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Return of Ukrainian festival in Dauphin is a chance to celebrate culture and become 'part of something bigger'

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival triumphantly returns to the stage at the Dauphin this weekend.

Cory Lafontaine, a board member of the festival, said the plans for this year’s event in the western Manitoba city were unique. Not only that, but it’s the first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“We want you to appreciate Ukrainian culture and all that it has to offer,” Lafontaine said. I am trying to

Started in 1965, the festival offers visitors to the Dauphin, a city of approximately 8,400 people, including many of Ukrainian descent, an immersive experience of Ukrainian culture.

Lafontaine said walking through the gates of the festival feels “magical” and allows visitors to return to their Ukrainian roots. Food, music and dance are at the core of Ukrainian culture and help people feel part of a larger community, he said.

“The atmosphere this year is great.”

Acceptance of Ukrainian Refugees

LaFontaine said he could not speak personally about the war in Ukraine, but said he had connections with the refugees who moved to the Parkland area of ​​southwestern Manitoba.

“Here at our festival, we welcomed them with open arms. Some are actually volunteering with us, and some are planning to come.

The organizers wanted to honor the ongoing war effort in Ukraine, so they were thoughtful in planning the festivities.The goal was to bring people together and help family and friends connect directly.

Ukrainian newcomers from Brandon, Winnipeg and Saskatchewan joined the celebration, Lafontaine said.

Edmonton-based Veselka Ukrainian Dance Association will have a grandstand show at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin on Saturday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

Carol Liplinger, president of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kandiak, Sask, traveled four hours to attend the festival.

She traveled with a group of over 30 people. Their campsites are decorated with flags, ribbons and giant flower crowns to celebrate Ukraine.

“This is a fellowship. It’s a part of something bigger than what’s out there, ‘to stand up to Ukraine,'” Liplinger said. “That’s important.”

This is her second time at the festival, but it feels different because of the war in Ukraine.

She said it was sad to see what was going on in a besieged country, but inspired by the resilience of newcomers displaced by the Russian invasion.

“When we lose our culture—the culture of food, the culture of folk dance—we lose it in all nationalities,” Liplinger said.

She cherished the opportunity to celebrate unabashedly and immerse herself in Ukrainian culture, a rare opportunity outside her church.

Ripplinger said the festival “has something for everyone”. “If you haven’t experienced it, come see it. People are friendly and you don’t have to be Ukrainian to come and enjoy it.”

The festival started on Friday and continues until Sunday.

“Great atmosphere”

Third-generation Canadian-Ukrainian Kathryn Kuzyk danced at the grandstand show with the Winnipeg-based Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.

She performed on the festival’s main stage for the first time on Friday after attending the show for 25 years.

“It’s a great environment with people who feel very strongly about bringing all Ukrainian music, Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian traditions to Canada and keeping it alive,” said Kuzyk. environment.”

The Winnipeg-based Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble will perform at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival on Saturday. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

She said that dancing at a show, feeling the energy from the audience and feeling a bond with others through the pride of Ukrainian culture is a powerful emotional experience.

Each Ukrainian dance has a meaning, she said, and these experiences were reinforced by the war in Ukraine.

As Kuzyk dances, she thinks about keeping Ukrainian culture alive in Canada. It feels different now, she said, because there is an urge to show that Ukrainian culture flourished during the Russian invasion.

Its teachings and history span generations and are of great significance to people around the world, Kuzik said.

“We know what is at stake … we take things like that for granted. It makes a lot of sense to try to keep it alive.”

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