Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Raising awareness of 'the Ukrainian dimension'
IT'S a culture that stretches back almost 120 years and has given Winnipeg NHL hockey players, Leo Mol sculptures, folklore, and an abundance of comfort food.
The University of Manitoba Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies documents and teaches not only Ukrainian culture, but also how it's intertwined with Canada and Manitoba.
Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.
Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.
German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.
Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.
Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).
It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.
When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.
A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.
As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.
Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.
Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.
"The focus is to make people aware of the Ukrainian dimension of Manitoba and of Canada," said former head of the centre Denis Hlynka. "There's of course an interest in what's going on in Ukraine, but the real interest is what's going on here."
The centre started up in 1981, studying and creating awareness about Ukrainian-Canadian culture through classes, lectures, research, and involvement with other Ukrainian organizations.
Nowadays, the centre offers courses from Ukrainian Canadian folklore to the economy of Ukraine. "(Ukrainian culture) is so infused we don't even notice it. Common words such as perogy and kubasa everyone knows and one doesn't even think of this having a cultural context. These are now Canadian foods," Hlynka said.
Orest Martynowych is the scholar-in-residence at the centre, working on what he said is the first real history of Ukrainians in Winnipeg.
"It's a world that has basically disappeared, that highly concentrated community that existed until about the early '60s," said Martynowych. "Ukrainian life is a mere shadow of what it used to be. I wanted to write it so there's a record of what existed and so we remember the people who sustained this community."
Martynowych has been working on the illustrative history for two years, delving into Winnipeg-Ukrainians turned NHL hockey players, such as Nick Wasnie and Pete Langelle (an altered version of his Ukrainian name Landiak), the community's contribution to music internationally, and those who went off to fight in the First World War.
"I'm trying to get away from the type of history that's usually written, which is focused on institutions and churches in the Ukrainian Canadian community, and trying to focus on ordinary people," said Martynowych.
He's has also compiled a tour of historic Ukrainian places in Winnipeg for the centre, setting out the important sites some of which are still around, such as Saints Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian Catholic Church in the North End, and many institutions now long gone.
"A lot of things we take for granted in Manitoba stem from our Ukrainian background," said Hlynka. "We've been here a very long time."
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 J5
(1 of 23 articles for this week)