In 2014 Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then Russian authorities have illegally imprisoned at least 70 Ukrainians. Russia has ignored all demands from the international community to negotiate the freedom of these prisoners. Accordingly, the national Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) has initiated a campaign “Postcards for Political Prisoners” whereby postcards are sent to political prisoners in Russia as an act of solidarity.
As part of the campaign, the USUSA is leading this initiative on the University of Saskatchewan campus, visiting classrooms and spreading awareness of these and other human rights violations at various student and PCUH events. The campaign continues throughout the months of February, March, and early April.
Ukrainian Studies Research Showcase is a unique academic opportunity for
students enrolled in undergraduate Ukrainian Studies courses or undertaking
graduate study to share with their peers and the community at large their research
work. Organized by the University of Saskatchewan Ukrainian Students’
Association (USUSA) in association with the PCUH, this year’s showcase was held
on the evening of February 5, 2019.
Three undergraduate students delivered presentations: Tiana Kirstein, Matthew Selinger and Adrian Aquino. Ms. Kirstein, whose interest is in early modern European history, presented her findings on Cossack imagery during the Euromaidan and its importance in propagating the idea of national resistance.
Matthew Selinger delivered remarks on the historical tension that exists around the issue of Ukrainian nationalism and anti-semitism, which is being exploited by Russia in its conflict with Ukraine. He argued that by addressing the record of Ukraine’s turbulent past Ukrainian democracy and its modern nationalist ethic would be strengthened in its conflict with Russia.
Finally, Mr. Aquino examined the factors that have led to the recent Ukraine crisis, arguing Russia’s distorted perception of its national identity (linked as it is to an imperial past) and Vladimir Putin’s’ desire to restore Russia as a global superpower have placed it on a collision course with both Ukraine and the West. He further explored the issue of international sanctions and how Russian aggression will penultimately fail in an increasingly globalized political environment.
The evening ended with a reception organized by the USUSA, allowing the conversation to continue in an informal setting.
The Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage has had a long history of involvement in commemorating and publicizing the experience of incarceration of enemy aliens as prisoners of war at the site of Saskatchewan’s only place of WWI internment — Eaton. A proposal to enhance the site — now home to the Saskatchewan Railway Museum — with a permanent interpretive exhibit on Canada’s First National Internment Operations has coalesced with several community partners. The exhibit will complement an existing on-site memorial, installed by the PCUH in 2005.
The exhibit’s content will commemorate those unjustly affected by Canada’s First National Internment Operations of 1914–1920 and will serve as a knowledge gateway for the people of Saskatchewan to learn more about the enemy alien experience, and to reflect more broadly upon the importance of civil and human rights in Canada.
This project’s partners — the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, the Saskatchewan Railroad Historical Association, and the Saskatchewan German Council — have all agreed to work together to guide the exhibit vision and content. An exhibit opening date is anticipated for late2019, marking the centenary year of the Eaton Internment Camp itself.
Mr. Adrian Aquino was presented with this year’s PCUH Essay Prize in Ukrainian Studies. The prize was awarded for his essay titled “Taming the Bear: Assessing the Geopolitics of the Russian Intervention in Ukraine” submitted for the course POLS 373 Understanding the Conflict in Ukraine. The paper analyzes the origins of present-day Russian aggression in Ukraine, taking note of the Soviet legacy on contemporary Russian foreign policy. It also examines the strategic merits and costs associated with Russia’s opposition to international norms.
The prize is presented annually to a student who demonstrates a deep understanding of the subject matter and has presented the material effectively and clearly.
Mr. Aquino will complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan and looks forward to furthering his studies in international relations at the graduate level either at the University of Saskatchewan or elsewhere in Canada.
USUSA members in the Arts Tunnel – “Holodomor-in-a-Box” interactive learning experience – November 22, 2018
Members of the University of Saskatchewan Ukrainian Students Association marked Holomodor Awareness Week with several activities on campus.
On Sunday, November 18 they held a Wheat Sheaf Making and Distributing event in the STM Student Lounge. Wednesday, November 21 saw USUSA members creating awareness in the Arts Tunnel with their “Holodomor-in-a-Box” interactive learning experience. A vigil commemorating Holomodor victims was planned for Thursday, November 22 in the STM Chapel.
Each event was designed to bring awareness to the Holodomor, a genocide of the Ukrainian people that occurred between 1932-1933 and engineered by the leadership of the Soviet Union. Millions of individuals in the Ukrainian countryside died of starvation as an instrument of terror and repression. The policy of starving the countryside was aimed at destroying the peasantry as the foundation of the Ukrainian nation; hence, the genocidal nature of the policy. For generations to follow, Soviet authorities imposed a blanket of secrecy on the event, keeping it hidden while disseminating disinformation about the cause and extent of the Holodomor.
USUSA executive member Sam Campling wrote a press article, describing the historical event and its significance in the context of Ukraine’s struggle for national self-determination. The article was posted on the St. Thomas More College website as part of the campaign to promote awareness on this dark page in Ukraine’s past and world history.
