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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE KUCS
Chester and Luba Kuc were born in Edmonton, and their parents were active in the Ukrainian National Federation (UNO), participating in cultural activities such as choir and drama. Because of their parents’ involvement in the Ukrainian community, Chester and Luba attended Ukrainian school where they were encouraged them to participate in cultural activities, children’s choir, orchestra, plays, skits and folk dancing.
Chester and Luba were both students of Vasyl Avramenko - the father of Ukrainian folk dancing in North America. However, little did Chester or his parents suspect that sending him for dancing classes at age seven would lead to teaching and the forming of two vibrant dance groups - Shumka and Cheremosh.
Because of their upbringing, it did not make a difference whether it was UNO, Ukrainian Catholic or Ukrainian Orthodox organizations asking them to participate - they were always ready to do their best. They believed then, as they do now, that the Ukrainian communities should work in harmony with each other.
In 1959, Chester decided to approach the best dancers from Edmonton to form a dance ensemble featuring the best talent in the Ukrainian dance field. The group’s first concert at the Jubilee Auditorium was a huge success and the first concert performed by a Ukrainian group in this facility. This unique ensemble was called Shumka. During Chester’s directorship of Shumka, the best Ukrainian talent was featured, such as volcalists Ed Evanko from New York and Volodymyr Luciw from England. Luba was featured as guest violinist at one of the concerts and was also the costume adviser.
Chester taught dancing in schools throughout Edmonton - at UNO, where he had the largest dance school in Edmonton with 350 dancers; St. John’s Cathedral; St. Elia’s Parish; Holy Eucharist Parish; St. Basil’s Parish; the Ukrainian Catholic National Hall and Smoky Lake. Luba was the costume advisor for all of these dance schools - she was very influential in setting the standard at a higher level for costumes.
In 1969, Chester was approached by the Ukrainian National Youth Federation (MUNO) to organize a dance ensemble known as Cheremosh. Cheremosh incorporated Ukrainian regional dances into their repertoire, presenting unique choreography, music and colorful new costumes. Luba was responsible for these costumes which required extensive research to ensure authenticity. At their own expense, Chester and Luba made trips to museums in Ukraine for research - Luba has an exceptional collection of photographs of costumes, embroidery designs and Pysanky resulting from these trips.
Chester taught thousands of students over his 35-year career. He was Cultural Director of the Ukrainian National Federation and acted as their president for several years. In addition to their large Pysanky collection, Chester and Luba have hundreds of Ukrainian folk art items, including shirts, carved wood articles, burnt wood artifacts, ceramics, embroideries and paintings.
Artifacts from their collection have been featured in displays at Heritage Days, the Ukrainian Museum of Canada (Edmonton and Saskatoon Branches), the Ukrainian National Federation Hall, the Muttart Conservatory, the Centennial Ukrainian Celebrations display at the Agricom and the Shevchenko Museum in Kiev, Ukraine in 1992.
The Kucs were blessed with two lovely daughters, Larysa and Daria, who began dancing at the ages of five and three and danced their way to Cheremosh.
This short history has been copied from a catalogue created by the Royal Alberta Museum for an exhibit of Chester's pysanky in 2006.
- born 1931
Lubomyr T. Romankiw was born in Zhovkva, Ukraine on April 17, 1931. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and his master's and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Romankiw joined IBM in 1962, where he remains today as an IBM Fellow and Researcher at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center.
He is recognized for his research with magnetic materials, reflective displays and copper plating. Romankiw is listed as the inventor or co-inventor on over 65 US patents, including magnetic thin-film storage heads (co-invented with David Thompson in the 1970s). He has also authored over 150 articles and edited numerous volumes of technical symposia.
Several organizations have recognized and awarded Romankiw's work such as the Electrochemical Society, Society of Chemical Industry, and the IEEE. In 1994 he received the IEEE Morris N. Liebmann Memorial Award, and in 2012, he was an inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
The Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) is a leading centre of Ukrainian studies outside Ukraine. It is an integral part of the University of Alberta under the jurisdiction of the Vice-President (Research). Founded in 1976, following joint efforts by Ukrainian community leaders and academics, to provide an institutional home for Ukrainian scholarship in Canada, CIUS is dedicated to the development of Ukrainian studies in Canada and supports such studies internationally. In addition to its main office at the University of Alberta, CIUS maintains a branch office at the University of Toronto.
