Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Out here in Lotusland, we don't normally get a lot of snow, so I'll make sure to get out and enjoy our "marshmallow world"!
According to a NASA report issued last Friday:
... Endeavour crew members, Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Don Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Greg Chamitoff, and the station crew, Commander Mike Fincke and flight engineers Yury Lonchakov and Sandra Magnus, were awakened at 8:05 a.m. CST.
The music was for Piper. The song was in the Ukrainian language, which she learned as a child. It was "Unharness Your Horses, Boys," ... performed by The Ukrainians.
The full NASA STS-126 Report #14 report can be read here.
The Canadian government is honouring the memory of the "father of multiculturalism" with the annual Senator Paul Yuzyk Award for Multiculturalism, which will be presented each year to an individual or an organization that has demonstrated excellence in promoting the multiculturalism for which Senator Yuzyk stood.
The announcement was made by Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism at the Canadian Club in Winnipeg on Nov. 13, 2008.
Yuzyk was undoubtedly inspired by the prescient words of Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir (John Buchan), who in 1936 told a Manitoba audience from the Ukranian community that “You will all be better Canadians for being also good Ukrainians.”
Paul Yuzyk paid tribute to the French and British founding, and the Aboriginal peoples who were here before. But he added, in his maiden speech in the Senate in 1964, that “with the setting up of other ethnic groups, which now make up almost a third of the population, Canada has become multicultural in fact.”
He became known as the “father of multiculturalism.”
Today, to perpetuate his memory, and to strengthen the vision of “unity in diversity” to which he was so devoted, I am pleased to announce that the government is creating the annual Paul Yuzyk Award, which will be presented each year to an individual or organization that has demonstrated excellence in promoting the multiculturalism for which he stood..
The full transcript of Kenney's speech can be found here.)
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress sent out a press release today welcoming the award.
"Senator Yuzyk is widely regarded as the chief architect of Canada's multiculturalism policy and it is fitting that this award be established in his memory," said Paul Grod, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
Senator Yuzyk was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, becoming the first Ukrainian Canadian to achieve this honour. He served in Canada's Upper Chamber for 23 years, until his death in 1986. Senator Yuzyk was born in 1913 in Pinto, Saskatchewan. His encounters with discrimination as a young teacher in search of a teaching position, which he was denied because he was a 'foreigner,' forged his determination to seek recognition for non-British, non-French-Canadian citizens. In his maiden speech in the Senate, entitled "Canada: A Multicultural Nation" he voiced the concerns of many ethnic groups that Canadians must accept the fact that Canada is not a country of two solitudes. Multiculturalism was the subject of rancorous debate until 1971, when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced an official policy of multiculturalism.
"Our community eagerly awaits the announcement of further details and looks forward to honouring the first recipient of this award," said Grod. "We commend Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, for recognizing the contribution of Senator Yuzyk to Canada."
One of the things that struck me in Kenney's speech is the emphasis on how well Ukrainians have integrated into mainstream Canadian society. While I appreciate the kind words, as someone who can be considered a "born-again Ukrainian," I see this high praise as somewhat of a "positive spin" on past societal pressures to assimilate. Especially since there was no mention made of them, or the personal consequences suffered by many Ukrainian Canadians... particularly those by Sen. Yuzyk.
But aside from that, I had a bit of a deja vu feeling. Back in about 1991, I recall his Conservative predecessor, Gerry Weiner, saying his government was getting away from funding support for "3D multiculturalism" ... the 3 D's standing for "diet, dress and dance." Kenney just used a different alliteration and a warmer, fuzzier delivery for what seems to be essentially the same message and overall philosophy. (Which, I might add, the Liberals were all too happy to adopt as their own.)
Some have said that the multiculturalism of the 1970’s was about food and folklore.
Now, as you can tell, I’ve had my share of great ethnic cuisine. And we all get a kick out of celebrations like Winnipeg’s famous Folkorama. (Prime Minister Harper certainly enjoyed his visit to the Filipino pavilion this year).
