August 6, 2016

This year’s Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion of the city of Winnipeg’s annual Folklorama festival offered great hospitality with delicious food and a stage show that had the audience clapping along with the music and cheering throughout the exciting performances. The well-trained volunteers had the hospitality routine down to an art as they ushered guests in and out of the main event hall and around to the exhibits, food vendors and gift shop areas.

The basic theme of the Pavilion was, or course, Canada’s celebration of 125 years of official Ukrainian immigration to this country and the amazing contributions that they made toward the growth and development of what Canada is today. To celebrate this milestone, the Kyiv Pavilion set up a display of artifacts that can be traced back to the days of our Ukrainian pioneers in the late 19th Century. In fact many of the artifacts – clothing, tools, artwork and even furniture - were brought by the immigrants from Ukrainian lands. The Pavilion organizers must be congratulated that they did not shy away from pointing out how central the Christian Faith was to the Ukrainian immigrants. It permeated their everyday experience and became all the more important to them as they found themselves strangers in this strange new land. They experienced unbelievably harsh conditions and sometimes they were even challenged by earlier settlers who were warry of these new people. Their Faith was their comfort and their courage and their inspiration. An excellent exhibit from Alberta sponsored by the Peter and Doris Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore and entitled “Making a New Home: Ukrainian Canadian Pioneer Experiences” attested to this. One panel of this display explained the hundreds of great and small Ukrainian churches that are found today all across Canada – in particular the Western Provinces. “The majority of the immigrants were strongly religious, and placed a high priority on building a church. Early communities often pooled resources and labour to build one as soon as they could.” It recounted what our grandparents had already passed along to us – that the people would hold whatever services that they could with the local ‘dyak’ (cantor) leading the singing. However, when priests were eventually able to at least pass through from time to time, it was always a major event of spiritual renewal with the Eucharistic Liturgy being the highpoint. The wide range of artifacts for the displays were provided by some of Manitoba’s collections found at the St. Volodymyr Musem at the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Winnipeg and the Ukrainian Museum in Gardenton, among others.

This year the Ambassadors were William Chabluk and Marcia Romaniuk. The Youth Ambassadors were Alex Hryndzio and Adrianna Krawczuk. The masters of ceremonies varied each evening and they always did an excellent job of moving the program along and offering the audience all the information they needed to appreciate the performances. The Pavilion coordinators were: Adam Hluszok; Elaine Capar and Alyssa Wachniak.

It was a week for many people to learn more about Ukrainian culture, history and spirit or to have their first encounter with the sights, sounds and emotions of the Ukrainian soul. Many people from the Ukrainian comunity itself enjoyed meeting up with each other at some point during the week. The many volunteers and workers of "Kyiv" can now enjoy a break and maybe spend some time relaxing and visiting next week's "Spirit of Ukraine" Pavilion and all the many other pavilions that Folklorama has to offer!

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