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Ukrainians in Canada

13.07.2017

BCU FOUNDATION CELEBRATES CANADA 150 IN NATION’S CAPITAL

BCU Foundation Board of Directors members (from left to right)

 Theodosij Buyniak, Orest Kostruba, Roman Medyk (President),

 Oksana Prociuk-Ciz stand in front of the donor wall where the

BCU Foundation is recognized.

 

Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko with BCU Foundation

sponsors and guests.

 

BCU Foundation sponsors and guests stand outside

of the Canadian Museum of History, overlooking the

Ottawa River.

 

BCU Foundation Board Member Ihor Kozak and his wife

Lada Kozak share a laugh with Charles, Prince of Wales

 

 BCU Foundation delegation at the Canadian Museum

of History

 

Guests in front of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the

Canada History Hall

 
 Canada Day celebrations at the Canadian Museum of History
 

Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko speaks to BCU Foundation

guests at the Embassy of Ukraine

 

  Canada Day fireworks

 

This year, in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, Canadians across the country celebrated Canada Day with much pomp and an undeniablyfestive spirit.  Joining in on the celebrations in our nation’s capital was the BCU Foundation and distinguished sponsors of its Canada 150: Building the Ukrainian Story gala and art auction.

 

The gala, which took place on June 16, brought together community members and friends to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary and to raise funds for the launch of a new initiative, the Canada 150 Fund.  This fund will provide scholarship opportunities for Ukrainian Canadian graduate students and young scholars, encouraging research in science, technology, business, finance, and other disciplines.  Its purpose is to help further develop the Ukrainian Canadian story and its impact on the multicultural landscape of Canada, as well as continue the tradition of excellence set by Ukrainians in Canada.

 

The BCU Foundation Canada 150 weekend, which took place from June 29 to July 2, was filled with exclusive experiences tailored to the historic anniversary and location.  Kicking off the weekend’s signature events was a private sunset dinner and boat cruise on the Ottawa River Queen.

 

In addition to BCU Foundation sponsors, in attendance were members of the local Ottawa community who have supported the Canada 150 Fund through financial contributions and donated artwork.  Throughout the cruise passengers enjoyed views which included the Parliament of Canada, Chateau Laurier, the National Art Gallery, 24 Sussex, and various embassies. 

 

The following day guests were treated to a private tour and lunch at the Embassy of Ukraine, hosted by His Excellency, Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko.  The building, once the headquarters of the National Democratic Party of Canada, was purchased with the help and support of the Ukrainian Canadian diaspora, stated Shevchenko.  “We have an open-door policy here,” he said, “We often host community gatherings, and are fortunate to share a close relationship with the Ukrainian community in Ottawa.” 

 

The tour revealed some lesser seen features of the embassy, such as the upstairslibrary which hosts unique memorabilia from previous Ukrainian ambassadors and dignitaries.  Guests also admired the intricate wooden patterned floor featuring a giant sunflower in the main hall of the embassy, which was installed from thousands of individual pieces shipped from Ukraine.

 

During his address, Ambassador Shevchenko highlighted key areas that the embassy is currently focused on developing.  They include the expansion of bilateral trade and defense cooperation between Canada and Ukraine, encouraging the Canadian government to strengthen its sanction regime against Russia and relevant individuals involved in promoting Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine’s east, as well as further strengthening relations with the local Ukrainian Canadian community.  “There is no other embassy that has such strong support from its local diaspora community, and we are very lucky and grateful for this,” said Shevchenko.

 

A new initiative currently being established by the Ukrainian embassy is an educational program promoting student exchanges between Canada and Ukraine.  The program will seek to foster mutual understanding, interest, and building of networks between the two countries.

 

After an exquisite lunch featuring Canadian cuisine, BCU Foundation sponsors and guests were taken to an exclusive VIP tour and private reception in the hub of the new Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History.

 

In the fall of 2012 the Museum, Canada’s largest cultural institution, began planning a new signature exhibition that would tell the story of Canada and its people.  The exhibition, which officially opened to the public on July 1st, is “unprecedented in size and scope,” said Mark O’Neill, the Museum’s President and CEO.

 

Earlier this year, the BCU Foundation donated $100,000 to the new signature Hall, a contribution acknowledged by O’Neill at the Canada 150: Building the Ukrainian Story gala in June and again at the private reception.  “The Foundation’s support of the Hall has been invaluable to its realization, and we are deeply appreciative of your donation,” said O’Neill.  For its contribution to the telling of a rich Canadian story, the BCU Foundation is recognized on the donor wall located near the Museum’s entrance. 