But today Canada’s cultural communities are strong enough to stand on their own, and showcase what’s best about their cultures, without depending on government handouts.
And today many of those communities are so robust that there may be a temptation amongst some new Canadians to stay within their familiar social and cultural networks, rather than venturing out into our broader society. Staying within what academics call “ethnic enclaves.”
But that would impoverish us all. It would be like a Folkorama where everyone just stays put in their own pavilions, all the time. And that wouldn’t be much fun.
But having criss-crossed this great country; having attended hundreds of events and talked to thousands of new Canadians, I am certain of this: we all want a multiculturalism that builds bridges, not walls, between communities.
We want a Canada where we can celebrate our different cultural traditions, but not at the expense of sharing common Canadian traditions.
Well, if "Canada’s cultural communities are strong enough to stand on their own" these days ... particularly the Ukrainian community, it's certainly not due to a lot of "government handouts" in the past for "food and folklore" type of celebrations.
It would be nice if that little fact were acknowledged ... and perhaps that stronger government support of Canada's cultural communities (including ethnic ones) might help along that integration process today that he is calling for. A warmer, fuzzier approach to encouraging assimilation, perhaps. And that, I think, would be a good thing.
But lest I be accused of "looking a gift horse in the mouth" I tip my hat to minister Kenney and prime minister Harper for the commendable gesture of creating this award. To their credit, this government has so far been much kinder to Canada's Ukrainian commmunity than previous ones have been.
On Nash Holos, a crop of new Ukrainian music this fall. So we've had several CD of the Week features in the past few weeks.
First, on Oct 12, was Anytchka, of Lviv, with her latest release Дзвони Лемківщина (Bells of Lemkivshchyna). This is a lovely collection of Lemko folksongs in Anytchka's inimitable, sunny-sounding style.
Next, on Oct. 19, we featured Zubrivka of Toronto, with their brand-new debut release, Знову Вдома (Home Again). This collection of traditional folksongs is a very skillful blend of old and new musical styles that comes together to create a contemporary sound that retains a distinct ring of authentic folk tradition. Delightful!
Last Sunday, Oct. 26, we featured The Female Beat of Winnipeg, and their CD ... and the beat goes on. This is a group of very talented and charming women who are (as far as I know) the only all-girl polka band around. And yes, I mean a rip-roaring, foot-stomping good old polka band. And they are good!This CD of the Week feature included an interview with the gals of The Female Beat when I was in Winnipeg on my way home from Ukraine last month. This photo was taken at the home of Joan Lasko, shortly after we chatted and enjoyed a wonderful dinner. L-R: Gail Koroluk (violin), Joan Lasko (accordion), Pawlina, Joyce Horn (guitar), Valerie Feniuk (drums).The interview is on the Nash Holos website here, and program archives are here.
Here's the chapel that is being used while the cathedral is being built. Not very big but nonetheless impressive in its beauty.
We were told that the original chapel "mysteriously" burned down and had to be rebuilt. We were also told that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is not particularly popular in Kyiv, at least in religious circles. (No connection to that fire, I'm sure...)
Apparently this is Orthodox territory and there's a lot of infighting amongst them as it is (Kyivan Patriarchite, Moscow Patriarchate and Ukrainian Autocephalus Patriarchate all duking it out over the real estate) ... without adding yet another contender to the mix. So the Catholics as new kids on the block aren't finding any red carpets rolled out for them.
Well, all I can say about that situation is that it's a good thing the Lord Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven. Because otherwise He'd be getting downright dizzy spinning in His grave.
But, there's no denying the buildings are gorgeous, inside and out. Here's an interior shot of that chapel; we arrived just as Divine Liturgy was ending so we had a chance to go inside, enjoy the peacefulness and beauty, and take some photos.
This is St. Michael's Golden Domed Monastery. This 11th century treasure was destroyed by Stalin (along with much priceless, ancient artwork) and rebuilt after Independence in 1991. It is stunningly beautiful inside of course, and the sight of it from the street was quite striking.