CIUS fulfills its mandate by organizing research and scholarship in Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian studies: it publishes books and a scholarly journal; develops materials for Ukrainian-language education, mainly for western Canada's bilingual school program; organizes conferences, lectures, and a seminar series; and awards graduate and undergraduate scholarships, as well as research grants to scholars. CIUS also contributes to the cultural and educational development of community groups in Canada by providing specialists and resources for their activities. It fosters international links of mutual benefit to Canada and the world, especially with Ukraine, by initiating and managing major international endeavours, including Canada-Ukraine legislative and intergovernmental projects.
CIUS is financed in part from the operating budget of the University of Alberta. Other support comes from grants for specific projects and income earned from endowment funds.
To find out more about the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, please visit its website: https://uofa.ualberta.ca/arts/research/canadian-institute-ukrainian-studies
- born 1960
Brian Cherwick (B. Mus. – Brandon; M.A. – Alberta; PhD. - Alberta) is a specialist in east European traditional music, diaspora cultures, ethnic identity, music industry, material culture and oral history. He was born in Winnipeg into a family that had settled in Canada a couple of generations earlier. Three of his four grandparents were born in the western Ukrainian province of Galicia, from two villages, Chornokonetska Volya and Burdiakivtsi, near the city of Ternopil. Brian’s father’s family were early settlers from the first wave, immigrating to Saskatchewan in 1903, while his mother’s family came to Manitoba during the interwar immigration in the 1920s.
Brian had music on both sides of his family. His father’s father, John Cherewyk, left the farm to become a harness maker and later a meat cutter in the town of Yorkton, Saskatchewan. But on the side, John played fiddle in a trio with his two brothers — one playing tsymbaly and the other adding a second violin. John was additionally trained as a cantor in the Ukrainian Catholic church. Brian learned the cantorial art from his grandfather (as well as other cantors) during church services each Sunday and would come back with him and hear him fiddling at home. Brian holds a position today as a cantor in his church and is active in teaching liturgical singing to fellow congregants. On his mother's side, Brian's great-grandfather was a fiddler and his grandmother even played the small bubon in the band until she was old enough to marry (it was not respectable then for mature women to play music). Brian's uncle Mike Klym played drum kit with the D-Drifters, one of the most famous Western Canadian Ukrainian bands. The D-Drifters were especially known for providing backup to Mickey and Bunny, a famous singing married couple, and for recording country western music with English and Ukrainian lyrics. Their biggest hit was a Ukrainian translation of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," and the disc sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Uncle Mike was only fifteen years older than Brian, and so Brian grew up going to practices of the D-Drifters.
Brian formed his first band with friends at age 14, and began playing violin at weddings at age 15. Instrumentation has changed with the tastes of the community, and modern bands often feature accordions, keyboards, saxes, electric guitars, basses and drum kits (such adaptation is not a new phenomena — grandfather John Cherewyk also performed on the Hawaiian-style lap steel guitar which was a rage in the 20s and 30s). At age 16, Brian acquired a tsymbaly from his brother who had gotten it from a church group. As a young musician with an entrepreneurial flair, Brian saw tsymbaly as a way to differentiate his band and their advertisements would promote the fact that they played the old tunes on traditional instruments as well as in more modern arrangements. Brian learned tsymbaly from watching the old-timers play at weddings (with over 100 first-cousins, there were plenty of family celebrations throughout the year). He also listened to regional Canadian-Ukrainian commercial recordings featuring tsymbaly-- bands such as those of the Alberta fiddlers Metro Radomsky, Bill Boychuk, and Manitoba fiddlers Jim Gregorash, Tommy Buick and Peter Lamb, as well as the Interlake Polka Kings.
