Sunday, 29 December 2013

Pillow Talk

“1,000 PILLOW PROJECT”

Alberta artist, Larisa Sembaliuk Cheladyn, is embarking on a new art project which she has titled “1000 Pillow Project.” Her aim is to gather 1,000 cushions/pillows (embroidered, woven or other handwork), or photographs thereof, and to create a painting and multi-media presentation of this massed collection. This project is part of her work towards her Master’s degree in Ukrainian Folklore at the University of Alberta, and would be part of her thesis presentation. She is kindly asking members of various organizations, who are willing, to help her amass such a collection, either by submitting to her the pillows/cushions themselves and/or photographs thereof. Many of these cushions/pillows have been in families for years, and many of them have a story to tell. Larisa would very much like to hear of these stories. She has a form which could be filled out, which would relate your pillow’s story. In a great many cases, the stories are long forgotten but Larisa would still like to see the pillow/cushion or photo thereof. She can be contacted directly at artbylarisa@shaw.ca.

Do You Hear Me Now?


“SLOOKH”

Based in Edmonton, the Canada-Ukraine Alliance for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons will continue to sponsor summer educational camps in Ukraine for deaf children and their parents in 2014.  Started in 2000, the camp has grown into a popular program that draws over fifty participants, including students, teachers, parents and specialists in Ukrainian Sign Language. The last camp was at the Odessa-Zatoka breach and included both recreational and learning sessions. Camp participants left with a deeper understanding of sign language and its importance in educating deaf children. Finances from the Canadian side are donated by individuals and various organizations in Alberta, such as the St. John’s Cathedral and Lac La Biche branches of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada. Additional donations would be appreciated.  This is a worthwhile charitable assistance provided by Canadians to Ukrainians.  More information can be obtained from the President of the Alliance, Roman Petryshyn (780 – 431 – 1473) petryshynr@macewan.ca) or from the Secretary, Elaine V. Harasymiw (780 – 437 – 6629) elainelvh@shaw.ca).

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Unity of Purpose

Diversity is Calgary's pride, the international origins of its citizenry make Calgary the third most diverse city in Canada. The ethnic diversity, visible and non visible minorities, linguistic plurality, political inclinations, and economic responses are simply the fabric of society, with effective channels through which to influence public policy through democratically elected officials. This is the stuff of dreams in many societies the world over.

Millennia of aboriginal histories, westward expansion, contemporary histories, the boom-town opportunities, and the cultural accumulations of all its citizenry all play a part in the drama of Calgary. Even the memory of the Calgary flood of 2013 will have a place in the folklore of this place! It's a young city, but the themes running through Calgary's historical narrative are rather practical ones - how to create a place for the achievement of one's dreams!

On the Maidan in Kyiv and elsewhere people take pride in medieval Kyivan Rus, the memory of early modern Cossack republics, the national poet Taras Shevchenko. They share grief about the millions of victims of the Stalinist famines of 1932-33, and a common indignation that their life's work continues to feed a usurper's purpose. The big story items are largely uncontentious! People are largely of one common thought! It's all about creating a place to achieve one's dreams! Strikingly uncharacteristic for international mass demonstrations, though the rallies have been estimated between 800 thousand to a million citizens, there is a peace, levity and humor at the Maidan, which can only be described as supernatural. In many ways, international observers may only now be recognizing the Maidan's organic purpose in treating the accumulated adrenal fatigue of a people long under chronic stress.  The protests have a moral character, healing touch, and this non-violent national uprising has already convinced Ukrainians of their power to change their situation.

But after a month or more of protests, though this tour de force of emotional and physical exhilaration has galvanized common purpose among Ukraine's diverse citizenry, there is more yet to accomplish!  Discipline, patience and timing is everything when considering the government politicians whose purposes are far more sultry. With the increase in physical threats, and use of violence to keep the protesters spinning, the government forces do a great dishonor to their citizenry.  At which point will the Ukrainian Maidan protests accumulate the weight of world opinion, political pressure, and citizen engagement in sufficient force to effectively tip the agenda for the Ukrainian state?  

Malanka Events 2014

As a Canadian of Ukrainian origin it strikes me so interestingly that though we celebrate the Canadian style, the Ukrainian things linger. Stuff like Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper - the ritual, the feast, the carolling, and of course the Ukrainian New Year's Event Malanka.

On Friday, January 10, 2013, St. Stephen's Church at 4903-45 Street S. W is hosting their Malanka - so contact Ed Tysowsky at 403-547-3226 or www.protomartyr.ca for more information.

Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Theatre will host their Malanka at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Centre at 5600 Centre Street North on Friday, January 17th, 2014.  Contact Jordan at 403-613-4685 or www.suzirya.com for more informaiton.

Lethbridge will celebrate Malanka on Saturday, January 18, 2013 at the Senior Citizen's Facility at 500-11 Street South, Lethbridge.  Contact the Troyanda Ensemble http://troyanda.ca for more information or call 403-320-2222.

Plast Ukrainian Scouts of Calgary will celebrate Malanka on Saturday, January 19, at the Calgary Petroleum Club at 319-5 Ave SW.  Get tickets online at plast.ca/calgary/malanka.

And Calgary's Yalenka Ukrainian School of Dance is hosting their Strathmore Malanka 2014 at the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Centre at 5600 Centre Street North on January 25, 2014.  More information from Lorraine at 403-934-2065  or contact alleskiw@telus.net.



Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Since the Very Grasses Sprouted Seeds

When Ukrainians gather for Christmas Eve supper, the first dish is served in ritual fashion.  It has been so for ever.  The ritual gift of belonging, of public acknowledgement, of acceptance and embrace - the gift of love - this is kutia.  The boiled wheat, honey and poppyseed dish speaks of ancient times of honour, of challenges met, of adventures and tragedies which trace the history of a people. Kutia says we have been here since the very grasses sprouted seeds, and we will be here for as long as the grasses sprout seeds.  Our lives may be sweet, they may be darkened as a consequence of our temporal lives, frail and human, but we will endure.

I love this entire Christmas cycle and know the extremely wide-flung diaspora of the Ukrainian nation endures simply because of the one important gift we share - we believe we will endure.  Many generations have made the grand exodus from Ukraine to lands where economic opportunity beacons, but just as many generations will one day seek their origins.  Whether the language, the culture, the values, the traditions endure depends entirely on family choices - but the remarkable genetic code that links us with our ancestors cannot break, come what may.

As you sit with your family over this holiday season, whether kutia or holubtsi or pyrogies are on your menu is irrelevant.  Do you care to know the illustrious journey of your ancestors?  Who are your heroes? And what will the future bring?


