the attention of a person who could rescue him from a life of servitude.  

He was bought out of serfdom while a student at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art - a serf under the Russian Empire - freed by friends and patrons who saw the huge potential of his genius.  He was a romantic, reveling in the history and folklore of his ancestry, caught in nostalgia, but urged by contemporary events to a more somber portrayal of Ukrainian History.  For this he was forced into exile and compulsory military service.  His crime?  To write the true stories of his people, he wrote about the relationship of the ruling empire and oppression of the land and people of his ancestry.  

Forbidden to write, what is an artist to do?  Trapped by circumstances, his creative juices treated historical and moral issues which resonate in the Ukrainian world today.  They resonate as human rights issues the world over.  The resonate for women, for children and for politicians.   

The Ukrainian Music Society of Alberta and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress-Edmonton Branch invite you to the Shevchenko Concert on Sunday, March 10 at 2:30 PM at the Ukrainian Youth Unity Complex, 9615-153 Ave. Edmonton. 

Tickets may be purchased at Ukrainian Social Services - 11717-97 Street or 780-471-4477

Meest - 10834-97 Street - or 780-424-1777

Orbit - 10219-97 Street or 780-422-5693

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Calgary Shevchenko Event 2013

The Bard of Ukraine, Taras Shevchenko left a legacy of art, poetry and stories of regular people, elevated through literature, and remembered for their humanity.  Their hopes, dreams and aspirations continue to speak over nearly two centuries since his birth. In similar vein, the Ukrainian diaspora is collectively concerned about identity, freedom, Ukrainian language use, and its place in the Ukrainian idea.  A pantheon of great thinkers have been of similar thought. Nurtured on Shevchenko's words, his countrymen are a great nation with many gifts to share with the world.  But this is also a challenge, because he reminds that it is collective memory, the language, culture and traditions that bear the stories of history, perspective for understanding the present, and an image of what could be possible in the future! The Annual  Taras Shevchenko Concert is an opportunity to express just these types of ideas - to flesh them out for the contemporary age.

The Calgary Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is of such a mindset.  The 2013 Annual Taras Shevchenko Concert held on March 10, at 3 PM at the Assumption Church Hall on 7th Avenue and 6th Street NE, Calgary is dedicated to the idea - our language, our freedom.

for info call- 403-276-1835 or halyawilson@shaw.ca

калґарський відділ КОНҐРЕСУ УКРАЇНЦІВ КАНАДИ запрошує

10-ого БЕРЕЗНЯ 2013 в 3ті годині пополудні

в церковні залі Успення 704 Sixth Street N. E.

за дальші інформації - halyawilson@shaw.ca  403-276-1835

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

National Congress of Ukrainian Catholic Women's League of Canada 2013

The fabric of the  Ukrainian Canadian community is a tapestry of many, many special  individuals who generously volunteer their time, talents and treasure in meritorious organizations that benefit all Canadians. One such group is the Ukrainian Catholic Women's League of Canada, whose open arms welcome all newcomers!

With a commitment to the Church, nurturing cultural heritage, and providing resources for living an authentic Christian life, the UCWLC does good work.

They will be holding their 2013 National Convention  in Saskatoon this spring on June 27-30, 2013.   For more information contact your local Ukrainian Catholic church.

Pra-Did's Language

Unabashedly Canadian, my ancestral lineage nonetheless derives from Ukraine.  Though my family has been here over a century, we strive to maintain our language, culture and traditions.  It is so normal for us, however I know that other families have experienced other forms of assimilation in Canada.  Perhaps my family just stubbornly called it "who we are".

So when meeting new Canadians, new arrivals from the ancestral lands of Ukraine, it continues to strike me so odd that some of them carry perceptions of their homeland that are so different from mine.   Call me naive, but it seems that if a person grows up in a country with such a vast and impressive treasure of history one would feel proud to speak the language and revel in its beauty.  I love speaking English too.  But it doesn't deter me from wanting to retain Ukrainian for my - hopefully - children's children....etc.  There is just something delicious about singing the baby songs, praying in pra-did's language, and knowing this honors the ties that go back centuries.  The smells, the tastes, the fabric of time - these things bring me great joy.

Many people of Ukraine have suffered, it is true, due to the political acts of the "rulers".  It is not even subtle.  Forcing generations of Ukrainians to assimilate into a fabricated culture - the Soviet culture - all while stripping them of their spirituality, the heroic stories of history,  ancestral memory, and language of their forefathers is just beyond me.  Dishonorable if nothing else.  There is a dehumanizing sense about it all - that certain people have less worth, that robbing people of their dignity, their spirits, their property, their land, their culture is ....  Usurping historical truths, it is like a bully who believes the louder the noise, the truer the lie.

