PCUH hosts Ukrainian Studies reception

On October 24th, St. Thomas More College’s Chelsea Commons was host to new and returning University of Saskatchewan students pursuing Ukrainian Studies.

The event provided a chance for students and community members to meet with one another, and for the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage (PCUH) and St. Thomas More College to extend official welcoming greetings.

Information was shared about STM’s Ukrainian Studies minor, the Spring Session in Ukraine (SSU), the University of Saskatchewan Ukrainian Students’ Association (USUSA), and the ongoing work and projects of PCUH.

PCUH announces appointment of new director

The Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Natalia Khanenko-Friesen as its next director.

Dr. Khanenko-Friesen is a professor of anthropology, a cultural ethnographer, and an oral historian with expertise in post-socialist transition, diaspora studies, migration, and community engagement. Her research agenda focuses on Ukrainian Canadian culture, Ukraine, and its new post-socialist diasporas.

Natalia recently returned from her sabbatical year, most of which she spent abroad, including a term at Harvard University. She continued working on her two current projects, oral history of decollectivization in Ukraine and transatlantic letter exchanges between Ukrainians in the diaspora and homeland. Natalia has been a long-term member of PCUH, served as its director previously, and managed the Centre’s research program, “Personal Sources Archives.” 

A founding editor of Canada’s internationally-recognized Engaged Scholar Journal, with the mission to promote community-university collaborative scholarship, she also continues to oversee the Journal’s operations. She says that these two areas — community-engaged scholarship and Ukrainian Studies in Canada — overlap meaningfully and continue to inform her work. 

New book on Canada-Ukraine Relations

McGill-Queen’s University Press, Canada’s foremost academic publisher, recently released a new book by Prof. Bohdan Kordan, Director of the PCUH. The book titled Strategic Friends: Canada-Ukraine Relations from Independence to the Euromaidan examines the continuity and change in Canada’s foreign policy toward Ukraine from the late Soviet period to the Revolution of Dignity. A comparative-historical study that draws on government documents, newspaper accounts and archival sources, the work details and analyzes the Canada-Ukraine relationship across the Mulroney, Chretien, Martin and Harper governments. Of particular interest is the Ukrainian-Canadian community’s role in strengthening the relationship.
The book is part of the PCUH’s Canada-Ukraine Relations Initiative, an ongoing project looking to document the evolving nature of the relationship. Strategic Friends can be purchased online or ordered through your local bookstore.

Spring Session in Ukraine 2018

The 2018 Spring Session in Ukraine (SSU) was held May 6-June 7. This full-immersion program enables students earn up to nine UofS credit units in a five-week period by taking language and anthropology courses. Students stay with the host families, which accelerates their learning of Ukrainian language and culture.
Prof. Natalia Khanenko-Friesen traveled with students to Ukraine to deliver the course ANTH 233 “Anthropological Perspectives on Contemporary Ukraine”, which broadly considers society and culture in contemporary Ukraine. Dr. Olena Huzar, on-site SSU Director, coordinated the program in Ternopil. The course curriculum included fieldtrips to Lviv, the cultural capital of Western Ukraine, as well as Kamianets-Podilskyi fortress, which was a vital defensive bulwark in western Ukraine for centuries. Students spent the last weekend of program in the picturesque Carpathian Mountains. Five students participated in the program – Oksana Dubasov, Matthew Selinger, Jamie LaFleur, Kaitlyn Bletsky, and Tiana Kirstein.

SSU 2018 participants with Dr. Khanenko-Friesen – Ternopil

Ukrainian Culture on Campus

As part of the University of Saskatchewan’s Culture Week, the USUSA participated, March 14, in the university’s Global Village bazar by setting up a display and providing Ukrainian culinary fare.

It then hosted pysanka (Easter egg) and vinok (flower crown) workshops on March 19 and March 21. Held in the student lounge of St. Thomas More College, the goal was to share the art and craft of pysanka- and vinok-making.

Vinok Workshop

The student-led Pysanka workshop – attended by thirty students, staff and community members – is an annual event organized by the USUSA. The Vinok workshop was the second such undertaking at the college. Sixteen participants learned about the meaning of the vinok and the symbolism of the flowers incorporated in the making of a head wreath.

Proceeds from workshop ticket sales were directed to the non-profit ‘Stream of Hopes’ (Потічок Надій) – an organization that looks to assist needy and disabled children in Ukraine.


2019 Mohyla Lecture

The 22nd annual Mohyla Lecture to be delivered by Dr. Dominque Arel was cancelled because of a medical emergency. The PCUH will look to invite Professor Arel in 2020 and learn about the conflict in Donbas, the subject of the scheduled lecture.

USUSA Participates in ‘Postcards for Political Prisoners’ Campaign

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.


The annual 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.

Tiana Kirstein

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

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.

Adrian Aquino

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.

PCUH and Eaton Internment Exhibit Project

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.

PCUH Essay Prize Awarded

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.