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Nick was born in the village of Shepenets in Bukovyna, on February 5, 1907 where he learned to play the dulcimer (cymbaly) at the age of 8. His uncle, a professional bandmaster, taught Nick the fundamentals of the instrument and he joined his uncle playing weddings and parties around the countryside. By the age of 12 years Nick Mischi was considered a professional by many musicians in Ukraine. In 1928 Nick left his homeland and immigrated to Canada. Having left his dulcimer with his uncle, Nick purchased another in Winnipeg in 1930. Nick Mischi played with a variety of orchestras in and around Winnipeg before moving west to Edmonton in the 1930's. His early career was limited because he moved across western Canada. Each place he lived, Nick picked up his dulcimer and joined a local band. Over the 77 years of his playing career, 63 he contributed in Edmonton and Central Alberta. Some of the musicians Nick played with in and around Edmonton are: Bill Boychuk (Easy Aces), Joe Trachyk (The Marango's), Peter Kassian (Sons of the Ukrainian Pioneers), Ron Lakustra's Orchestra.
As early as the 1930's Nick played on a variety of radio stations. In the 1950's Nick Mischi entertained radio audiences in the Edmonton area on radio shows, which were started by Henry Smichure on C.F.R.N. and C.H.F.A. radios. These programs were live at sponsors premises as well as live shows at the radio studios. When C.F.C.W. radio started their "Ukrainian Hour" program some 33 years ago, Nick was asked to preform many times.
Judging dulcimer competitions for many years, in places like Lakeview Pavilion, Red Barn, Vegreville Pysanka Festival and Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, in which he competed as well, Nick won many first place trophies and earned a reputation as one of Alberta's finest dulcimer (cymbaly) players.
Throughout the years during his playing career Nick cut many records with different orchestra's. His favourite was "Dulcimer in Concert" which was recorded with a nine piece Chamber Orchestra from the University of Alberta. Some of these records were sold across Canada.
Nick Mischi retired from playing with orchestras in 1986 but was still active teaching young people, some from as far away as Calgary, Alberta, to play the dulcimer and to carry on the tradition of ethnic Ukrainian music in Western Canada.
On August 30, 1992 Nick Mischi was one of many competitors at the Ukrainian Music festival held at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. First place performance in the master category by the 85 year young Nick Mischi on his dulcimer (cymbaly), an overwhelmed audience of over 400 people gave Nick a standing ovation. The Festival was hosted by Johnny Bohonos of C.F.C.W.'s radio "Ukrainian Hour".
In 1993 Nick Mischi appeared as one of the guest artists in two concerts at the Annual Vegreville Pysanka Festival 1993, and was applauded loudly by the audience. The same year Nick also took part at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village during Ukrainian Day, entertaining audiences.
Nick Mischi was a talented dulcimer musician. He played by ear, keeping alive the unwritten music for dulcimer. Nick passed away in 2006.
"Stephania Paush, born in the village of Toporiwtsi, Bukovyna, came to Canada in 1913 with her parents, Simeon and Claudia Popowich and younger brother Joseph. The family settles on a farm near Smoky Lake, where two more children were born- Emily and Victor.
From their earliest years, the Popowich children were immersed in Ukrainian culture, especially literature. Though money was scarce, somehow there was always enough for books, and the Popowich home became the setting for literary readings and discussions.
With the other children in the area, Stephania attended the Mission School, Kolokreeka, until Grade 8, and then continued on to Grade 11 in Smoky Lake. A keen student, she worked for her room and board in Edmonton for a year in order to complete Grade 12 at Alberta College. Returning to Smoky Lake, Stephania worked in the Post Office until 1930, when she married Peter Paush, a gifted teacher- conductor who had emigrated from Ukraine two years earlier.
Peter Anthony Paush, the eldest of eight children of Anton and Evdokia Paush, spent his childhood and completed his public schooling in the village of Oblaznytsia, Halychyna. Possessing a fine tenor voice, he was sent to Lviv for four years to study conducting and diakivstvo (the art of lay-singing in the Orthodox liturgy). After his return to Oblaznytsia in 1922, he conducted choirs, directed plays, and served as official diak (lay-singer or cantor) in the church. But those were years of political unrest and, threatened by imprisonment for his association with the Ukrainian underground movement against Polish rule, Peter fled the country.