And the Light Will Shine

This wonderful season of goodwill is full of hope!  Traditional church chants of Christmas tell intriguing stories of schooled wise men of old who pursued the light, leaving the shameful ways of the past, and bridging the divide for others.  They simply followed the star. The light enticed them, they studied it, and discovered they didn't need sooth sayers, fraud, manipulation or coersion to pursue their glorious future.  The old strictures, hopeless rules and tyranny of the past was simply over.  They had seen the light.

Ukrainians who have taken to the streets in recent weeks say they want to see a better-governed, less corrupt and politically liberal country, more closely aligned with its western neighbours. The champions of this brilliant idea believe the consuming sooty darkness that has obstructed the light potentially shining through the window must simply be washed away. Persevering in its destiny with the future, the Ukrainian Maidan is now well into its second month of purposeful direction.  The Maidan is embracing everyone equally, converting the talents and services so generously shared into a sparkling opportunity for civic engagement. People's hearts are being softened, their stories are being shared, the sorrows and hurts are being heard.  It is a healing time.  People are energized, even when their lives, the lives of those with whom they have the most staunchly shared oneness of purpose, are threatened, or even worse - taken. The Ukrainian Maidan is challenging the ill-tempered representatives of the dark with light, truth and dignity. And though the dark may seem to win at times, the precious gift of Christmas is The Light!   

Someday, not in the too distant future, the light will shine through the Ukrainian nation and there will be change.  Change that will require constant vigilance, dogged determination, bravery and light.  The people who have joined together over the course of this mission driven engagement, this service of honour on the Maidan, will be proud to say they threw back the curtains and washed the windows.  Ukraine's future is bright, and her legacy will shine!    

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iaXe9OumpY4

Разом ми це переживемо


Monday, 16 December 2013

Another Malanka Story - Just for Fun


ukrfolk.ualberta.ca
In the ancient Ukrainian tradition, the Creator - whose name is PraBoh - the Eternal One, had four sons and one daughter.  The daughter, Lada - is Earth.  The first son fought with his father - the Eternal One, and with his brother and sisters  - he was the one who dwells in the deepest darkness. The second son was Yar-or Yarylo who in Christian times became St. George.  The third son was Rai - who in Christian times became St. John.  The youngest son, was Lad, also called Myr -which stood for peace.  The sun was of course All Seeing, the Svyatovydam, a knight and hero in a  golden cloak, armed with eight swords - one of which he holds in his hand.  Riding around the earth on white horses, Svyatovydam sees everything and  knows everything because he is observant.
wumag.kiev.ua

Lada - the daughter who is Earth, brought two children into the world. Her son was the Moon - Kniaz Meesyats, and her daughter was Spring-May, also called Mylanka because she was always loving and generous - myla. Mylanka spent her days covering the world with flowers and greenery, especially in the month of May. But the first son, the one who dwells in the deepest darkness wanted to harm her and everyone else.  He wanted to take Mylanka to the underground kingdom. He stole her finally when Kniaz Meesyats - the Moon was hunting.  For the time she was absent from the world, there was no spring.  When she was eventually freed by the King of the Moon himself, Spring rejoiced!.  Mylanka married the Moon King (in Christian times called Basil), and since that day, she heralds the coming of Spring.  She works to break the bonds of cold, deep dark times, and return greenery, flowers and life for everyone to enjoy.

So Malanka is her festival!  In ancient times the carnival followed the religious parts of the mid winter holiday season, in a yearly ritual marking the new year.  The Wisdom of the Ages is a tale similar to those told in Greek mythology.  Of course there are a plethora of Malanka activities which flesh out the story, make it into a whole family celebration full of costume party masquerade, dressing up to represent elements of nature, animals, figures in the skits and dramatic plays, some of which represent the decay of nature being transformed by the powers of good.  The evening is never complete without silly party games, slap-stick comedy, teasing and the like, always a good excuse for dressing up, skits and plays.  Pure fun and silliness, a great way to light up a dark, dreary winter night!

Of course that is only one of the different stories explaining the origins of Malanka!

Friday, 13 December 2013

In the Days Before Christmas on the Euromaidan

Since the night of November 21st, Kyiv residents and the citizens of Ukraine have gathered for protest demonstrations on the public spaces, called the Maidan.  People of character, the world over, through social media and live stream channels have witnessed, astounded at the mass scale of this continuing event.

At the very core of  Euromaidan is an idea, a declaration of independence, a declaration of values. Citizens of Ukraine are fed up with kleptocratic government leadership whose gargantuan appetites have impoverished the state treasury at huge risk to Ukraine's sovereignty.  After a 360 year experimental allegiance with its northern partner, Ukraine's Maidan participants are voicing their preference for a western, democratic value system, they will not be held in bondage to a system of government that closes its eyes to fraud and embezzlement at the highest levels, and allows excessively burdensome "deals" which strip the state of funds necessary for building a prosperous future for Ukraine's children. The decision to stand, in quiet, peaceful civil disobedience, to protect their future is both simple as that, and powerful as that!

Safely protected under laws designed to guard the personal freedoms of its citizens, I am blessed by instant access to quality information which informs me, enlightens my perspective.  In the closed world of darkness, many people are yet to share my values and privileges.   Thankfully, in anticipation of the Good News, lights are aglow at the Winter Festival display in Calgary's Confederation Park, where Khrystos Razhdayetsia is only one of the emblazoned messages brightly shining over the golf course below. Sharing video clips from around the globe, citizens of the world express hope, faith, and attest to the message Peace on Earth, Good Will to All!  And the world waits with bated breath for a peaceful resolution to the amazingly intense stand-off on the Maidan in Ukraine.

Representatives of the International Community caution powerful forces at the Round Table Discussions to wisdom, to apply universal values, reason and knowledge in the determination of Ukraine's future course, as expressed by the citizen electors.  In the cold days before Christmas, the brave citizens of Ukraine, and an international host of honest people know that the face of tyranny speaks loudest in the darkness.  The good news is, the people on the Maidan know they are not alone at all, not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly indifferent - for this is the time chosen.  May the Light shine over all!

A familiar but new idea for Schedryk - the familiar Carol of the Bells
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uKbK1CPwSs 

In the days before Christmas - both beautiful and moving
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cidy28pELe4&feature=youtu.be

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Politely Speaking or Civil Disobedience

this baran-shaped figure is use as a wine jug,
good for pouring
From my warm chair overlooking the snow-drifted yard I marvel at the huge buck on Nose Hill, his horns rising in supremacy over the tall grasses, now snowy white, sitting in regal dignity among his harem of docile consorts. What tenacious life force holds them there on this cold wintry day?

