Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Radio Canada International cuts Ukrainian program

This just in from Montreal ....

The Ukrainian Section at Radio Canada International (RCI) has been cut.

The surprise announcement was made this afternoon to the two-member personnel of the section.

The half-hour program aired Saturdays and Sundays since it was cut in half in November 2004, after over 50 years of broadcasting on a daily basis.

Even though the press in Ukraine appears relatively free, the same cannot be said of its big neighbor next door. (The International Press Institute (IPI) has included the Russian Federation on its Watch List.)

Ukrainian territorial integrity has been threatened by the Russian leadership in the recent past.

One should question the wisdom in pulling the plug on a service that gives a bird's eye view of a thriving democracy.

Canada offers a beacon of hope to the millions of Ukrainians who have wrestled with the Russian and Soviet Empires and have declared its independence on five separate occasions during the 20th century.

Thankfully under the Conservative Mulroney government, Canada became the first western nation to recognize Ukraine's independence in 1991.

The present Conservative minority government has made inroads in the Canadian ethnic newspapers, radio and television, knowing that it represents 35% of Canadian media.

Their message is sent to an often overlooked voter-ship - hence they are looking for more votes, especially in the next election, hoping to secure a majority government.

If Canadians (especially of Ukrainian descent) do not wish that this important service to our ancestral homeland, UKRAINE cease, then a public outcry is in order.

After 57 years, the final Ukrainian-language broadcast at RCI is slated for this Saturday-Sunday, March 28-29, 2009.

Feel free to listen to the archived programs here.

(Submitted by Simon Kouklewsky, Ukrainian Time Radio)

How embarassing for progressive-minded Canadians. Our country's public broadcaster cuts corners by axing a couple of hard-working professionals dedicated to serving a struggling, emerging democracy.

However, this doesn't come as a great surprise. And no doubt this budget cut was very welcome for those who have been struggling to kill the program for years.

If you are not in favour of this backward, irresponsible, and short-sighted move, send the President of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr H Lacroix, an email.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Alberta folklore centre spreads the joy of pysanka

Easter is coming soon, and it's time to get busy and make pysanky!

In Edmonton, The Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore and International House at the University of Alberta sponsored their second workshop for students from around the world on Wednesday, March 18.

The workshop was arranged by Ukrainian Folklore Program graduate student and International House resident Huseyin Oylupinar.

Students from China, Iran, Turkey, India, Poland, Ukraine, Brazil and other countries enjoyed refreshments while watching Slavko Novytsky’s classic pysanka film.

After the film, Dr. Natalie Kononenko, Kule Chair of Ukrainian Ethnography, talked about the tradition of pysanky and some of the technical aspects of pysanka writing.

The students then began work on their own eggs under the direction of Kononenko, Dr. Peter Holloway, and a group of volunteer assistants including Yanina Vihovska, Svitlana Kukharenko, Genia Boivin, and Greg Holloway.

Beautiful eggs and happy students were the result!

Most of the decorated eggs had traditional pysanka designs. Some students, however, chose innovative adaptations, adjusting their pysanky to incorporate designs and symbols from their home countries.

For more information on the Kule Centre and its program offerings, visit their website.

Nash Holos recipe: Easter beets & horseradish

This delicious dish is traditionally served at Easter time with ham and kubasa and, in very well-to-do homes, roast suckling pig.

Judy and I both come from pioneer prairie stock, and our families always just called this relish грін (pronounced "hreen" or "horseradish"). Etymologically, it should be called буряки з хроном (buryaky z xromom) which translates as … you guessed it … beets and horseradish. (In some regions of Ukraine they call it цвікли (tsveeklу).

The amount of sugar and horseradish in this recipe may be varied to suit your taste, as may the vinegar.

Note: If you are brave enough to try and use your own freshly-grated horseradish, wear rubber gloves and make sure the room is well-ventilated! Horseradish is very strong and pungent, because of the volatile mustard oils that are released when it’s grated (yes, even in a food processor). You may want to grate the horseradish at the last minute, after you have all of the other ingredients ready, to minimize the amount of time the vapours are in the air.

To make about 8 cups of this yummy relish, you’ll need :
  • 10 to 12 medium-sized beets. Cut off the stems 1 inch above the beets and leave the roots intact. Wash the beets thoroughly and cook in boiling water until they are tender.
  • In another pot, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups white vinegar, and a cup of sugar (or more, if preferred... to bring out the flavour of the beets).
  • Tie up a tablespoon of pickling spices in some cheesecloth and add to the vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil, and turn to simmer until ready to use.
  • When the beets are tender, drain and cover with cold water. Slip off the peel and cut off the stems and roots. Grate the beets on a coarse grater.
  • Mix beets with one to two cups of freshly grated or storebought horseradish. (They usually come in glass jars of 125 ml ...which is half a cup.)
  • Remove the bag of spices and add the vinegar mixture to the beet mixture.
  • Mix thoroughly and pack into sterilized Mason jars. Seal and store in a cool place. Allow the relish to stand for 24 hours before using.