Equally striking, I thought, was the sight of elderly ladies standing outside the entrance of this magnificent building, begging. While it is wonderful that these glorious churches that were destroyed by the soviets are being rebuilt, how can the irony be lost on those who (re)build them that money is so readily available for golden domes but not for poverty-striken women? One could ask, WWJD? And would He approve? I suppose elderly Ukrainian women are at least fortunate that they're not on the radar of human traffickers. (Some great fortune, but no doubt any trafficked young woman trapped in a faraway brothel would gladly trade places.) As the song goes, when will we ever learn?
I don't recall the name of this palatial building which was nearby (I'm taking notes for sure next time I go!) but it was so majestic-looking that I had to get a shot of it.
Next to the church was a commemoration of the Holodomor. We were told that such ceremonies are ongoing in this 75th anniversary year of the soviet-engineered genocide by famine of Ukrainians in 1932-33.
Obviously there is something to that Ukrainian proverb: В руках поета-героя, дуже небезпечна зброя. (The hand of a poet can be a dangerous weapon.)Below is a snapshot of the actual monument itself. Our tour guide told us that originally there was a large cross marking the grave, but the soviets took it down and replaced it with this statue. It would seem the successors of the tsarist regime were similarly threatened... by a religious symbol.
This is the tour guide (
I think his name was Danylo Victor) who took us around the park and told us about the life and times of Taras Shevchenko. His English was impeccable and he had us all spellbound. I knew that Shevchenko was an accomplished painter, but I hadn't actually seen much other than poor reproductions of his self-portraits. Danylo Victor showed us some nice photographs of Shevchenko's paintings. He was truly brilliant.
Quite a lot of exquisite embroidery and paintings.
Outside the хата were some simple, but beautiful gardens. The kalyna was so striking that we all had to take close-up shots of it. (I was tempted to snitch a berry and taste it, but didn't dare...)
Isn't that a brilliantly beautiful fence for the flowers?
Our next stop was lunch in the restaurant at the hotel on the premises. But first, a detour. We had all heard about the possibility of encountering toilets that weren't exactly what we're used to, and that were essentially just holes in the floor. We came prepared with our own paper and little bottles of hand sanitizer, but weren't quite sure what to expect.
So we lined up, and when it was my sister Marilyn's turn, she handed me her purse and coat, rolled up her sleeves, took a deep breath, then said: "OK, I'm ready" ... and with great resolve and determination, marched into the cubicle. This is what she saw:
Well, I figured I could do it, too. So, I followed in my sister's footsteps. Literally. But it would seem I may require a bit more practice to be able to consistently aim straight. (OK guys, you just go ahead and laugh. You couldn't possibly relate...)
Anyway, I must say I was just glad to have been wearing leather (i.e., washable) sandals and bare feet! Actually, there was lots of water and altho it smelled like an outhouse, the facility was actually reasonably clean.It was very nice to see several groups of schoolchildren visiting the monument with their teachers, and learning about this important figure in their history.
After our delicious lunch we boarded the bus and headed back, past fields of corn and sunflowers growing in rich chernozem ... the fabled black earth Ukraine is famous for. And, having spent many childhood years on a Saskatchewan farm with a very well-used stone boat, so much rich soil with not a single stone in sight was quite amazing to see.
And speaking of sights, more to come...
With this experience, I was starting to understand why Ukraine is having a hard time getting into the EU. If that lingering soviet mindset isn't holding the country back in its development, it sure isn't helping move it forward.
Maybe with an influx of low-cost airlines, air travel will become more common and eventually help to straighten out bozos who think safety rules are for other people. (Ditto for staying awake on the job...)
I had heard enough about "proper attire" from friends including Orysia and Myrna. My nieces, however, were under the impression it was ok to wear slacks, as was their Baba. After we took a family group picture, some Russian Orthodox nuns walked by and gave us a dirty look. Shortly afterward my jeans-clad niece said one of them beat her with a cane! Seriously. She thought it was just a jostle at first, but after 3 hard whacks on the leg she figured it was deliberate. So I was very glad I wore a skirt and a scarf!