Another image comes to mind, the million and more throng of protesters lining the broad streets in Kyiv, drinking tea and sharing companionship to stay warm. Intentionally calm and resilient in their third week of civil disobedience of course they are risking punishment from the powers that be.  Their remarkable mutuality of purpose enabled by the unprecedented immediacy of social media releases is disarming.  The Ukrainian citizenry's seeming diversity of opinion has coalesced into a very special and powerful force.  Emotions are high but restrained.  This protest movement is striking, even at a distance. Some have wisely observed the incongruence of 'organized' participants whose actions seem highly and unnecessarily provocative. Indignant confirmations of at least one fatality, and multiple applications of prison sentences for demonstrators, are being shared widely on social media, inflaming emotions further.

At issue is opportunity.  Regular Ukrainian people have lived with a legacy of lost opportunities, of treacherous, and deceitful last minute 'deals' which led to impoverishing conditions, both economic and cultural, for some hundreds of years. Recent negotiations with the EU gave rise to hopes of improved opportunities, although it seems the lessons of history seem to be attempting a reprise.

Subjugated to landlords in the 16th and 17th centuries, Ukrainian people were held in economic, judicial and personal servitude, requiring tribute, rent and labour as payment.  People's arduous work created wealth for the landlords, while they themselves lived in poverty.  While official serfdom was abolished in Russian dominated Ukrainian lands in the mid-late 19th century, it was a brief respite because upon Soviet intervention, retreating from a market based economy deprived urban craftspeople for markets, and deprived them of social and economic structures - they performed service to the empire.  Of course profits accrued for the empire, but not quickly enough.  The collectivization of farms created financial opportunity for the regime who created for the international world an illusion of wealth, at the expense of the labourers who remained in poverty, or worse.

Independence opened the door to capitalism for some who accumulated wealth beyond imagination while most stalwartly acculturated to new times, accustomed to privation.  But with less than seven generations separation from the agrarian life lessons of their ancestry, folk wisdom may still course through their veins. And it knows no linguistic bounds - it is international.  Gargantuan appetites have been mentioned in cheeky folk tales too, so I hope you enjoy a read of the traditional English folk song, The Derby Ram!

As I was going to Derby, upon a market day, I saw the biggest ram, Sir, that was ever fed with hay. 
The ram was fat behind, Sir, the ram was fat before.He measured ten yards round,Sir,I think it was no more. 
The wool grew on his back, Sir, it reached to the sky. And there the eagles built their nests. I heard the young ones cry.
The wool grew on his belly, Sir, and reached to the ground.'Twas sold in Derby town, Sir, for forty thousand pounds. 
The wool upon his tail, Sir, filled more than fifty bags.You had better keep away, Sir, when that tail shakes and wags. 
The horns upon his head, Sir, were as high as a man could reach. And there they built a pulpit, Sir, the Quakers for to preach. 
The mutton that the ram made, gave the whole army meat. And what was left, I'm told, Sir, was served out to the fleet. 
Oh, as I was going to Derby, upon a market day, I saw the biggest ram, Sir, that was ever fed with hay.

Plast Malanka 2014

The PLAST Ukrainian Scouting Association of Calgary will be holding its Annual Fundraiser MALANKA on Saturday, January 18, 2014 again at the prestigious Calgary Petroleum Club.  

This sparkling evening of great ambiance, delicious food, really entertaining guest artists, and amazingly good dance band music is simply so enticing you cannot miss it! Featured performances by Vasyl Popadiuk and the Vohon' Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will bring a cultural flair to the evening!  In traditional fashion, PLAST celebrates dance diversity too by hosting two bands for the MALANKA dance floor! The musicians of ZHYTO for the unique jazzy, rock and classic Ukrainian style of Western Canadian polka favorites, and Calgary's own The Real Deal for blues, R& B, funk, soul, swing and beyond.  Really, it is time to plan for this fabulous contemporary MALANKA New Year Eve Gala!

Plast Ukrainian Scouts has an amazingly dedicated body of volunteers working to create a truly vibrant scouting experience for children in Calgary. Quality programs for encouraging Ukrainian identity on the western plains are extremely important for many families - language, culture, the scouting rule, and great community!  

Tickets are available online at  http://www.plast.ca/calgary/malanka/ but you can always contact Roman at 403-241-1781 or Paul at 403-249-3157.   

Kerby Centre Malanka 2014

Malanka
http://www.artbylarisa.com/
Sending the old year packing, and embracing the changes coming in the new year, Calgary's Kerby Centre is inviting seniors to MALANKA 2014!

MALANKA is the Ukrainian folk holiday celebrated in accordance with the Julian calendar, to welcome the new year.  Across North America, some MALANKA events focus on the traditional ancestral ways of Ukrainians, imbued with rich wisdom, filled with symbols, and images.  Tenaciously and precariously pitched between the old and new times, the Ukrainian New Year MALANKA is conceptually a treasure chest full of folk strategies for life enhancement, so good may ultimately conquer evil, paving the way for peace, good health and prosperity in the new times ahead.  Cold winter nights may be ripe for pondering, but Malanka isn't just an excuse to party, it is part of the ancestral lifestyle to create community together!  Of course, a modern-day Malanka function tends to embrace the social fashions of the day, frequently a New Year's banquet and dance with lovely entertainment of a cultural flair.   

The Kerby Centre's very enthusiastically received Ukrainian New Year's MALANKA 2013 celebration, has encouraged the leadership there to do it again! This year's KERBY CENTRE MALANKA 2014 is being held on January 21, 2014 - it's time to get your tickets!

KERBY CENTRE MALANKA 2014 will again showcase Ukrainian food (pyrohy, holubtsi, kovbasa and a sweet), dancing and music with the talented dedicated people from Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Theatre and Korinnya Ukrainian Folk Ensemble as ambassadors of Ukraine's great cultural traditions. The Ukrainian Museum of Canada, Calgary Branch (located at 404 Meredith Road NE Calgary) will provide cultural artifacts to enhance the traditional ambiance required of this important MALANKA event!

Located in the heart of Calgary, the Kerby Centre is an agency committed to enhancing the lives of seniors through education and recreation. MALANKA 2014 at the KERBY CENTRE is very soon, so it is important for families to pre-register their requests early to reserve a spot. Call 403-705-3233. For more information call 403.265.0661 or visit 1133-7th Ave. S.W.,  Calgary, Alberta. 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

It's About the Children

seven-generations.com
Euromaidan 2013 could not have a more important agenda!  At first, the whole protest movement seemed to be about the people's anger with the government fumble in not signing the EU Association documents as was planned, promoted, advertised and celebrated all over Ukraine. Of course finances come into the question but there is more.  The young democracy emerged from its empire, feudalism and colonial serfdom relatively recently.  And the nightmarish embrace of the past is trying voraciously to devour the opportunities of the future.  Some of Ukraine's "bear-ish" neighbours, spawning many like-minded "bear-cubs", have persistently asserted themselves into the very thought patterns of this young nation.