If you’re fasting for Lent, you don’t need to worry about doing a taste test. If it makes you cry while you’re making it, you will know you have an excellent batch of хрін!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Xenophobia still alive in Canada?

It seems that for as far as we've come as a modern society, some Canadian attitudes are still really backward... like about a century behind the times.

Take this recent article about immigration and language.

Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz praises multiculturalism minister Jason Kenny for wading into the "politically correct minefield" of multiculturalism and being determined to weed out any government-funded programs that promote cultural diversity.

…[T]he government has sensibly ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes. Why should the federal government pay for children to learn the language of the country their parents and grandparents come from? …

"I think it's really neat that a fifth-generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian-- but pay for it yourself," Kenney says. Kenney's right--it is neat. If you can speak your family's mother tongue, your life is just that much more enriched. But such immersion in heritage shouldn't come at the expense of you identifying yourself as a Canadian first --and it certainly shouldn't come at Canadian taxpayers' expense.


Now let me see if I read this right.

Cross-cultural education is "neat and enriching" for the kids of immigrants who are fortunate enough to grow up immersed in the heritage language and culture of whence they came. But an intimate knowledge of one's heritage culture can actually be harmful to Canadian self-identity. So it behooves our government to ensure that kids born in Canada are denied such enrichment.

Then the government turns around and digs deep into the pockets of these unenriched Canadians to provide programs that give culturally enriched newcomers a leg up?

It sure looks like native-born Canadians are getting the short end of the stick here.

Why shouldn't we get the benefit of learning non-official languages in our schools, so that we are on an equal cultural footing with newcomers to our country, many of whom speak more than two languages?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t welcome newcomers and help them adjust to life in Canada. (I’m of Ukrainian descent, and Ukrainians are known as some of the most hospitable and helpful people in the world. I recall reading in an old magazine (circa 1919) I found in the local Ivan Franko library about some Canadian travelers who were lost in the wilds of Saskatchewan and were amazed at the willingness of a Ukrainian settler to take time away from tending her desperately ill child to help them get their bearings.) Helping newcomers integrate is the right thing to do. Obviously.

I'm not saying I disagree with Ms. Lakritz that ... "Part of the integration process means you leave your old hatreds and animosities at home and adopt enlightened Canadian attitudes of respect for other people's race, religion and basic human rights."

Nor am I saying that newcomers shouldn’t be required to learn our official language(s). When my grandparents and great-grandparents came to Canada they learned English, paid for it themselves, and didn’t complain about it.

Unfortunately for me my parents (like so many immigrants’ kids) didn’t pass on the Ukrainian language and culture to their children. After Canada’s hysterical xenophobia during the WWI internment operations, most Ukrainian immigrants and their kids took it to heart when they were told to “Speak English, or else go back where you came from” (which was all too often). They didn't want anyone saying that to their kids, so English was all we ever spoke.

For awhile there, tho, it looked like as a society we finally were starting to make some progress. In 1971 the Multiculturalism Act was introduced, and progressive-minded people succeeded in getting heritage language programs into the public schools so that future generations would be more culturally literate than mine. (Altho if some of today's short-sighted national leaders and media elites have their way, they won’t be for much longer.)

No. What I am saying is that it's detrimental to all Canadians that our collective attitudes still aren't enlightened enough to grasp the benefits of knowing more than one language. Given the medical studies cited in this CTV article and on American TV news, just imagine the cost-savings to our health-care system! (Never mind the cultural enrichment.)

It would benefit all Canadians, native-born and newly-arrived alike, if heritage language programs got more respect than lip service from government, media, and in fact many mainstream Canadians.

Actually, if heritage language programs got anywhere near as much respect as they do lip service, it would be a vast improvement for all Canadians … including those who have to be dragged kicking and screaming into truly enlightened times.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nash Holos recipe - Lazy Holubtsi (Cabbage Rolls)

For those who love the taste of holubtsi, but don't have the time (or patience) to make the "real thing" ...  here's the recipe Judy shared with Nash Holos listeners last Sunday on Ukrainian Food Flair. 
  1. Shred a small head of cabbage. Make sure to discard the core.
  2. Chop up a medium onion and sauté with the cabbage in about 2 tablespoons of oil, until limp. 
  3. Brown a pound of ground beef or pork and add it to two cups of cooked rice. Mix with the cabbage and onion mixture, with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and garlic to taste (either crushed fresh garlic or garlic powder).
  4. Put the mixture into a casserole dish or small roaster. 
  5. Add one can of tomato soup and mix well. 
  6. Bake at 350ºF for about an hour, till heated through.
Smachnoho!