When we got back from the tour, we wondered what to do for lunch. I called Vasyl and he suggested meeting at a favourite restaurant of his, called Antresol. My sisters and nieces came along and we all ordered the duchess salad, which Vasyl recommended (and which was quite delicious.) To drink, we all (except for one wise niece) ordered what we thought would be some nice fresh-squeezed lemonade ... you know, the kind you get at fairs and exhibitions here at home?
Well, silly us. We forgot we were far from home.
What we got was fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Pure, plain, pucker-powering lemon juice. It was drinkable once the waitress brought us a pile of sugar cubes and some water. (What she must have thought of us crazy Canuck women is anyone's guess.) In our defence, none of us could speak a word of Russian beyond "dosvidannya" (not a very helpful word in that situation). Likewise, the poor waitress spoke neither English nor Ukrainian. Nor could anyone else ... until Vasyl got there. All in all, quite the experience and a lesson remembered for the rest of our trip!
Looking a tad jet-lagged there and having quite the bad hair day. But, as you can see, happy to be there and finally meeting Vasyl in person. (And none the worse for the lemon juice.)
After lunch Vasyl showed us some sights along Khreshchatyk, including the Maidan ... a.k.a. Independence Square (where the famous Orange Revolution took place) and what he said locals call "the chick on a stick"...
Afterwards, he very gallantly took us shopping. All five of us. (Brave man!) I needed batteries and (obviously) a hair dryer, so he took us to Цум which he said locals consider a sort of bargain store.
Good grief. Army & Navy and Wal-Mart are bargain discount stores! This store reminded me more of the old Eaton's, only glitzier. It was amazing what we saw there, from cosmetics to appliances, jewellry and lighting fixtures to fine china and wine and spirits. The store was brightly lit, immaculate and just a joy to be in. It's hard to think of Цум as a descendant of the soviet-era Ґум, which I visited in 1984. (And which more closely resembled Army & Navy ...)
This was the one in Moscow in 1984, but I don't imagine the one in Kyiv would have looked much different. The modern-day Kyiv descendent Цум is a lot more fashionable ... as are the shoppers! (Orysia warned me before we left that these days most Canadian tourists tend to feel quite frumpy in comparison to the locals ... and, as usual, she was quite right.)
After I got my batteries and hairdryer, my sister and nieces wanted to shop for clothes and shoes so Vasyl, my other sister and I left them at the underground mall on Khreshchatyk.
Then we hit some bookstores ... my favourite! My sister teaches nursery school and wanted some new books for work, so Vasyl pointed her in the right direction. He also helped me find some excellent Ukrainian-language synonym-antonym dictionaries.
After that, we went to the famous Kupidon bar. There, we met Vasyl's friend Roman Romanovych before he went off to do his radio show (which is called Roman welcomes his guests and airs Thursdays at 6 pm local (Kyiv) time). Then, who should show up but Andriy Denisenko, a.k.a. Riffmaster, and his manager, Andriy Honcharuk.
(L-R: Andriy H, Vasyl, me, and Riffmaster.) What truly great guys. I wondered if a Ukrainian rock star and his manager would be interested in talking to some old broad who does this little radio program in Canada. But as you can see they were very charming and chivalrous! :-) Very down-to earth and not the least bit pretentious, just a delight to be with.
BTW, Vasyl tells me to expect more Ukrainian-language releases from Riffmaster, as he has discovered that doing music in his native language allows him a much richer musical expression... and his fans agree. Hopefully those new releases will find their way to me. In the meantime, there's a Riffmaster tune on this Sunday's playlist which Vasyl sent me earlier. It's called Misiats.
The next day was a tour to Kaniv, and then supper at a restaurant called Козацькa Втіхa (I think?), where Vasyl said we could get some good, authentic Ukie food. We also lucked out and got some live music to go with it.