Given a good reading of the Ukrainian psyche, it could mean that the children are anxious, feeling bullied and worried about family members themselves. Ukrainian folklore and literature is full of these themes. Know yourself, observe and know others, work around obstacles, don't react, guard your self esteem, recognize your significance, help others, speak truth to power, recognize insults as childish, use wisdom and laugh to restore perspective. But nightmares of past atrocities, past injustices, past incidents that prevented self reliant actualization have dogged Ukrainians for a long time.

The long list of persistent stress-ors that have impacted on the Ukrainian agenda are signals of serious problems that need healing. Every caring person, Ukrainian or otherwise, wants to contribute to their children's better future, to give them the tools for engaging the world in a powerful and satisfying manner. Everyone wants their children's success, happiness, and peace. And most wise people know it "takes a village to raise a child", "nobody is an island unto himself".

Ukraine's international diaspora has had the distance, time and opportunity to infuse its children with values, social and historical understandings which create pockets of Ukrainian identity. Crucially, those of us children, raised in the "little villages" around the world have a positive sense of self, identifying with ancestral homeland in a myriad of small and seemingly insignificant ways. Our aspirational neighbourhoods have shaken any vestige of economic or feudal bondage to our past, and this is the envy of people in Ukraine.

Euromaidan 2013 has coalesced in its emotionally resolute, ethical stance to correct the strategic focus of their government's work, from chumming with thuggish neighbours, to creating vibrant, healthy communities, economically healthy neighbourhoods and healthy friends for all their children's children.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

CALGARY EUROMAIDAN DECEMBER 1st Singleness of Purpose

Calgary November 23,2013
Soaring expectations for change fed by the Ukrainian government's negotiation with the European Union have whetted the appetite of Ukrainians everywhere! Months of anticipation spawned a civic awakening in Ukraine, an optimism dashed in the recent disappointing government refusal of the EU offer.  It seems these were pseudo negotiations, and today's social, economic and political situation in Ukraine has galvanized an invigorating civic awareness, leading citizens to press for the removal of their ruling elite. Today, extreme disappointment with political leadership, and hungry for political change, has led to hundreds of peaceful mass protests in Ukraine and her widely spread diaspora.  A pressure cooker of change is currently brewing.
The prognosis for the future of these protests is yet to be decided but hopeful.

Singleness of purpose is a gift that keeps giving.  Chasing the truth truth through history, archaeology, and literature is one thing.  But the burbling anger emerging from analysis of statistics is different.  Historical documents now proving the horrendous acts contributing to the Ukrainian Holodomor of the 1930's continue to shine light on uncomfortable truths. And as my daughter once said, "Once someone tells you who they truly are, believe them!" Former subjects of a regime, and now citizens of a baby democracy schooled in the social media age, Ukrainians cannot deny the false premises upon which their government has gained such access and opportunity for kleptocratic behaviour.  Public awareness is rising, but Ukraine has been denied so often, it's enemies are cunning and patient.

Anyone paying attention to the hot spots in social media this week recognizes the importance of the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv and elsewhere in the world.  Hundreds of thousands of people are watching in nervous anticipation. For a patient people, such exaggerated focus on the protests resulting from Ukraine's disappointing government refusal to sign the EU Association agreement is perhaps out of character. Other issues generally usurp everyone's attention, but for today this issue must be kept relentlessly in the foreground! Ukraine's opportunities to grow into a prosperous free and democratic nation have been been insidiously infected with parasites.  Given a choice, nobody has wanted to speak on such issues. But developing trends in politics, high stakes power struggles, machinations and clashing interests are subjects of public discourse in this young democracy. At the very core of this protest movement is the belief that Ukraine's biggest obstacle to her future prosperity is myopic, fearful denial of truth. A growing maturity of purpose is evident in the latest protest demonstrations in Ukraine.  Recognizing the risks, the Ukrainian people are hugely optimistic for the potential for change. Change is coming.  May it help the Ukrainian nation.

Supporters of this movement, Ukrainians and Canadians of good will are rallying together Sunday, December 1st at Olympic Plaza in Calgary at 3:30 PM!

CALGARY EUROMAIDAN DECEMBER 1, 2013

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Christmas Carol Festival 2013 Calgary


Every year Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry face the same dilemma.  One Christmas, two Christmases?  The Canadian calendar places the feast day on December 25th, but the church calendar of ancestral tradition places Rizdvo - the Nativity of Christ, on January 7th.  And each year we say we're going to cut back, simplify, to have a family Christmas that focuses on the real reason for the season.  But every year we fall under the spell of commercialism,  the advertisement, the need to indulge, even though the heart yearns for something sacred, for something more peaceful and true.  Something of depth, of wisdom, and of ancestral significance, in the language of familial homeland somehow just fills the spirit in deep places you didn't even know you had, until it is filled.  That is the koliada of the ancient Ukrainian tradition.  
This Nativity season, try to cut through the hype, leave behind the things that exhaust you, and make you broke.  Instead, try to experience the joy of common truths, of community, of togetherness and understanding.  Cultivate a different kind of Christmas - and this year join the Ukrainian community of Calgary in its Ukrainian Annual Festival of Carols, the celebration of Ukrainian Christmas Carols!


You will hear the charming voices of Korinnya Ukrainian Choir, of Ukrainian school children, of perhaps a bandura player or two.  And your heart will melt in a feeling of peace, togetherness and understanding. 

The annual Calgary Ukrainian Festival of Carols 2013 will be held on Sunday, December 8, at 7:00 pm  at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at 704 6 Street NE, Calgary, Alberta.  

And for samples from last year's Ukrainian Festival of Carols 2012, check these links.

Iryna Kalinovich performs bandura Спи, Ісусе- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jonIBJFbds

Calgary Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Choir performs Bethlehem Rejoice (in Ukrainian) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBvArPHZJZg

Calgary's St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Church Choir performs Proclaiming Joy (in Ukrainian) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqpTCMhUYgY

Don't you just wonder what beautiful Ukrainian Christmas sounds you will hear this year?

Monday, 25 November 2013

Viter - the Wind Sings a Malanka Melody 2014


My family used to sing all the time,  it seemed the minute we got into the car there was a melody in the air.  I especially miss my dad's singing.  His voice was so lovely, and when mom sang along it was like a choir in the car.  Of course I had to join in.

