August 10, 2019


On the eve of the second week of Winnipeg's now world famous festival of nations - FOLKLORAMA 2019 - the Kyiv Pavilion held a special event to honour a co-founder of Folklorama and the Kyiv Pavilion - Cecil Semchyshyn. It was an afternoon of excellent performances, heartfelt speeches and, of course, wonderful Ukrainian cuisine.

As Folklorama and the founding Pavilions all celebrate 50-years this summer, the Kyiv Pavilion very aptly chose a theme that would honour all the hundreds of selfless volunteers that dedicate their time and talent year after year. The theme is, "It Takes a Village". One of the great "elders" of the microcosmic global village that is Folklorama and the 'village' that is the Ukrainian Pavilion "Kyiv" - is Cecil Semchyshyn. Cecil was a pharmacist by profession, but he was truly known by everyone as the great promoter of Canada's multiculturism through many governments on all levels. He always had a special place on his heart for his own rich Ukrainian culture that he promoted and encouraged others to hold dear and promote whenever possible. The celebration on August 10 brought back a flood of memories - and not a few tears - to his family, but also everyone in attendance that remembered Cecil and his "life and times". It was a wonderful life and the times were fantastic.

Besides his organizational and promotional skills, Cecil Semchyshyn was well known for his performances as an actor and singer and certainly as the sought after master of ceremonies. He brought class and excellence to every stage and every event. Some celebrities, like James Earl Jones, are known for their voices, well, Cecil Semchyshyn had an extraordinary voice that commanded attention and confidence and was truly entertaining in the best sense. He was the voice of the Ukrainian Community and the voice of his generation and, although he is still missed, he laid foundations and set in motion extraordinary endeavours that are still blossoming today. The Kyiv Pavilion, God bless them, wanted to be sure that Cecil was duly remembered and recognized.

The afternoon began with a dinner which was followed by a concert and program. His Grace Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak opened the program with a prayer and blessing that recognized the special contribution of Cecil Semchyshyn and also all Folklorama volunteers. The Olexander Koshetz Choir and a mixed choir under the direction of Myroslava Paches sang the Lord's Prayer and a few religious and folk selections. The Hoosli Choir also performed as did the Todaschuk Sisters and the Orlan Ukrainian Folk Ensemble.

The Special guests of honour were the Semchyshyn Family. At one point, Cecil Semchyshyn's three children who also followed him into medical and health careers, Dr. Mark Semchyshyn, Dr. Nadine Semchyshyn and Laryssa Garrick, all came on stage to receive an award on their late father's behalf. The presentation of the award was made by Joanne Lewandosky, the President of the Manitoba Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Dr. Taras Babick, a long time friend and associate of Cecil Semchyshyn. Dr. Babick also deleivered a very heartfelt personal tribute to Cecil Semchyshyn.

Everyone that was present was glad to have been part of a truly moving event that brought back many memories of the early years of Folklorama and the extraordinary team spirit that makes the Ukrainian Pavilions and Folklorama what it is today.

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