On the other hand, I know of wonderful people who have performed mission work the world over, working to preserve ancestral songs, rebuild communities whose domestic way of life has been shattered through no fault of their own.  Good people doing good work for a world that needs help.  It is time to speak truth to power.  Thank heavens for people of moral conviction.

Did you know that in the 2013 year, Ukraine could celebrate the 1025 year since its baptism into the Christian faith?  That is a ridiculously important idea too.  Imagine, Ukraine existed that long ago as a unified  nation, and the faith was accepted as the state religion that long ago, the kings and queens were welcomed in houses of European royalty, and ... Well, what historical truths have been intentionally twisted? Whose loud stories have we been suckered into hearing?   Who owns history?  What bully in our midst has asserted, postured, manipulated and usurped?  Well, truth has a subtle way of expressing itself - quietly, quietly, it simply is.

I wonder what the Ukrainian Christian community in Calgary is planning for the 2013 year?  

National Internment Art Mural Project


The Sunflower is widely accepted as the flower of Ukraine. It's head smilingly follows the sun through the day's journey across the sky. Fields of Sunflowers grow on Ukraine's Farmlands, for its rich oil - Beauty, Food, and Balm.

The scattered seeds of the Sunflower, those thousands of men, women and children of Ukraine and Eastern Europe who were affected by the internment operations in Canada during World War 1 will be honored with a special project being launched February 20, 2013.   Vernon, British Columbia Artist Michelle Lougherty is announcing the official launch of this National Internment Art Mural Project. Specially created murals, designed to capture the imagination of viewers with the purpose of edifying the memory of those persons and their families will be appearing in communities across Canada over the next few years.

The artist, Michelle Lougherty is exploring her personal family's experience through this project. Her direct connections with the people, their lives, the hardship, the trauma, fear and shame - and the unusual manner in which this ancestral experience has shaped her life will come to life on the murals. Ultimately, she and her team will be mounting murals across Canada, in the 24 locations associated with the Internment experience.

At a loss for words, I struggle with this period myself - knowing that my family also lost contact with persons known to them through this experience. Where they went, what was their fate, what experiences they weathered - the stories are yet untold. For it is these stories that continue to resonate just under the surface of the bubbling Ukrainian community in Calgary I believe. Proud to be Ukrainian? Perhaps some families had it drummed out of them, and they have assimilated as quickly as was possible - severing ties with family and ancestral memory.

If you are in any way moved by this experience, I sincerely hope you will open the conversation with individuals in our midst whose lives were touched by Canada's National Internment Operation of the World War 1 period. Our Canadian history, ancestral culture, and social fabric of the community could all benefit from this opportunity of healing.

As the artist says "it is only in learning from the past, ...we become the wings of a better future".

St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in Vernon, British Columbia - on February 20, 2013 - at 2 PM will be the launch of this project, an opportunity for project coordinators and those moved by the Internment experience to collaborate. Those who have historical artifacts of the period, or photos, or recollections, may be able to contribute to the shaping of these murals - please consider this as a gift of your time, for Canada's future.

For more information go to www.internmentcanada.ca.

And for more about the Sunflower Project go to www.michelleloughery.org.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sadochok Open House

Calgary is home to a wonderful Ukrainian preschool program! St. Vladimir's Sadochok has grown so positively over its 25 year existence! The program is again making strides in service and excellence in child care programming.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 from 7 to 8:30 they are hosting a visit for fans and newcomers to feature changes that are making Sadochok one of the most sought after preschool programs in the city of Calgary. Sadochok is welcoming ongoing registrations, too.  

Sadochok is located just across the Bow River from Calgary's city core. With excellent parking, open air playground, gym and sunshine filled classrooms, this is a program for native speakers of Ukrainian, and those seeking an embracing introduction to the culture and traditions. They also have an innovative manner of addressing a variety of schedule needs.

For more information check

Shevchenko Bi-Centennial 1814-2014

Every culture has its heroes.  They represent the highest ideals, the dreams of the common people.  Heroes struggle to overcome challenges we all face, and rise to a new plateau of understanding - rising above human experience and encouraging us to aspire to their heights.

Ukrainians have such a hero in the figure of Taras Shevchenko.  The bicentennial of his birth in 1814 is an event of exceptional nationwide importance.  This is perhaps even more so for the Ukrainian community beyond the borders of their ancestral homeland.  His creative legacy, the literary and philosophical underpinnings are note worthy.  But the manner in which his work has spurred the development of Ukrainian social and cultural thought in a European and global sense is something special to recognize, acknowledge and celebrate. His literary contribution to modern Ukrainian literature is huge!  Some believe it has shaped the trajectory of modern Ukrainian language!  The true genius of Taras Shevchenko is constantly being re-appreciated.  His Kobzar, the writings, poetry have been translated into the major languages of the world.  An appreciative world  audience considers him one of the greatest humanist writers.  He is also one of the most outstanding realist painters in the mid 19 century Ukrainian and Russian art.