 

Guests also had the opportunity to hearthe museum’s architect and designer of the new Canada History Hall, Douglas Cardinal, recall how inspiration for the new Hall came to him while sitting on the bank of the Ottawa river.  The architect, who is of Anishinabeg heritage, described how he became overwhelmed by his ancestral native spirits which helped create a vision of a flowing, open, river-like architectural design.  “This is how I wanted to leave my mark for the Canadian people,” Cardinal said.

 

For anyone who enters the new Canada History Hall, there is indeed a sense of thoughtful movement which invokes pensiveness.  As promised, it is unprecedented in size and scope, telling the story of Canada and its people through a variety of immersive experiences and voices.  On the floor at the Hall’s entrance is a giant image of Canada as it looks from space – without political lines or artificial demarcations.  “This is where the story of Canada begins,” said O’Neill, “And as we enter the first hall, we travel back to the very beginning, 15,000 years ago.”

 

“The narrow corridor of the entrance to the Canadian History Hall was etched with mirrored, stainless steel images of notable Canadian landmarks. The most amazing aspect of this concept was the fact that one could see their reflection in the background, making for an integrated self and oneness with the landmark,” noted Katherine Sametz, a BCU sponsor and Canada 150 weekend guest.

 

“Each section [in the Hall] displayed meaningful, carefully chosen artifacts, which represented each human story, including inconceivable injustices [and] the glories of human achievement. The heart, strength and resolve of many of Canada's ‘unsung heroes’ speak to us through photographs, letters and artifacts,” said Sametz.

 

Among the many authentic artifacts that can be seen in the three sections that make up the Canada History Hall is a fully intact andpreserved Ukrainian Catholic pioneer church from Alberta.  Because of its relevance and popularity, it is the only artifact that was kept from the previous Canadian exhibition.  In another nod to the influential role of Ukrainians in Canadian history, the third “modern history” hall touches on the internment of “enemy aliens” during the First World War.

 

"What a fantastic experience!  Being one of the first to see the newly unveiled Canadian History Hall at the Canadian Museum of History was amazing,” said IrkaKostruba, a BCU Foundation sponsor, “Hearing from the architect and museum staff about the work involved to piece together a cohesive and all-inclusive exhibit was awe-inspiring.”

 

The Canada History Hall was officially opened on Canada Day with a ribbon cutting ceremony by their Royal Highnesses Charles the Prince of Wales and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall.  BCU Foundation sponsors had VIP seats in the Great Hall for the historic event, and all even exchanged a few words with the guests of honour.  For the singing of O Canada, a giant Canadian flag unfurled over the crowd’s heads, majestically marking the opening of the Museum’s Canada Day celebrations.  As part of the opening ceremonies, those in attendance were treated to a concert entitled “The People of Canada” which featured five ethnic dance groups, one of which was Ottawa’s Svitanok Ukrainian Dance Society.  The thrilling concert left the audience visibly impressed, with many noting that it showcased “the true multicultural face of Canada.”

 

The rest of the day was filled with an Ottawa city tour which included the downtown core, the ByWard Market, Sussex Drive, Rideau Hall, and Ottawa River Parkways.  The atmosphere in the nation’s capital was an energetic, contagiously festive one.  Buzzing seas of red and white could be seen everywhere, reflecting a true national pride and celebration.

 

That evening BCU Foundation guests were treated to a fine dining experience at the Courtyard, a picturesque restaurant located in the historic ByWard Market.  From there, guests gathered on the bank of the Ottawa river, a prime viewing location, to take in the Canada 150 birthday concert and fireworks.

 

 “I was honoured and privileged to be part of the BCU Foundation delegation representing the Sametz /Chewchuk families as a VIP guest during the Canada Day 150 weekend,” said Katherine Sametz. “What a surreal experience it was for me to be in the epicentre of Canada's 150th, July 1st celebrations, and to be among such warm, heartfelt, intelligent and illustrious members of our Ukrainian community.”

 

“I would like to thank everyone who attended [this weekend’s events] for their support and participation, as well as the larger Ukrainian community for their constant backing, inspiration, contributions to our successes, and for contributing to the Canada 150 Fund” said Lesia Spolsky, Managing Director of BCU Foundation and organizer of the weekend’s events.  “I think it’s safe to say that the guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves and left with unforgettable memories of Canada’s biggest birthday party in 50 years.”

 

 

Kalyna Kardash

Ottawa, Canada

 

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