Thank heavens the tradition is continuing, because my brother carries this fine tradition in his genetic make-up.  So, for him, singing in Viter Ukrainian Choir and Dance Ensemble of Edmonton is a gift to himself, his family and friends.

Viter's  achievements are to numerous to mention! They have developed a real following with their regular performances here in Alberta, but also across the prairies too! Their tours to international places have taken our prized Alberta Ukrainian folk tradition back to the ancestral places in Ukraine, but also to far flung locales to new appreciative audiences! I heard they have plans to tour in Europe again this 2014 season. 

For an opportunity to join their fun, and bring in the Ukrainian New Year in a Malanka way, check out the links on their poster! Not sure you will see my brother dance, but he sure has a way with a melody!

Check out their promotional video at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6G9pvZuhXA


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Standing in Solidarity - Calgary EuroMaidan Євромайдан

It has been a particularly busy Ukrainian Calgary weekend; warm, satisfying, thoroughly moving, and an indication of the values retained by Canadians of Ukrainian decent here on the western prairies of Canada. 

Filling St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Cultural Centre upper hall, Saturday's Commemoration of the Holodomor began with the singing of Otche Nash by Korinnya Choir, conducted by Iryna Kalynovich.  Then the Ukrainian clergy of Calgary led the Panachyda/Requiem.  Korinnya then sang the traditional Song of the Cranes, a song of farewell.  Dr. Bohdan Klid spoke about the intense academic and research work being conducted worldwide in regards to the truths hidden in documents only recently available to the public!  Very special guests Spiritus Chamber Choir of Calgary performed the Ukrainian Requiem for the Holodomor,as composed by Roman Hurko, with amazing bass-baritone soloist Paul Grindlay intoning the priest's part, conducted by Tim Shantz.  Svitanok, a girls singing group performed a couple of beautiful pieces. Then a dramatic reading/presentation involving the young people of CYM Ukrainian association was followed by a communal singing of Vichnaya Pamyat' - Eternal Memory.   

To a person, the community was very focused, still and extremely attentive to the program.  Appreciative of the great effort, love and care taken by the program participants in preparing for this important commemoration, comments included, "tremendous!", "so thankful to have been here", "what an important community connection we have here", "these are the best people!" Many, many were especially thankful for the deeply moving singing of the Requiem by Spiritus, an English speaking, Canadian choir.  It was an important day to honour the memory of the Holodomor victims in a quest to sensitize people to the lessons in world history.  May we never forget, and may the world be protected from such horrendous cruelty!  Never again!

Ukrainian churches across Calgary served memorial requiem Panachyda prayers Sunday morning. 
And on Sunday night in peaceful solidarity with thousands of Ukrainians across Ukraine, Canada and the world, about a hundred Calgarians gathered at Olympic Square across from City Hall for Calgary's EuroMaidan, Євромайдан, Showing their solidarity with the 100,000 (in Kyiv alone!) Calgarians voiced their concern for Ukraine's disengagement with their landmark opportunity for association with the European Union. Singing anthems, hymns, and joining together in common support for Ukrainian aspirations to European democratic values, and economic opportunity, these are Canadians of merit and principle!  

Together, we are many!  This weekend in particular, those of us with ancestry in another land, far away, were intensely thankful for our Canadian way of life! Appreciative, and aware that people in other lands aspire to such opportunities and privileges, we stood together in solidarity! 

To hear Korinnya check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR1e83UfIGU&feature=youtube_gdata 
And for a melodic reminder of how long Ukrainians have carried these ancestral aspirations check here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E09kWXwsEj8  for

Боже Великий Єдиний (God Great One) - spiritual anthem of Ukraine

ps proud to say Calgary was only one of the 92 ( to date ) EuroMaidan events!
check the map here https://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/euromaidanmap.gccpeja0/page.html#4/50.82/44.47


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sharing the Story in Calgary

For want of bread, the Breadbasket of Ukraine starved!  The International Week of Remembrance for the Holodomor has many facets in Calgary including a CYM -Ukrainian Youth - Candlelight Vigal to be held on Friday night at the Holodomor Memorial off Memorial Drive - at 7PM.  If you haven't already seen the Herald article from Monday,November 18th's paper, make a point of checking the Herald Archive online at https://webmail2.telus.net/service/home/~/?auth=co&loc=en_GB&id=6084&part=2.

Besides all the important public recognition events, perhaps lighting a candle in the window at 4PM, or asking clergy to ring church bells to mark the hour of the 80th anniversary would be much appreciated (19:32).

Bread is such an important image in Ukrainian tradition, and of course with the events of the Holodomor receiving international recognition, takes on much deeper significance.  If you are thinking of baking bread, remember the poor and hungry!  And donate to the homeless shelter but tell the story! 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Lysychka Sestrichka - Foxy Loxy

lk 2013
My daughter sent me this photo, "Look who I saw on the way to work today!"  driving through the Northern Alberta Boreal Forest! The harsh, long and cold winter season has finally arrived in Calgary, but for workers in Canada's economic frontier,  Lysychka Sestrichka is the spirited red-hair Foxy lady that guides the trek into the Boreal Forest. Isn't she the perfect example of elegant discernment, resilience, intelligence and beauty!

Some readers know I am a nut-case for human folklore and mythology. Of course the fox in popular culture is a vixen, a female, which is perhaps not too bad because the phrase "to outfox" means "to beat in a competition of wits, to "outsmart" or "outwit". In First Nations wisdom, the Trickster is an alchemist, a culture hero who questions the status-quo, and transforms beliefs when a way of thinking becomes outmoded or needs to be torn down.  In most folklore, what is meaningful about seeing Lysychka Sestrichka - the Foxy Lady, is that she appears as a time of major life transition. In Ukrainian folklore, Lysyschka Sestrichka is a smart girl, agile and adaptable.

Both daughters were born in the north.  The city was a third of the size, but Fort McMurray's Ukrainian Cultural Society was a going concern, with pysanka and paska workshops, guest performers, community events and Ukrainian dance school of 100 children.  Even then the quick witted Lysychka Sestrichka and her friend Lys Mykyta sat on the other side of the bridge crossing the breathtakingly beautiful Athabasca River, winking in shared humour at how complex, yet simple everything can be.  Of course there is danger at the edge of civilization, but there is also an excitement and exhilaration about quick and agile thinking.  The spirit of the fox may imply that one is sharpening their physical alertness and responsiveness!

Ivan Franko's superb light hearted story of Lys Mykyta, a fable full of humour, and wisdom was once as essential to each Ukrainian Canadian pioneer home as Mother Goose. It really is a brilliantly constructed ancient tale about the irresistible, independent and indomitable Fox Mykyta whose insights into human frailty enables his eventual triumphs. Today's readers might understand Fox Mykyta as a classic example of emotional intelligence at work! Tenacious, indeed!  Watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpROlAmhDyU&list=PLI9utbP7GG229aWKt6TRhxM0uImJ4-hSl to see  Лис Микита.  

