Past and Present: Ukrainian Nationalism, Subject of the 2016 Mohyla Lecture

Professor Myroslav Shkandrij of the University of Manitoba delivered the 19th annual Mohyla Lecture – Ukrainian Nationalism, 1929-1956: Academic Judgements and Popular Perceptions, a presentation loosely based on his 2015 book Ukrainian Nationalism: Politics, Ideology and Literature published by Yale University Press.


Prof. Shkandrij opened his talk by noting that the subject of Ukrainian nationalism is much discussed in the context of the recent conflict in Ukraine. References are made to radical nationalist forces operating in Ukraine that are said to have drawn inspiration and ideological sustenance from the experience and ideas associated with Ukrainian nationalist ideology of the interwar period. Outlining the complex debates between national democrats, radical ideologues and proponents of fascism during the interwar years, Prof. Shkandrij pointed to the current trend toward over-simplification, which glosses over important distinctions that existed at the time between the various tenets of nationalist thought. He argues that greater scholarly inquiry is needed to highlight the layered and textured nature of the Ukrainian nationalist experience of the interwar period in order to dispel the romanticization and demonization, which has accompanied the discourse on present-day nationalism in Ukraine.


The Mohyla Lecture was delivered February 11, 2016 in the Great Hall of the Shannon Library. The event and reception was co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Saskatchewan Provincial Council.

PCUH Co-Sponsors Community-University Roundtable on Documenting the Prairie Churches of the Eastern Rite

At STM on February 4, a roundtable – Documenting the Prairie Churches of the Eastern Rite: Where Are We Now and What Is Next? – was held to discuss the state and fate of rural churches of the Eastern Rite on the Canadian prairies. Presentations were made by a team from the University of Alberta, Professors Natalie Kononenko and Frances Swyripa and researcher Eva Himka, who talked about their findings from a multi-year research initiative – ‘Sanctuary: The Spiritual Documentation Project.’


The ‘Sanctuary Project’ is conducting fieldwork across the Canadian prairies, documenting, through photography and other methods, Byzantine rite churches of Ukrainian origin. This work comes at a crucial time. Ukrainian religious faith and sacral culture is manifested in hundreds of distinctive, onion-domed buildings across the prairie landscape. This is the most significant post-Byzantine cultural expression anywhere in the New World. Yet it is under threat as demographic changes lead to the closing and destruction of churches. The research team has been recording structures and artefacts that hold tremendous emotional importance to various rural communities as well as documenting the sacred rituals that bring life to these buildings. The goal is to produce a digital database of unprecedented size and detail that will allow scholars and the wider community to better understand this rich tradition in Canada.


The PCUH has been instrumental in funding the research work being undertaken in the province of Saskatchewan, which will continue for the next two years.

Documenting both tangible and intangible cultural heritage the team hopes to make the data as useful as possible to all. To this end, the roundtable sought to bring together the Sanctuary research team, church representatives, museum workers and interested community members to discuss the findings and how the research will be made available. An important of the exchange is to learn from Saskatchewan professionals so that the formatting and presentation of the project data can be made more relevant and useful to potential users.


Organized by PCUH Associate Prof. Natalia Khanenko-Friesen, the roundtable was sponsored by the PCUH in cooperation with STM’s Department of Religious Studies and Culture, the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, Musée Ukraina Museum, and other community partners.