Ukrainian and Irish soul cousins

Ten years ago on St. Patrick's Day, one of my favourite writers, Orysia Tracz, wrote an article called My Irish soul-cousins ...

As I watched and listened to the "Irish Tenors" singing during the Prairie Public Television membership drive this week, with each song I felt a closer kinship to them and the Irish. A long time ago I heard someone say that the Ukrainians are the Irish of the East, and the Irish are the Ukrainians of the West. Much in our histories is common: a fierce love of land, independent spirit, invasion and subjugation, intense struggles for freedom over the centuries, genocides by famine, emigration, exile, foreigners settling the land, invaders' attempts to systematically destroy the language, history and culture, loss of ethnic lands, and ultimate independence. Both our people have that ancient folk heritage, and we all sing, dance, cry, fight and love. ...

In their performances the tenors sing about and live the lives and history of the Irish. Even via the television screen I could feel the intense connection between the singers and their lyrics and the Dublin audience...

Our "striletski" (Ukrainian Sich Riflemen of World War I) and "povstanski" (Ukrainian Insurgent Army of World War II) songs express the same thoughts. ... Our songs about leaving home for a better place across the sea are just as melancholy. ...


This touching story is timeless. So enjoy! Full article here.

A story (and a TV show) about perogies in Winnipeg

Once upon a time, a long time ago in a city called Winnipeg, I recall my dad telling me a story about making perogies (we called them “pyrohy” in the old days) and growing up on the farm in Saskatchewan.

He recalled his mom making them (often) ... but whenever an unexpected visitor would come to the farm, everyone would all scramble to stuff the evidence into a closet, out of sight.

Why, I asked?

Because, he replied, no one wanted to be caught dead making pryohy … it was peasant food!

This struck me as very odd. Everyone made them, and everyone knew everyone else made them, and everyone loved them. The fact that they were inexpensive to make had to be a bonus!

Well, no, he said. They were ashamed to be so poor that all they could afford to eat was pyrohy. And it would be a disgrace, if not an insult, to serve them to guests.

I know Ukrainians can be funny sometimes (and I don’t mean necessarily ha-ha funny) … so I took may dad’s word for it. I knew very well how my dad always felt it was necessary to produce lavish “lunches” for guests (unexpected or not) as a way to demonstrate the family's prosperity… as well as to be hospitable and throw a great party. (My dad is *very* social!)

Still, something about his perogies-in-the-closet story stuck with me, but I thought it was just my dad’s family being weird. After all, I knew my family.

Or so I thought.

One day, some time later, I mentioned Dad’s story to my mom, and how odd I thought it was. Then she told me, very matter of factly, that her family did exactly the same thing!

Who knew?? All those years growing up with both of these people, and no one said.

Well, we’ve come a long way. But I wonder what all my grandparents and long-departed relatives (and who knows who else's grandparents and relatives) would think if they were to see not only unexpected visitors, but TV cameras coming to film them making pyrohy? (Not to mention making a living selling “peasant food”…)

Something tells me that, after getting over the shock, they would be rather pleased ... and would quite enjoy seeing something like this on TV.

Vancouver audio archives updated to March 15, 2009

The Nash Holos audio archives are updated to March 15, 2009, including Chetverta Khvylia.

A couple of exciting developments in Ukie Radioland out here in Lotusland! 
  • Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) has expanded to one full hour, starting at 1 p.m. Sundays on CJSF 90.1 FM. Pavlo has temporarily handed over the mic to Yuriy Lubkovych and Andriy Zinchuk, exchange students from Ukraine with broadcast experience who are currently studying at BCIT. 
  • Ukrainian Food Flair is back ... with host Judy Hrenenko of Prairie Cottage Perogies. Judy has been making perogies and other yummy Ukrainian favourites for 30+ years so she knows whereof she speaks! For her radio debut on last Sunday's program, she recalls making holubtsi in the homeland, and shares an easy recipe for making lazy holubtsi at home. Next week: Easter beets and horseradish. 
Also on Nash Holos last Sunday:
  • Fr. Ihor Kutash tells the fascinating story of 13th century monk St. Gregory Palamas
  • An interview with Riffmaster conducted by Vasyl Pawlowsky who caught up with him at the video debut of Riffmaster's latest Ukrainian release, Lyst do dushi (Letter to the Soul). 
  • Proverb of the Week, upcoming community events listings, and great Ukrainian music!
Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Riffmaster debuts new release

Last Friday, Feb. 27, Ukrainian rock musician Riffmaster (Andrij Antonenko) debuted a video of his latest release called Lyst do Dushi (Letter to the Soul).