These musicians were Oleksandr Litvinenko and Volodymyr Ovcharchyn, members of a 5-piece group called Cheremosh. They were fabulous musicians and entertainers, and showed us a most wonderful time. I was fortunate to have my handy-dandy recorder with me, as Vasyl had planned to meet us there and bring with him Dirk Lustig of Toy-Toy Accent Toys, so I could interview them. Unfortunately they didn't make it, but since I had the recorder with me, I couldn't resist putting it on the table and just letting it run! (I aired a portion of it on Nash Holos on October 5.)
The only downside to that fun evening is that it used up most of the memory card, and I had an interview with Dirk the next morning (which Vasyl rescheduled from the night before). BTW, Dirk is the guy who, along with Vasyl, is pretty much responsible for the drive to get Kyiv on the board of the world edition of Monopoly. He is a Swiss national with a peculiar, and very powerful, love for Ukraine. Another down-to-earth, unassuming guy with a huge heart.
We had about an hour together before I had to leave for the airport and the flight to Simferopol. Over a cup of espresso (the first time I ever enjoyed strong black coffee!) Dirk and Vasyl gave me a detailed overview of the political situation in Ukraine ... as well as a fair bit of sympathy when my recorder stopped in the middle of the interview and the floor refused to open up and swallow me whole. Hopefully I will eventually catch up with Dirk for a long-distance interview to get his take on the outcome of that Monopoly vote, and plans for World Edition.
There were a couple of whirlwind tours during our brief visit to Kyiv, including a trip to Kaniv, the burial place of Taras Shevchenko. As I started out saying, it was not nearly enough time in Kyiv. I would dearly love to return and spend much more time there, exploring the fascinating historical and modern sights, and mingling with the wonderful people who live in that amazing city.
More pix and recollections to come ...
Ukrainian Weddings, a multi media display, was developed by the staff at the Kule Folklore Centre at the University of Alberta for its initial launch at the 2007 Ukrainian Festival at Harbourfront in Toronto, Ontario.
The exhibit is a series of panels and videos that explore Ukrainian Wedding traditions through four different times and settings.
These settings include classic Ukrainian traditions from Ukrainian villages of the 1800s; a 1995 Bukovynian village wedding, wedding traditions from pre-1940 western Canada and post-1970 Ukrainian wedding traditions.
The Saskatoon exhibit also has antique Ukrainian wedding headpieces, examples of Korovaii – a traditional wedding bread – and an authentic wedding dress made by one of the donors of the Kule Folklore Centre – Mrs. Anna Kuryliw – in her Ukrainian village in 1936 and brought to Canada for her wedding to Wasyl Kuryliw. The decorated tree in the front of the picture below is a traditional Ukrainian Wedding Tree - a "derevtse."
Several members from the Kule Folklore Centre were on hand for the opening of the exhibit which featured refreshments and hors d oeuvres and a tsymbala player who greeted the 130 guests at the exhibit entrance.
Dr. Andriy Nahachewsky, Huculak Chair of Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography and Director of the Kule Folklore Centre and Nadya Foty, Archivist of the Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Archives who was instrumental in arranging the exhibit collaboration with the museum, spoke to the audience about the Kule Folklore Centre and its role as the leader of Ukrainian Folklore outside of Ukraine.
They noted that the Kule Folklore Centre is committed to the exploration and documentation of Ukrainian and Canadian culture through teaching, research, archiving, publishing, scholarships and active community engagement.(Folklore and ethnology are the study of arts, customs, beliefs, songs, crafts, and traditions, as well as the people who partake in them.)
The exhibit (which has since been shown at the Moncton Museum, New Brunswick; Vegreville Pysanka Festival; several Edmonton events; and Folkfest in Saskatoon) will be at Saskatoon’s Ukrainian museum until early November.
If you're fortunate enough to be in the vicinity of this fabulous exhibit, I hope you'll take the opportunity to see it. As for those of us out here in Lotusland, we're hopeful it will one day make its way to the west coast!