Starting in December 2022, events celebrating Ukrainian culture took place across British Columbia. From Victoria to Prince Rupert, communities came together to learn about Ukrainian culture and traditions, and to welcome their new neighbours. This was possible because of United for Ukraine Local Love grants.
Every event had a local flare, like the several groups that came together in New Westminster during a Christmas Market to offer everything from workshops to concerts. The “Ukrainian Kolyada” combined a mini exhibition of the main characters of the Ukrainian Christmas rite Kolyada (Motanka Angel and Koza) and the opportunity to have a photo taken with a mannequin of the character as a memory. As well, a master class was held to popularize the folk art and traditions of celebrating Ukrainian Christmas. As part of preserving their cultural heritage, participants made traditional toys and decorated ornaments. On Christmas Eve, a Ukrainian Choir comprising 23 displaced Ukrainians performed 10 popular Ukrainian carols during a candlelight concert.
While winter and Christmas were celebrated in several communities, like Victoria and Kelowna, the new year brought new also traditions and events.
From Food Master Classes to Easter Pysanky, there was something for everyone to join
Proving hugely successful in both Burnaby and Kamloops, Food Master Classes brought together communities to learn and prepare traditional Ukrainian dishes. “Food made with Love: Ukrainian-Canadian Cuisine Cooking Show” in Kamloops was designed by Dr. Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov as part of Ukrainian Diaspora Studies to share the knowledge and meaning of Ukrainian-Canadian cuisine. Participants made dishes, such as Borscht, Varenyky (dumplings), salads, and Uzvar (a yummy fruit-berry drink).
As one participant in Kamloops said, “Thank you. Such a wonderful initiative. I hope it will continue to allow community to come together and learn about Ukrainian-Canadian cuisine.”
More recently over Easter, community members in Prince Rupert had the opportunity to learn about Easter Pysanky and how to paint traditional eggs. With 29 attendees, including children and non-Ukrainians, the workshop was so successful that there is demand for more similar events. One person said, “Thank you so much! Everyone enjoyed themselves, had lots of fun and learned a lot. It was a fun, encouraging, and relaxing environment for all.” An upcoming event in May will also see participants learning about Vinok (Ukrainian headdress) and how to make them.
Traditional workshops and events were not the only way Ukrainians shared their culture with local communities. The 209th Anniversary of Taras Shevchenko’s birthday was celebrated in Vancouver. A poet and artist, Shevchenko (also known as Kobzar) was also an important public and political figure, folklorist, and ethnographer. The event included poetry readings, as well as other cultural and art activities for families.
Cultural events bringing people together
Another cultural event was held in Vancouver during February and included free workshops on motanka dolls, petrykivka painting, Lviv glass painting, birds of peace (children’s workshop), Ukrainian embroidery and vynok (headcrown) making workshops. Over 500 people attended and were treated to a performance of a professional Banduirst (Bandura is a traditional Ukrainian string instrument). In March, a workshop educated participants about the Ukrainian Head Scarf. From “Peremitky,” “Namitky,” and “Khustky,” each region of Ukraine had its own unique style, ornament, and colors.
Although funding for the United for Ukraine Local Love grants has closed for the time being, a few more funded events are still in the planning stages. A photo exhibition titled “New Lives, Same People. Ukrainians in Wartime” is planned for May 17- 18 at the Beaumont Studio in Vancouver. As well, an art show of displaced Ukrainian children’s art, “Ukrainian Child and Youth Expressive Art Show” is happening in June in New Westminster.
In Kelowna, a focus will be put on children’s learning with a mobile library that provides Ukrainian children’s books accessible to families. The library will kick off with an event on June 17 and will feature a story reading by Ukrainian mothers.
It has been an inspiring few months of activities and cultural learnings, bringing together families and individuals in communities to welcome their new Ukrainian neighbours. The United for Ukraine Local Love grants supported these events to promote a sense of identity and to celebrate the unique culture vital for Ukrainian people today.
Check out some photos below. To see a complete list of events, please scroll down.
To support us in welcoming displaced Ukrainians as they settle into their communities, please Donate today. If you would like to volunteer, we have several opportunities at iVolunteer Powered by United Way British Columbia.
United for Ukraine Local Love Events
Christmas Celebrations with Ukrainians – Richmond
This celebration was to help a group of 70-80 Ukrainians temporarily living in the hotels in Richmond to have a common space to celebrate Christmas with food and performances. The event was an important connection for these families and individuals as they celebrated Christmas far from home.
Easter Pysanky Workshop Event – Prince Rupert
With 29 attendees, including children and non-Ukrainians, this workshop allowed participants to learn about and paint traditional pysanky.
Food made with Love: Ukrainian-Canadian Cuisine Cooking Show – Kamloops, BC
Dr. Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov designed the course on Ukrainian-Canadian cuisine as part of the Ukrainian Diaspora Studies and shared knowledge to educate community on the meaning of Ukrainian-Canadian Cuisine. Participants cooked a few Ukrainian dishes, such as Borshcht, Varenyky, a few salads, and uzvar – all under supervision of Ukrainian local chefs.
Ukrainian Christmas celebration – Victoria
To host and welcome the newcomers and existing Ukrainian community members, this celebration included Ukrainian Christmas traditions, Ukrainian folk songs (performed by the Ukrainian choir Kalyna) and a mini-workshop on Ukrainian traditional group dance.
Ukrainian Christmas – Cranbrook
An event to showcase how Ukrainians celebrate Christmas for Canadians by sharing traditional celebration, songs and cooking Kutya (Кутя).
Ukrainian Family Support – Langley
To help Ukrainian families learn about the various community support groups and resources, this support gathering brought them together with the community.
United for Ukraine in Canada – Dawson Creek
Unification and popularization of Ukrainian culture in Canada on the day of Ukrainian unity with a presentation of Ukrainian culture, songs, dance, stand. The event also included displays from different cities of Ukraine, eastern Ukraine,and true stories form people running the war.