The debut took place at Kyiv's Art Club 44-B. My good friend Vasyl, of the uaMuzik blog was kind enough to interview him at the debut for me. The interview will air later this month, so stay tuned!

(There's a photo of Riffmaster and Vasyl in an earlier blog post (here) taken at the Kupidon bar when I was in Kyiv last fall.)

The song itself aired on the Feb. 22 broadcast of Nash Holos so if you haven't heard it yet, download the program and give it a listen! (It's just past the halfway mark.)

More information about Riffmaster and his music at his website (here).

Vancouver audio archives updated to March 01, 2009

Audio archives for Nash Holos are updated to March 1, 2009. This includes Chetverta Khvylia (4th Wave) ... which, Pavlo tells me, has expanded to an hour and features some new voices behind the mic. As soon as I catch up with him I'll get the details and share them with you. Stay tuned! 

On this week's Nash Holos broadcast, Fr. Ihor discusses Cheese Fare Sunday (Julian calendar), and as well there's a proverb, community announcements and other items of interest, and plenty of Great Ukrainian music! 

Enjoy!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Advertisers still don't "get" multiculturalism

According to this article, "multiculturalism" has become the latest, hottest trend in the advertising industry. 

Whites and blacks are shown returning from war, surfing, skateboarding, dancing and waving American flags at political rallies, while a boyish Dylan and a present-day will.i.am take turns singing the Dylan classic, "Forever Young," each in his signature style. ...

Ads like these are part of a subtle, yet increasingly visible strategy that marketers refer to as "visual diversity" — commercials that enable advertisers to connect with wider audiences while conveying a message that corporate America is not just "in touch," racially speaking, but inclusive.

It wasn't always like this. For much of the past century, "minorities were either invisible in mainstream media, or handed negative roles that generally had them in a subservient position," says Jerome Williams, a professor of advertising and African-American studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Today, you're starting to see a juxtaposition of blacks and whites together, doing the things people do ... 

From my Canadian vantage point, it looks like someone in the advertising industry south of the border has finally realized that "multiculturalism" is more lucrative than the "melting pot." But if you look closely, you will notice that what is labelled "multicultural" is in essence "multi-racial."

These "multiculti" ads may be evidence of the vitality of assimilation, America's distinctive, master trend. To advertisers, though, they're simply smart business — a recognition of a new cultural mainstream that prizes diversity, a recognition that we are fast approaching a day when the predominant hue in America will no longer be white.

"Going forward, all advertising is going to be multicultural by definition, because in most states, majority ethnic populations will no longer exist," says Danny Allen, managing director at SENSIS, an ad agency in Los Angeles that specializes in reaching multicultural audiences through digital and online media.

This tendency to define multiculturalism strictly in terms of race has been going on a long time, and it has bugged me just as long.  Obviously I do not have anything against multi-racialism. But when is our society going to become sophisticated, confident, and caring enough to start correctly identifying a spade as a spade and a shovel as a shovel? There is a lot more to multiculturalism than skin colour.

Such ads often depict, [says Karl Carter, chief executive of the marketing agency GTM Inc. (Guerrilla Tactics Media)] "a bunch of different races playing along, side by side, Kumbaya."

The ads may play well now, but Carter wonders how long they will be effective — particularly as America "beiges" and race becomes less essential to how individuals self-identify. Over the long run, advertisers would do better, he says, to focus on a cultural approach with versatile images and campaigns easily adapted to highly individualized tastes. Put another way: How do hip-hoppers feel? What are the common desires of surfers, or skateboarders, or kayakers?

Add to that list, people who are interested in their ethnic heritage culture(s)... While it’s encouraging that some marketers are finally starting to think in these terms, I'm frankly quite amazed that it is taking so long for the majority to catch on.

As well, there still are precious few companies interested in catering to people interested in their ethnic heritage cultures. There are a few that do it on a superficial level, such as companies that sell language instruction courses. But they seem to be in a time warp. Rosetta Stone doesn’t even offer Ukrainian. Pimsleur does but the course is so outdated and laden with soviet propaganda it is laughable and hard to take seriously. BeforeYouKnowIt offers just a basic course and based on my email discussion with a company representative, isn’t interested in offering anything more.

Apparently these companies don’t consider the 2+ million North Americans of Ukrainian descent, the majority of whom have lost the language, a lucrative enough market.

Perhaps with the current economic downturn they may change their attitude.

Shreffler, the ad industry newsletter editor, says marketers aren't sociologists and in the end green — not black or white or brown — is often the most important color.