Monday, 11 November 2013

Chaika - Tchaikovsky

People hear the name Tchaikovsky and instantly beautifully dressed ballet dancers and the Trepak Dance of the famous Nutcracker Suite take shape in the memory. And because winter is right around the corner, for some traditionalists it would be a sadder Christmas season without visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in your head. But, of course, that is not the whole story.

Given his Ukrainian heritage, for an opportunity to see a Ukrainian folk ballet based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, incorporating Ukrainian Christmas traditions, folk dance, costumes and the grand orchestral sound featuring many Ukrainian folk song themes, head to Edmonton's Jubilee Auditorium on January 10 and 11th to enjoy the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers and soloists of the Virsky Ukrainian State Folk Dance Company and Kyiv Ballet perform Clara's Dream.

barbaricfrontier.ca
Though often referred to as a Russian composer, his family lineage extends deep into Ukraine's history. I suppose if a person like Rick Mercer moved to work in the States, he might eventually be considered an American, but there are a lot of Canadians marketing their talents internationally! So, let's consider Tchaikovsky in such a circumstance.

During the Russian Empire and Soviet Union's domination over 15 separate countries, most everyone seeking serious economic opportunity got to Moscow somehow. Learning the language, making cultural faux pas and adapting, gaining economic advantage over time was part of the journey. And Tchaikovsky journeyed in the arts world, too.

Chaika, the root word in Tchaikovsky's name actually speaks of the fortified military camp life associated with the Zaporizhian Sich on the island of Khortytsia, a convenient place where Cossacks could defend themselves, fish, keep bees, breed livestock, hunt and of course build ocean worthy ships. Today a State Historic and Culltural Reserve, its nearby rocks and islands attest to the water-worthiness of the chaika boats (fly like a gull over the water!) that plied the Dnipro, and Ukraine's Velikey Luh - the alkaline Black Sea. http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/25083462.html

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Calgary International Holodomor Remembrance Day 2013

brama.com
Let us remember together on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Centre at 404 Meredith Road NE.

No melody, sound, word or prayer can change history, but the spirit yearns in empathy to learn from its lessons.  Holod means hunger, and mor means plague - hence the Holodomor, to intentionally inflict death by hunger, victimizing millions of Ukrainians some 80 years ago.

Broadening the scope of community involvement, a general invitation is extended from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress - Calgary Branch http://www.calgaryucc.org/ to Calgarians of good-will to stand together in a moment of silence, to acknowledge, honour and remember the victims of the Holodomor. Thankful of Canada's rich respect for the gifts of multicultural and multilingual ancestry, the Calgary Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress welcomes community participants, also boldly inviting Spiritus Chamber Choir spirituschamberchoir.ca, with soloist Paul Grindlay, to sing the spiritually moving Ukrainian Requiem (Panachyda) composed by Roman Hurko http://www.romanhurko.com/ - a contemporary Canadian composer of Ukrainian extraction.

A general invitation is extended to all temples of worship to toll their bells at 19:32 and mark the Memorial with a moment of silence in international recognition of the sanctity of life, and remembrance.  Lighting candles of remembrance honours the countless millions as well.

For those inquiring minds wishing to immerse themselves and gain a better understanding, please check out the link at http://www.yluhovy.com  for an award winning documentary about the Holodomor.

Canada Remembers - the World Acknowledges. It is time to share the story.  http://www.sharethestory.ca/ 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Living Vicariously - Museum Visit

With our cold winters, Calgary travellers frequently choose warm weather beach vacations for a good reason. Workers in the north, wearing boots fitted to minus 70 try to escape the cold somehow.  And though Calgary has its frequent phenomenal chinook days, when the minus 20 Celsius winter cold changes in a day to plus 20, it is a brief respite.  The "snow eater" sucks up the humidity from the melting snow, and quickly disappears, followed by more winter.

You can, though take a trip to visit the world online.  And the riches of the world's museums are often a click away. It wasn't always so, and Ukraine's museums were notoriously difficult to access when you considered roads, travel time, inconvenience and a lack of tourist amenities. Not so any more.

Not sure who is the brain child behind the new virtual museums on-line in Ukraine, but kudos to you!  And thanks!

http://incognita.day.kiev.ua/exposition

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Opportunity of a Lifetime

dirt sifter, like at the farm
Imagine the emotion of an early homesteader taking the long trek into unbroken bush, looking for a metal post that marked their property. It makes me shudder. Imagine hauling all your personal belongings, your life-mate and perhaps some progeny into this "opportunity of a lifetime"! Determined to make a go of things, they lifted their faces into the challenge. Build a shelter, dump the important luggage and set to work!

I was a very adventuresome snooper when I visited Baba and Dido's farm as a child, especially the bush behind the granaries. The delight of discovering little crockery dishes, a metal ring from some machine, and a wooden frame with a net of metal wires strung along the bottom (which my dad said was a sifter) gave me a thrill. Of course I thought it was strange that the flour sifter was left out near the garden edge in the bush, and instantly went about my playtime.

A couple of decades ago, the city planted quick growing poplars on our boulevard.  Over the years its greedy roots had found comfort around the warm sewer drain on the corner. That tree was the largest in the neighbourhood, and unfortunately the very last to dump its autumn leaves, a vexing habit. When it finally met its maker, the huge network of pencil or thicker strands of roots tunnelling horizontally 3-5 inches beneath the soil waited for me. Greedily sucking nutrients in the black soil, they intruded in my flower gardens. Dirt stained hands, and delighting in the smells, I took huge satisfaction from my small task of root pulling. 

I recall reading about the trembling aspen that is native to Alberta. With a tremendous amount of seeds, and regenerating by root suckering, each tree is a clone, identical to its densely situated brothers, and quickly replaced when chopped down. Any attempt to clear cut would simply maximize regeneration! How would have these acres and acres of aspen poplar bush become Pra-Baba and Pra-Dido's farm, much less a garden? 

Pulling trees, stumps and woody root strands from the damp, dark, soil would be exhausting work, and the warm season was short. Problem solving help-mates and ambitious dreamers, over the years they would eventually push the eager intruders back, negotiate a truce while filtering the soil free of offending, noxious seeds and weeds. Though some stands of trees would prevail over any human effort to clear them, people like my other grandfather had castles on the mind.  He put the stone boat to use and hauled the stones that grew up in the field to the perimeter, building an impressive stone wall around the yard. Castles indeed! An opportunity of a lifetime!