Brian entered Brandon University (about 100 km west of Winnipeg) to study in its well regarded music program. Though tsymbaly was not offered, he enrolled as a pianist and percussionist. After graduating, Brian spent four years teaching music and conducting choirs at a seminary in Roblin, Manitoba, a tenure that was interrupted mid-way by an opportunity to study music for a year in Ukraine. Brian had received an invitation from the Society for Relations with Ukrainians Abroad. Based at the Kyiv Conservatory, Brian took classes in cimbalom, the piano-sized concert version of the tsymbaly that had developed in Hungary at the end of the 19th century and was taught in conservatories in Hungary, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Moldova. Adapting from tsymbaly to cimbalom requires learning a completely different tuning system, sticking technique and use of the cimbalom’s damper pedal, which is similar to that of a piano. Though his assigned teacher was Gyorgi Ahratina, who played cimbalom with the national folk orchestra, Brian learned more from Vasyl Palaniuk, an ethnic Hutsul from the Carpathians who was the senior cimbalom student at the conservatory and is today recognized as one of Ukraine's leading players. While Palaniuk played cimbalom in the conservatory ensemble, Brian would play percussion alongside of him as they accompanied highly choreographed folkloric dance presentations.
From Roblin, Brian moved to Edmonton to enroll in the University of Alberta's graduate programs in Ukrainian folklore and ethnomusicology. His doctoral dissertation focused on the influences of social conditions and popular music on the development of Ukrainian traditional music in western Canada. He is currently researching the ethnic commercial recording industry in Canada. Dr. Cherwick is Adjunct Professor of Folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland, has taught at the University of Alberta and Athabasca University. He has worked as a researcher for the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in Alberta and for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. He is also active as a performer, composer and music educator and has appeared in performances and conducted seminars and workshops throughout North America and Europe.
Doris E. Yanda, community leader and author, was born on March 16,1905 in Gimli, Manitoba to Anthony and Anna Konashevich, Ukrainian pioneers who arrived in Canada in 1900. The family moved to southwestern Saskatchewan and Doris completed her secondary education in Saskatoon where she attended the P.Mohyla Institute. Throughout her life and career, she continued her education at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta.
She began to write at an early age and wrote poems, articles and stories under the names of Dorothy Yanda, Elizabeth Young and Daria Mohylianka. She was editor of the Women’s Page in the newspapers, Ukrainian Voice and Ukrainian Farmer. She was also on the editorial committee of the Ukrainian Voice.
In 1923, she was one of the organizers of the Ukrainian Ladies Society of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and she held various executive positions including vice-president and president. n June, 1926 she married DmytroYanda, a lawyer. In 1926 she was one of the founders of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada (UWAC) and held various executive positions at the local, provincial and national levels for many years. In 1933 and 1934 she was National Vice-President and Provincial President of Alberta and in 1935 and 1936, she was National President of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada. She convened the Ukrainian National Handicraft Exhibit in 1935. In 1952, Mrs. Yanda was honoured with an honorary life membership in the UWAC. She was also active in the National Council of Women and the Women’s Council of Canada.
She was a member of the Canadian Authors’ Association since 1934. She has published numerous articles including books of poetry, in Ukrainian and in English. She has published twelve books on various literary subjects under several pen names.
During the Second World War, she was very active in voluntary war work in Edmonton. She was involved in numerous organizations such as Red Cross, War Savings Stamps, Regional Advisory Committee of the Wartime Price Control Board and others.
In 1948 she was involved with the British Columbia Flood Relief Fund and she also wrote on this disaster for the popular press.
She was also active in the Local Council of Women in Edmonton. Through her work she facilitated the immigration of many Ukrainian Displaced Persons and Refugees to Canada. In 1949 she visited over twenty Displaced Persons Camps in Germany with her husband for three months and they made speaking tours on their return to Canada. She was also involved in voluntary work to assist the newly arrived Ukrainian Displaced Persons.
She was widowed in 1969 and then married John McMullan. She is recognized as a master weaver and taught weaving in Edmonton and organized courses at the Banff Centre - School of Fine Arts from 1976 to 1987.
During her life, she received many awards and distinctions from various national organizations and from the Ukrainian community including the Taras Shevchenko Medal.
Theodore Nemirsky, 1869-1946, was born in the Ukraine and came to Canada in 1896. He settled in the Wostok area of Alberta. In 1986 he married Katherine Mariancz and they had six children. The next year he was appointed postmaster and also served as guide to help settlers locate their land. He helped establish the Wostok school and acted as interpreter for many local citizens.