He arrived in Canada in April, 1028, and worked as a farmhand near Holden, Alberta for a year. In 1929 he was hired by the Ukrainian Orthodox Parish in Smoky Lake as "diak", choir leader, and Ukrainian School teacher. In addition, Peter Paush organized a theatrical group, which staged dramas, comedies, and even the operetta, Natalka Poltavka. The drama group and the choir performed in the neighbouring communities of Radway, Redwater, Egremont, Kahwin, and Bellis, where people were also hungry for cultural enrichment in their own language. The children of the Ukrainian School prepared programs throughout the year, especially for Christmas and Mother's Day.
After their marriage in 1930, Peter and Stephania Paush worked together towards promoting the development of Ukrainian religious and cultural activities in Smoky Lake. Stephania was a founding member of the Olha Kobylanska Branch of the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada, and the two of them helped to organize active local branches of the Ukrainian Self-Reliance League of Canada and the Canadian Ukrainian Youth Organization (SUMK).
Late in 1934 Peter was approached by the executive of the Ukrainian Orthodox Parish of St. John in Edmonton to take over the same duties he was performing in Smoky Lake, an offer he readily accepted. This was in the middle of the Depression, and conditions were such that Stephania and their two small children, Lydia and Boris, could not join Peter until a year later. Together again, the young couple turned their energies and talents to benefit the Ukrainian community in Edmonton, continuing in the style of commitment they had developed in Smoky Lake.
In addition to his many duties at St. John's, Peter Paush established Edmonton's first Ukrainian radio programs, over station CFRN. From 1938 to 1941, 117 half-hour programs were presented for the benefit of the M. Hrushewsky Institute. With few recordings available, Peter arranged all of the music for the choir and orchestra, conducted, and sang in each of these live broadcasts. In 1945, recognizing the need for a continuing choir to perform the rich legacy of Ukrainian choral works, he organized the M. Lysenko Male Chorus. The group was immensely popular, performed frequently, won festival awards and then disbanded in 1948, when the creation of other choirs assured the continuation of good choral singing.
Over the years, Peter Paush directed over twenty Ukrainian stage productions in Edmonton: comedies, dramas, the children's opera, Koza Dereza, and in 1973, the opera Zaporozhets za Dunaiem.
Throughout the winter of 1964, Peter travelled to Vegreville and Smoky Lake to conduct classes in "diakivstvo" to the young Orthodox theology students. Congregations across Canada continue to benefit from Peter Paush's inspiring teaching.
Not only was ever Paush a fine musician, he was an artist in wood as well. He supported his family as a carpenter/contractor, but his greatest satisfaction in that area came from meticulously constructing wooden church items, especially "iconostasy" (alter screens). With his good friend, artist Wadym Dobrolige, Peter devoted the 70th year of his life to creating his masterpiece- the magnificent iconostas that graces St. John's Cathedral in Edmonton.
During all these years, Stephania Paush gave the same dedicated service to their church, and to the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada. When the National Executive of the UWAC moved its headquarters to Edmonton in 1954, Stephania was elected National Corresponding Secretary, a position she held until 1961, when she was elected National President. During that two year term (she held the office again from 1973-1975) she became the first National President to visit every one of the 120 UWAC branches in Canada. The members of even the smallest, most isolated branches were thus encouraged and assured of the interest of the National Executive and other members across Canada. At the time of her death in 1978, Stephania was once again superbly carrying out the duties of National Corresponding Secretary.
A gifted writer, Stephania Paush contributed many articles to Prominence, the Ukrainian women's monthly magazine which she helped to establish in 1960. She wrote hundreds of speeches, published a fine collection of short stories she had written about pioneer life in Canada, based on her years in Smoky Lake, and left among her papers the unfinished manuscript of a novel, Maria.