Friday, 1 November 2013

Planting Seeds at Harvest Time

knowalberta.ca
Every farmer knows that, though the crops have been brought in, the fall season is very important to next season's harvest. Today's far-sighted plans will predict the future! Responding correctly in this season of life will pay great dividends.

Fall is such a beautiful time, the leaves, the trees, even the last rose on the bush make for gorgeous sights. The smell of fallen leaves, the faint chill in the air, and the odd snow skiff remind us that the growing season is over. The time for weddings, and for harvest festivals is ripe. Time to appreciate what was, what has been, with a sense a gratitude and peaceful meditation.

A song from my youth circles in my mind. "To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season.....and a time to every purpose under heaven." No doubt, life is unfolding, as it should!

Reminders of all the goodness, all the abilities, talents and energy the Ukrainian community in Canada are everywhere - including on the web. Websites, photos, advertising, reports, media coverage, event planning, on-line stores, and of course the interconnected physical and social community plugging away at their fundraisers in order to pay bills, and hire specialized labourers. It all speaks of character and values.

Fedorah hall
flickr.com
A while back my folks let me take a read through of the first minutes book of the women's organization in the rural community where the great-grandparents homesteaded. Amazing! Simply phenomenal that during the hard years, when life really was about putting food on the table, that they would put aside their personal hardships and dream together. Not only did they dream, their industrious hands gathered the pennies, nickels and dimes to build churches and halls dotted all across the prairies. Everyone chipped in. Then it was time to party in the hall across the road.

In preparation for the Remembrance Day assembly, I have taught my school students to appreciate that though the audience may not applaud, there is true appreciation there, if you look carefully. As the farmers have brought the harvest home, many, many individuals have gathered together to plant seeds for another type of harvest. Look around and see the huge bounty in the Ukrainian community! "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9) While it may seem burdensome to constantly be doing good, living with purpose speaks of character and values. Time to take a big, deep sigh of satisfaction, and know - it is good.







Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Notre Dame of the Kerchief - Покрова

slavorum.com
Telling the truth can be dangerous, but very cathartic and healing, too.  Hidden behind the beautiful traditional Ukrainian kerchief хустка, women have consciously or not, hidden our culture's vulnerability, meekly submitted to patriarchal authority with a veneer of politic appropriateness while seething truths roil beneath. Romantic images of pious women praying, or stalwartly labouring, enduring drudgery and pain for the life of kin and kindred, this is the Ukrainian woman of ancestral tradition. But though family relationships dominate the thoughts of women everywhere, conflicts and conflicted emotions cannot but foster an inquiring mind.  Raising children means obsessing on the future. And children bring inexhaustible opportunity for questions, articulate discussion, and often piercingly accurate observations. And yet the indomitable, protective instinct of women persists and is the stuff of legend.

Statue of Lesya Ukrainka
 near the Murray Building, University of Saskatchewan,
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Raised in Canada, quasi-Ukrainian, interested in the culture, traditions and nice stuff, I was protected from the brutality my family endured in the home-places in Ukraine. A guest in their home, I accept the truths they were willing to share. In a shocking moment of truth, with the recognition of the blood line coursing forward through time, the guardian of truth performs a public heresy.  With Ukrainian Baba's urgent removal of her veil of silence she utters revelations about the vulgar acts of men, and their gut-wrenching dispensation with hope, life and opportunity.  (the war time experiences) A profound empathy engulfs me and I am awe struck by the deep, dark sorrow some of these women have carried in their hearts. I cannot fathom their gentle, kerchief veiled, pious stance on street corners and temples of prayer. I cannot suffer their patience, for the imperative of the modern world screams " it is enough", "it is time!"

One of the most interesting women literary heretics of the past century is Lesia Ukrainka Леся Українка (1871-1913).  Her exquisite mystical writing evokes Ukrainian folkloric beliefs and superstitions connected with natural phenomena. Yet she suffers a silent war even today, for in her dramas she quietly raises the question 'why?' http://www.utoronto.ca/elul/English/Ukrainka/Ukrainka-ForestSong.pdf  Fanciful and rich of spirit, today her voice is relatively silent while the inventive and hypocritical popular media brazenly lures with its vapid glamour, easy consumption and disposal.  And the wise keepers of the hearth who know better generously nurture the thirsty with coffee and beautiful handmade Ukrainian delicacies.
calgary ukrainian festival
amk2012

Ancient wisdom ends the harvest season
and begins the wedding season
on the day of Pokrova.
A young bride
exchanges her veil for a kerchief.
Who will ask Baba 'why?' Why is it so?  Why did they emigrate? Why did they scrimp and save? What motivated the building of churches, community halls, libraries, museums and the like all over Ukraine's international diaspora?  Why the dance groups, the casinos, the bingos, the festivals, the community events?  Tired of the loneliness of silence, or fiercely tenacious?

Truth be told, our emigrating families fiercely blazed trail, surviving a barrage of dangers in the passionate hope of a better future. Beneath Baba's kerchief where pain and patience endured, Notre Dame of the Kerchief carries blessing, protection, intercession, and healing - the Pokrova, Покрова Пресвятої Богородиці.





Saturday, 26 October 2013

Happiness is Singing in Korinnya Choir

Happiness is Singing in Korinnya Choir
http://www.korinnya.com/
Making music is one of the special human talents that persists across cultures, languages and through space and time. Researchers are beginning to confirm that music making may actually be a necessity of life, perhaps even a self-medicating process. There is recognition that listening to music, passive participation, gets more dopamine to the brain's pleasure spots. I have heard that music activates, stimulates and lights up the entire brain!

Active listening enhances hearing, a good thought that could help prevent age-related hearing loss. Active singing makes the speech process more effective too. And it has been proven that children who have musical training show increases in IQ, memory and verbal skills, too. Singing augments and sustains speaking.  When the beat, the rhythm and lyrics synchronize, and others hear, focus, listen actively and join in, there is learning.  All that curiosity about how to fit together helps develop empathy, anticipation, and intuition.  Solving the puzzle of what will happen next in the music makes a person feel positive, enthusiastic, confident and alert!  Singing takes focused breathing which takes discipline and increases aerobic strength. Your immune system and hormone responses are more healthy after singing too!Music making is like playing a game, and the brain actually lights up with delight!
Korinnya 2013

Even singing nonsense words, or snippets of songs from a deep place of memory can induce a health enhancing mystical, stress releasing reverie.  Music making breaches the uncomfortable chasm of social and emotional distance between humans and makes us more resilient!

