Paskievich’s war doc premieres at WAG


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It’s taken a year, but John Paskievich’s documentary A Canadian War Story will finally get its live première.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/11/2021 (455 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s taken a year, but John Paskievich’s documentary A Canadian War Story will finally get its live première.

The 2020 film, which focuses on the efforts and sacrifices of Ukrainian Canadians during the Second World War and the years shortly afterward, will be shown for the first time in front of a live audience at the Muriel Richardson Auditorium at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 and include a question-and-answer session with Paskievich and the film’s producers, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre.

Masks and proof of full vaccination for COVID-19 will be required to attend. It was, after all, the COVID-19 pandemic that prevented the screening to take place at the WAG when A Canadian War Story was released in 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Restrictions against indoor public gatherings washed out plans for a screening at the WAG, and instead, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, which funded the film, screened the film online though its website.

“As we all know, we’ve been hiding under the sheets from COVID the last couple of years,” Paskievich says. “I’m happy it’s being shown live on Remembrance week because remembrance works better in person than electronically. The human aspect of remembrance is so important.”

Friday’s live première may be a year late for the 75th anniversary, but it doesn’t lessen the importance of the film’s story, which begins when immigrants from Eastern Europe began settling in Western Canada at the turn of the 20th century.

Ukrainian Canadians were looked down upon early in the 1900s — a similar experience many new Canadians face in the 2000s — and many were forced into internment camps during the First World War because Ukraine was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of Canada’s enemies during the conflict.

Poet Michael Gowda is quoted early in the film, saying Ukrainian Canadians would have to fight and die in battle for Canada to gain acceptance.

The 60-minute film follows many Ukrainian Canadians, including Manitobans as they joined the army, navy and air force and fought for Canada during the war, heeding Gowda’s call.

After the war, many of those soldiers and nurses returned to Europe to work in displaced persons camps, many of whom were Ukrainians fleeing the Soviet Union.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS John Paskievich, filmmaker and photographer, has produced the film A Canadian War about Ukrainian lives before and during the war.

Paskievich, 73, was born in a displaced-persons camp in Linz, Austria, in 1948 and his family eventually found a home in Winnipeg, where he has led a career as an artist and documentary filmmaker.

Since its online release last November, A Canadian War Story received a digital screening at the East European Film Festival in Warsaw, where it received nominations for best feature documentary and for best scientific or educational film.

Twitter: AlanDSmall

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Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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