Stephania Paush was a gentle, modest, gracious woman, with a rare gift for bringing out the best qualities in others. Her life was selflessly devoted to her church and her beloved Women's Association, for which she worked tirelessly all her adult years- writing, travelling, speaking. She had a unique sensitivity which immediately understood another person's feelings and the reality of every situation. With a kind, gentle word, and her special little half smile, she supported, encouraged, and inspired others to give no less than their best.
The same ability to inspire others though personal dedication applied to Peter Paush as well. Few in Canada knew as much about Ukrainian Orthodox Church music; no one else happily sent his arrangements, even hand-written manuscripts, to all who requested them. Perter Paush was the only one in Canada who not only knew the history and design of all Ukrainian Orthodox Church furnishings, but lovingly created them from the finest wood available.
Peter and Stephania Paush personified synergy. Each, alone, would have made significant contributions; but together, supporting and encouraging one another's individual talents, they permanently influenced the development of the Ukrainian community in Canada. Bother were incredibly generous- with what littler material wealth they had, and especially with themselves. Above all else, there was great joy; in their faith, in their culture, in their family and friends, in life itself."
From Stephania (1910-1978) and Peter Paush (1902-1977), in "Our legacy; history of Smoky Lake and district and family histories of men and women who pioneered this area" Smoky Lake and District Cultural and Heritage Society, 1983: 695-697
- Corporate body
- May 28, 1976-
The Central and East European Studies Society of Alberta was created as a result of a panel at the "One Day Conference on Central and East European Studies", organized by the Division of East European and Soviet Studies, held on February 14, 1976. During February and March, several meetings of a steering committee took place. At the meeting on April 10th, the draft constitution was approved, a Board of Directors chosen, and a name decided upon, the Central and East European Studies Society of Alberta or CEESSA. The first meeting of the Board of Directors took place on April 29th. The Society was officially incorporated under the Societies Act of the Province of Alberta, on May 28, 1976. The first board of directors included: M. Lobay, P. Czartoryski, A. Dudaravicius, B. Biro, C. Suchowersky, W. Kostash, F. Pelech, M. Sulyma, C. Rodkiewicz, E. Zeiter, J. Stribrny, A. Saruk, A. Osis, W. Schepanovich, W. Kuester, Mrs. Panciuk, M. Gulutsan, and T. Priestly. Mary Lobay served as the Society's first president.
The original objectives of the society were to assist academics in the effort to train students in an interdisciplinary field and to aid and support in the work on the histories of ethnic communities from Eastern Europe. The Society was established as a non-profit educational institution.
CEESSA held two conferences in Banff, AB. The "First Banff Conference on Central and East European Studies" was held March 3-6, 1977. During this conference, the Central and East European Studies Association of Canada or CEESAC was established, with Metro Gulutsan as its first president. The "Second Banff Conference on Central and East European Studies" was held March 2-5, 1978, and also contained a CEESAC meeting. The first conference had 122 participants, while the second had 194 participants.
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.
Roman Andrew Brytan was born in Edmonton, AB, on December 4, 1959 to Michael and Annie Brytan. Roman was married to Suzanna Brytan (nee Sidlar). They had five children. Roman was the voice of the Ukrainian community across Alberta, as he worked with CKER Radio 1480-turned 101.7 World FM, from March 1982 until November 2017. Over these 35 years, Roman's practice of his calling brought together all parts of the Ukrainian Canadian community, as he was regularly called upon to host and MC many events - local, provincial, national and international. Roman devoted his life to his community and to his family. He always said that his children kept him young, and instilled in them a pride in their heritage, culture and traditions. A broadcaster, song-writer, playwright, poet, lyricist, deejay, movie actor and event producer, Roman was the consummate showman, making sure that any event associated with his name was carried out with the utmost of professionalism and flare. His work was a credit to the Ukrainian community, elevating the efforts of its arts sector beyond its own expectations. His devotion to the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM) was evidenced by the many years he spent as local, and later national, president. Roman was a keynote speaker on many subjects connected to media and community, and in his later years, he earned the respect of his peers, playing the role of mentor and "elder statesman" to younger generations who sought his counsel. Roman passed away on November 26, 2018, at the age of 58 years.