No doubt your personal instrument is simply waiting for an invitation  - so while you ponder, put a bunch of Ukrainian Youtube karaoke videos on your playlist and make music! And for an enhanced feeling of belonging to a great group, that embraces the Ukrainian idea here in Calgary - Korinnya Ukrainian Folk Ensemble is inviting you!

Rehearsals take place on Monday evenings at the CYM Hall at 924 Edmonton Trail NE, but for more information check at info@korinnya.com or 403-283-7663.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Eighty Thousand Voices - Lethbridge Exhibition Park 2013

Eighty Thousand Voices
one of the songs presented at the Calgary/Banff unveiling
June/September 2013
amk
Between September 30, 1914 and November 7, 1916, hundreds of civilian internees cycled through the Lethbridge Internment Camp, one of 24 such sites in Canada first National Internment Operations. The camp operations treated men, women and children who arrived in Canada carrying Austro Hungarian Empire documents as enemy aliens.  In hindsight it has been revealed that most of them were ethnic Ukrainians, immigrants to Canada, whose homeland was caught in the borderland territorial land grabs by empires surrounding Ukraine.

The impact of this type of war measure's act upon newly minted (or almost minted) Canadians, was huge. In this 99th anniversary year of commencement of the First World War, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Lethbridge city officials are unveiling a permanent memorial plaque to these civil internees on Tuesday, October 29th at 1:30 PM at the Lethbridge Exhibition Park, 3401 Parkside Drive South.

The ceremony will take place outside the South entrance of Heritage Hall, pending weather. With significant construction under-way in the area, traffic flow issues may cause guests concern. Therefore Calgary's Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association is planning to arrange for transportation for interested guests to the site at Lethbridge Exhibition Park.

For more information contact UKRAINIAN CANADIAN PROFESSIONAL & BUSINESS ASSOCIATION OF CALGARY at 403-670-5477 or e-mail: admin@ucpbacalgary.org or www.ucpbacalgary.ca.  To make a donation, please contact Roman at  media@uccla.ca.

Arkan - the Lasso

Halyna Koszarycz
Arkan
amk2013
A friend of mine is taking a university course for which she needs to gather music representative of cultures studied in the Alberta classroom.  A music specialist, she and I speak a common language.  Leaning on the cultural inheritance of the non British world, we have an accumulated understanding that the rhythms and melodic shapes are directly derived from the language and syntax of indigenous peoples the world over. So when you hear a specific melody, a lilt in the phrase, a bounce in the rhythms, these are all pulled from the natural speech patterns of regular people in their culturally specific lives, somewhere in the world.

So I extracted a few Ukrainian folk songs for my friend's assignment.  I would have loved to provide her with authentic sounds and rhythms, but as she needed to interpret them herself for the class, it would have proven time consuming.  In order to make the process easy, I originally selected music that was perhaps more western in phrase and rhythm than indigenously Ukrainian.  And I suspect this is why our music is "straightened out" and "fixed", so often.

Nonetheless, the intent was to provide Ukrainian folk-song material to be included in the instructional cycle of a music specialist in public school.  I had an interesting time considering what would be appropriate and fun, so I chose a non-text melody for Arkan - the lasso.  If you have ever seen Ukrainian dancing, one of the circle dances of western Ukraine is Arkan. Arkan is a popular dance of Ukrainian Hutsul people, those of south-western Ukraine.  Traditionally performed by men around a burning bonfire, they stand with arms upon each other's shoulders.  Arkan refers to the step performed around the fire.  Stepping on the right foot, the left foot crosses behind, the right foot steps to the side again and the left foot is brought in front of the dancer with a bent knee, and then the right foot is brought in front of the dancer with a bent knee. The winding step is essentially a rope or lasso that encircles the flame.

The flames lap at their feet as the men fly around the circle in an attempt to capture the flame with their lasso, embracing the primordial vortex of energy  -  this is the arkan.  The cultural baggage with this arkan dance is probably rich with symbols and practical meaning.  I suspect is has to do with keeping the men fit and enthused during the long cold nights in the mountains, vigilant by night, possibly trading, lumber-jacking or on the war-path by day.  I once read how Ukrainian dance is a thinly veiled martial art.  Intriguing, no?

Аркан-гуцульський танець

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8FBnZPTIuM

We Were Here

Stone Baba
Velike/Velichne Art Exhibit
Kyiv August 2013amk
When Canadians see an Inukshuk, we are reminded of the ancient history of the Inuit people.  Their piled stone sentinels marked the Arctic landscape, sparsely populated but consistently inhabited for thousands of years.  Over the course of European presence in North America, these stone statues represent the lingering aspirations of a people, to be remembered. Reminders of the human hands that intentionally gathered, interpreted, shaped and piled the stones, their dreams of eternal memory linger. For Canadians, the Inuit inukshuk tells us of a people who were here long ago.

For the newcomer, the Ukrainian term Baba means grandmother.  Or rather, it is an honorific that is used when referring to an older woman, in this case a grandmother.  Baba, Babushka, Babusia,  Babunia, these are all endearments, all referring with respect and honor a woman of wisdom, perhaps but not necessarily older, representative of lineage, heritage, family, wisdom, care and love.  The term Baba is generously applied across the spectrum within the Ukrainian world, in Ukraine and in the diaspora.

stone baba
Odessa museum
July 2013amk
stone baba - Feodosia museum
July 2013amk
The storied history of the lands north of the Black Sea extends back thousands of years, many thousands of years into prehistory when preliterate cultures dotted the landscape.  Living full lives, and attesting to their very existence, they left stones of honor over kurhan grave mounds.  Whether simple, or carved, weather battered or protected under the soil, these stone Babas witness to the past.  And they are now protected in some of the great museums in Eastern Europe.

stone baba
Odessa museum
July 2013
Stone Babas, now battered and ravaged by weather, raiders, guests and colonizers once dotted the landscape.  Markers of ancient burial sites called kurhans, they protected the offerings of bone and wealth within, and witnessed the rising of the sun over the horizon, in anticipation of an afterlife for the souls released.  It is said that nothing goes wasted, so most of the stone Babas have put put to new use, recycled into the foundations of some temple to more modern ways.  The stone Babas that remain however, say "we were here" to anyone passing, even though now most of them stand lonely and silent in parks, museums and storage sites.

stone baba
Odessa museum
July 2013
I once mentioned the word Baba came from the east, from a time when languages were still young - and the word was an honorific. Today you can hear people of Hindi background refer to their honoured leaders, wise ones or valued life companions with the term Baba.  It makes me happy to know the rich, cultural baggage that comes with the honoured title Baba.  Baba - the guardian, the honoured one, the sentinel, the silent keeper of ancestral memory with but one wish - the hope that someone would notice - "we were here".     Eternal memory!