Ukrainian culture, pride return to Dauphin festival – Winnipeg Free Press

DAUPHIN — High-flying dancers, perogies and embroidered blouses were proudly on display at the first day of the 57th annual Ukrainian National Festival in Dauphin.

But behind the cultural exhibitions there was a hint of worry as war rages on between Ukraine and Russia.

The grounds of Selo Ukrainia-Ukrainian Folk Arts Center and Museum are the hot spot for all things Ukraine this weekend, with people traveling from across the country to take in the festivities. Events are spread throughout the grounds and include all things highlighting Ukrainian and Slavic culture, including food, music, dancing, ballet and crafts.

TIM SMITH / THE BRANDON SUN

Events are spread throughout the grounds and include all things highlighting Ukrainian and Slavic culture, including food, music, dancing, ballet and crafts.

Friday’s events at the Festival Square Stage were all about youth, with amateur dance troupes from across Canada showing off their moves, as well as crafts that featured headdress making and pysanka painting.

Many of the audience members were parents and friends of the dancers.

This is a time for people to come together to honor and celebrate Ukrainian culture, said Julie Hnatiuk, whose daughter Mckayla, 11, was dancing with her troupe.

TIM SMITH / THE BRANDON SUN

The grounds of Selo Ukrainia-Ukrainian Folk Arts Center and Museum are the hot spot for all things Ukraine this weekend, with people traveling from across the country to take in the festivities.

She said she’s a “wannabe” Ukrainian, as her husband, Jason, is of Ukrainian descent, and it’s touching to see so many people come out to honor the culture and history.

“It’s sad that the war is going on, but we have to be proud and celebrate what we have,” she said. “I heard from some people that they were not taking part in the celebrations because of the war. You could take it as a negative, or you could take it as a positive. We are taking it as a positive and celebrating our culture.”

The positive sentiment was shared by fellow dance parent and Saskatoon resident Brian Gabrush, who said Canada and Ukraine have a long history and that shouldn’t be quelled by the conflict.

He said Canadians should be proud of the support — financial, material and military — their country has given to help Ukraine fight back.

“We shouldn’t have to give up our culture because of what is happening over there, and Russia is trying to squash it,” he said. “Between the food, dancing and all the friends coming together to show their support, it’s a great festival. We don’t want this culture to die.”

Dauphin Mayor Christian Laughland said he expected to see larger crowds this year because people are eager to get out to live events again, and show their support for Ukraine.

This year’s festival is doubly important, he said, as it is the first live one since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And owing to the Ukraine war, which has displaced millions of people, Dauphin and neighboring communities have become a new home for many immigrants fleeing the conflict.

“It’s great to have this back, just like we had Countryfest back a couple weeks ago,” he said. “However, this conflict is something the whole city has been keeping an eye on, considering our history with Ukraine and connections we have. This will be a really special festival for us.”

He added that the community has been generous with donations, but much more has come from outside Dauphin. City officials were talking to the Parkland Ukrainian Fund about donations from places like Flin Flon, The Pas and southern parts of the province as well, receiving as much as $5,000 in a single donation.

Ukrainians who fled the war were to be honored guests at the grounds today, the Canadian National Ukrainian Fund said.

Parkland Ukrainian Family Fund has settled 13 families in the area, said Larry Hrytsay, public relations officer for the fund. Many of those families are single mothers and their families, he said, and the public has been fantastic in supporting the fund and helping the families settle.

“People were coming here and they had fully furnished apartments and jobs lined up, and they were almost embarrassed because they said they didn’t deserve this kind of generosity,” he said.

The fund will continue to refugees as long as needed, Hrytsay said, and the organization is resigned to the possibility that the war will drag on for years.

The festival runs until Sunday.

— Brandon Sun

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.