The PCUH was proud to co-host with the STM Dean’s Office the annual reception for Ukrainian Studies on Tuesday, October 9th. Current students enrolled in the program and others were in attendance this year along with STM faculty.
The master of ceremonies was Dr. Nadia Foty-Oneschuk who welcomed the students to STM’s Chelsea Lounge where the reception was held. Speaking briefly about the college and the Ukrainian program at the college, Dr. Foty-Oneschuk invited other faulty and staff to speak directly to recent efforts by the college and PCUH to enhance Ukrainian programming at the UofS. Prof. Kordan, PCUH Director, spoke about the role of the centre on campus, highlighting the centre’s financial support for course instruction, students, and their activities. He encouraged the students to avail themselves off all that the college offers as a way to discover Ukrainian culture and identity and to make friendships with each other. He reminded them that these were the best years of their life and that what they did now will remain with them forever. Mr. Mykola Dolgy of the Ukrainian Students’ Union spoke next, inviting the uninitiated in the crowd to join the student group as a way to know more about Ukrainian student-based activities on campus. He mentioned in passing that the UofS group was the largest of its kind in Canada and a testament to the interest of the students and the strength of institutional support. The Dean of St Thomas More College, Dr. Arul Kumaran, spoke of the college as the natural home of Ukrainian Studies on the UofS campus, underscoring how the program has provided students with a unique opportunity to explore their Ukrainian heritage. He encouraged them to enroll in the courses and to consider the Spring Session in Ukraine (SSU) as a way to round out their undergraduate experience. It was message reiterated by Mr. Cooper Muirhead, who not only provided further information on the SSU but also invited several past participants in the program to share their thoughts and impressions about the study abroad in Ukraine experience.
Dr. Foty-Oneschuk followed with a brief synopsis of the Ukrainian Studies Minor on campus and encouraged students to consider the Minor program as a course of study.
The students and faculty were finally able to mingle and share information over a bowl of punch and dainties. It was a fitting end to an informal meet and greet session, which the students unanimously agreed found to be informative and useful.
The PCUH was proud to sponsor a Ukrainian language curriculum workshop August 23, 2018.
Organized by Nadia Prokopchuk, the workshop was hosted by the College of Education at the U of S.
PCUH Affiliates Dr. Nadya Foty-Oneschuk and Nadia Prokopchuk learned about Ukrainian language program-changes being proposed and introduced elsewhere across the country, and how these may be introduced in beginner-level language courses (UKR 114 and 117) at STM College.
The new course program, entitled “Podorozhi.ua: Ukrainian for Beginners. Blended learning model,” is a new approach to language-learning and a pioneering effort in the study of the Ukrainian language, combining face-to-face lecture time in the classroom with online components. Authors Dr. Alla Nedashkivska and PhD candidate Olena Sivachenko, who led the workshop, have successfully piloted this program at the University of Alberta, resulting in students becoming quickly conversationally competent. Dr. Foty-Oneschuk, who is responsible for Ukrainian language delivery at the University of Saskatchewan, is excited to collaborate with these colleagues in implementing the program changes at STM.
“Determination, Devotion, Diplomacy: Women Building Peace in Ukraine” is a special lecture presented by Dr. Maureen Flaherty, Mauro Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Manitoba. The presentation is sponsored by the Peace Studies Initiative and the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage at St Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan.
Ukrainian Day in the Park: (l-r at the table) Matthew Selinger, Oksana Dubasov, Iryna Kozina
Following last year’s information campaign, PCUH, Spring Session in Ukraine (SSU), and Ukrainian Studies Minor program, were again represented at two major Saskatoon community cultural events – Folk Fest (August 16-18) and Ukrainian Day in the Park (August 25). Both events were well-attended by the local community. Interested community members were eager to learn more about the Ukrainian Studies projects and initiatives at St. Thomas More College and expressed satisfaction that so much was being done at the university. The promotion campaign was faciliated by Iryna Kozina, SSU and PCUH Administrative Assistant, helped by Oksana Dubasov and Matthew Selinger, SSU 2018 participants.
Eaton Memorial Garden, Saskatchewan Railway Museum
The Saskatchewan Railway Museum (SRM) is the site of WWI internment in Canada. On May 25, 2018, a dedication of the Eaton Memorial Garden on the grounds of the SRM took place.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress in co-operation with the SRM and in partnership with the German Canadian Council and the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage initiated a project to create a memorial garden at the site. A place of remembrance and reflection, the garden is part of an ongoing initiative to reclaim the historical memory of internment, a time when 8,579 ‘enemy aliens’ were arrested and interned in camps across Canada such as at Eaton. In 2005, the PCUH erected a monument on this site. The garden is an extension of that project. The centre will continue to work with the museum and other partners in creating an interactive museum educational display that will provide further information on the experience and be used as a teaching tool for students and others.
For more information on the plaque unveiling ceremony, see http://thestarphoenix.com/news/local-news/memorial-garden-to-offer-education-on-eaton-internment-camp