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Ukrainians in Canada

20.01.2015

SACRAL HERITAGE WORKSHOP

       A workshop funded by the Killam Foundation at the University of Alberta was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba at St. Benedict’s Retreat and Conference Centre.  The purpose of the workshop was to explore how members of the academy, specifically the faculty at the University of Alberta and Cape Breton University involved in the Sanctuary Project, might work with the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of Canada to help them utilize academic research in Church decision-making. 

      Present at the workshop were Natalie Kononenko, Marcia Ostashewski, and Frances Swyripa from the Sanctuary Project team.  John-Paul Himka, also a member of the team, was unable to attend.  Roman Yereniuk represented the collection work done at the University of Manitoba. He was joined by Robert Klymasz, formerly of the Museum of Civilization.  Metropolitan Lawrence Huculak, Gloria Romaniuk of the Archeparchy Archives, and Rev. Mark Gnutel spoke for the Ukrainian Catholic Church.  The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was represented by Sterling Demchinsky and Rev. Ihor Okhrimtchouk, both of the Rural Issues Committee, and Rev. Roman Bozyk of St. Andrew’s College.  The group was joined by Sophia Kachor from Oseredok and Leonard Krawchuk and Donald Machnee, community activists.  Metropolitan Yuriy Kalistchuk was unable to attend due to health issues. 

      The attendees at the workshop discussed pressing issues of demographic change.  With migration to urban centres and the dwindling membership in rural parishes, churches will need to be closed.  Formulating best policies for meeting the needs of congregations who will lose their churches is a priority.  The closing of churches will involve disposing of both the building and its contents.  Church buildings and the icons, crosses, chalices, vestments, and other items they contain need to be treated with respect.  Because not all buildings and not all church contents can be preserved, policies need to be developed for dealing with these issues.  The workshop, therefore, discussed preservation options and studied how the data compiled by the Sanctuary Project team might be used for developing best practices. 

      The workshop proposed a series of recommendations.  These include the formation of a Consortium of Heritage Institutions which will consist of those present at the workshop plus other academic partners, specifically Natalia Khanenko-Friessen and the scholars at the University of Saskatchewan.  The proposed Consortium will continue field research and documentation.  It will run small workshops in rural areas to train local communities in record-keeping and object maintenance.  It will expand and systematize the digital database of photographs and sound files and make this resource maximally useful to academics, church officials, and interested citizens.  The Consortium will continue to meet on a regular basis and work to develop guidelines to be used in determining which churches to close and when.  Similarly, criteria of uniqueness and representativeness will be formulated.  These can be used in selecting objects for preservation.  Another objective is the standardization of terminology so that available data can be cross-referenced.  The Consortium will seek to involve civic officials who are in charge of heritage issues and heritage preservation. 

      Presenting the rich sacral heritage of Ukrainians in Canada to the public is an important goal and an exhibit, a book, and journal articles are planned.  The exhibit will open at Oseredok in Winnipeg to coincide with 150th anniversary of the confederation of Canada and the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada and then travel to Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Toronto.  The Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies has already requested a book based on Sanctuary work and the completion of that book will be one of the Consortium goals.  

 

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