Discover the loves and lives of those who came before us. There are those who had to leave their loved ones in the Old Country so they could build a new life in Canada, desperate to raise the much needed money to reunite with their families one day. Or the eligible bachelors from Canadian Ukrainian communities who sent notes to potential sweethearts back home. These women often penned hopeful replies, sharing their dreams of immigrating to Canada. All of these people were searching for happiness, however not all would find it.
Their trials and tribulations are gathered together in ‘Love Letters from the Past’. This remarkable exhibit also features the story of the first Ukrainian postmaster, the first Ukrainian post office in Alberta and the role Canada Post played in sparking the romances that helped shape the Canadian Ukrainian identity. You will learn that while love, courtship and family are essential parts of every culture, each love story is truly unique.
Was one of the names in those letters a distant ancestor? You can find out by learning all about your own Ukrainian genealogy in an enlightening talk hosted by the Ukrainian Genealogy Group (July 21 / 2:45 pm). You can find them in the church basement, ready to get you started on researching your Ukrainian family roots with some fantastic (and fascinating) tips and tricks.
If you’ve always wanted to discover the techniques behind making the quintessential Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky), there are numerous demonstrations available to teach you everything you need to know to get painting. First, at 2:15pm on July 22, learn how to make natural dyes with Mary’ana Svarnyk of The Cosmic Egg Blog. She’s been doing this traditional craft since she was a child, even when she was growing up in the Soviet Union where decorating pysanky was not particularly encouraged. She’ll speak about the origins of these dyes, as well as their methods of preparation.
Now that you’ve learned how to make your pysanky colourful, what about those other markings you’ve seen on them? How can you write on them, and how do you read them?
At 5:15 on July 22, you can unlock the hidden message of the pysanky with Oksana Yarosh. You’ll learn that each symbol on these intricately decorated eggs has a meaning, and they share messages promoting a good life, along with well wishes for the future.
You can now put into practice what you’ve learned with a pysanky workshop put on by Folk Camp Canada. The cost is just $20, and you get to walk away with a piece of your own Ukrainian traditional art. The beginner’s class on Saturday afternoon will provide you with an initial outline of the craft (Minimum age 8+.) . However, if you feel you are a pysanky expert, Saturday night’s workshop will provide more in-depth background, demonstrations, and some hands-on opportunities for trying out different methods of decorating, emptying, and displaying your pysanky. (Minimum age 12+)
Of course, there’s also embroidery to learn about. Have you ever wondered how to wash your new vyshyvanka, or the sorochka you inherited from baba? Chrystia Habrowych’s ‘TLC For Your Embroideries’ lecture (July 21 / 5:15 pm) will give you some answers. The beginner’s workshop on Saturday afternoon will also showcase the unique elements of Ukrainian embroidery. It really is a result of the specific combinations of materials, designs, techniques and colours that vary from region to region. Learn one of the older but lesser known techniques - zavolikannia - and take home your own original brooch.
Other workshops over the course of the festival will include Wet Felting (July 22 / 12pm), an ancient technique of interlocking and compacting wool fibres using only warm water, soap and a bit of elbow grease. It’s a family friendly lesson, and instructor Nataliya Chabanyuk will have you transforming woollen balls into necklaces, bracelets, pendants, bag or key chain charms in no time. (Cost is $10). Experience more simple yarn crafts at the Pom Poms and Tassles Workshop, run by Folk Camp Canada (July 22 / 3pm). This craft is fun to do in pairs, and yes, the kids are welcome to make their own creative accessories!