It will soon be time to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko's birth, in March 2014.  It is exciting to consider what his creative legacy will bring to the 21 century of Ukrainian diasporan thought!

Calgary is invited to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Annual TARAS SHEVCHENKO CONCERT this March 10, 2013 at Assumption Church Hall - check for details soon.

But in the meanwhile, you can check these sites for more about Taras Shevchenko - Bard of Ukraine.

Visit the Taras Shevchenko museum in Toronto through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ShevchenkoMuseum

Calgary's young people involved Ukrainian Youth Association CYM has presented lovely Shevchenko themed items recently -check this Youtube video of Shevchenko's Kateryna.


Saturday, 2 February 2013


There are moments, and there are moments.  How does one learn to stay present in the moment, and yet understand that it is but a moment?

Some moments just feel completely blissful! They are brighter than others, and that bliss settles deep in your bones, if only for a moment! Then we simply don't say anything, to anyone about that moment!  But in not saying anything aloud, do we relegate the moment to memory, or is it simply forgotten?

Well, this is about my bliss.

My dad was very tenuously holding onto life, when the call came.  The drive there was time to ponder and pray. So I sang!  Amid the tears were moments of pure joy, radiance, then pure sorrow with a deluge of loneliness across the stretch of highway. When I arrived to hold his still warm hand, a jolt of recognition hit me.  The celestial faucet didn't know whether it should feel grief or comfort.  This was one of those moments, a forever moment full of bliss.  Pure joy for a precious life, and pure sorrow for its repose.  More than happiness, and deeply sad, awed by the mystery and the promise, I felt intense gratitude.

It was a moment full of color, of warmth, of peace and faith deep in my bones. How is it possible at this moment of his passing that I should feel such buoyant health?

We know to stay present in the moment, but can we fathom that a person's entire life of moments, amounts to a single moment in the measuring of time that spans eternity.  It makes a person realize that bliss is the reason we are here!  We live if only to taste this bliss for a moment.

The moment in time when my hand held his, I felt the exultation of spirit, the immense delight at witnessing the mystery of life, a peak moment filled with humility. The thin veil of life being pushed aside, the wonder at what my dad might discover next.

Conventional wisdom isn't mine, it was good to not run from this life moment.  For all the sorrow, it was a transient moment full of a sense of something omnipresent.  Searching for an answer wasn't necessary.  My dad's entire being spoke to me as I stood here holding his hand, "beautiful!"

Friday, 1 February 2013

Spirituality and Symbols

Calgary is the home of three Ukrainian Christian communities - three Christian churches.  Since the building of the first Ukrainian church in Calgary in 1912, these communities have all served the spiritual needs of Calgarians, Southern Albertans, family and guests from far and wide.  The mission work of these congregations involves meeting the need to commune - to live together, think together, and pray together as one Christian family.

How fortunate we are to live in a democracy that guarantees the freedom to associate, freedom to believe, freedom to choose how we express our faith - things some Canadians may often take for granted.  From time to time, it might be good to recall some of the reasons why immigrants choose this democratic nation for a home!!  Good to remember why it is a place we cherish and pray to preserve for generations to come!

How fortunate for spiritually thirsty Ukrainian Canadians that communities continue to congregate together, use the ancestral language and traditions, honor the saints and Saints of our ancestral homeland, and pray that our comings and goings will be judged favourably by eternity.   

What is a Ukrainian church?  What is a Greek church or a Bulgarian church or a ......whatever ethnicity you choose?  Ukrainians have choices it seems.  Or perhaps, the world is trying to decide what to do with Ukrainian choices.

I truly believe that knowledge is essential for self understanding.  Unfortunately, knowledge itself doesn't always equal insight.  That is, perhaps, why the Ukrainian Christian world continues to ponder its future.  Historic documents speak volumes, but in every re-reading, with every new context, they deliver a richer picture.  Some people drink wine, some become overly engaged in wine drinking, but then some become connoisseurs - people who understand the subtle notes, the fleeting flavour, and the enduring end note - whose opinions are valued and considered - for their insight. For it is true that every good thing comes with a cost.

In following Uke Tube, some of these topics of interest are discussed. 

Ethnicity, Symbolism and Orthodox Christianity


Canonical Territories & the Ukrainian Orthodox Church


Chambésy & the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada


Canonicity & the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada