Hoosli, a Ukrainian male chorus, will be singing the national anthem prior to puck drop, and while the long-running community choir has been on anthem duty at Canada Life Centre in the past, this occasion has special significance.
Group member Chris Sklepowich told 680 CJOB that the group knew they had to step up as ambassadors for the Ukrainian community in Manitoba and overseas.
Ukrainian-Canadians have been nervously watching the ongoing war in Ukraine, which was invaded by neighbouring Russia less than a week ago, and Sklepowich said Hoosli’s performance can act as a show of support for the community.
“To be able to be that visual representation of support, and that visual representation of solidarity with our friends and family in Ukraine, is going to be a very special opportunity, and also a very emotional one,” he said.
“We’re already preparing ourselves for what we as individuals and as a choir will be feeling when we step out onto the ice.”
Sklepowich said he’s hoping to inspire as many people as possible to lend a helping hand to Ukrainians in crisis.
“It’s only a minute and 10 seconds long, but what we’re probably going to feel as we walk out onto the ice, hear the audience’s response, and then be able to sing — it’s just something that is going to be a really, really memorable experience for us.”
Hoosli’s Mike Labay said it’s also important to show the world that Ukrainian culture continues to thrive throughout the diaspora.
“I’ve spoken to lots of people who have had the opportunity to go to Ukraine, whenever they have gone over and performed — whether it’s dancing or singing or anything like that — just the appreciation from the Ukrainian people,” he said.
“They know that their culture is being kept alive outside of Ukraine.”