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Kingston, Ont. Ukrainian community celebrates heritage

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Kingston, Ont., Ukrainian community celebrates heritage
WATCH: The Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston celebrated its 54th annual Lviv Ukraine Folklore Festival this weekend, mindful of the ongoing war in Ukraine – Jun 11, 2023

This weekend marked the 54th annual Lviv Ukraine Folklore Festival in Kingston, Ont.

For the weekend, Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School was temporarily transformed into a sanctuary for Kingston’s Ukrainian people to celebrate their heritage.

The hallways and walls were awash with Ukrainian cultural items and people filed in to take in the country’s rich arts and culture.

“It’s our 54th annual event, so this actually makes this event here in Kingston one of the longest-running consecutive Ukrainian folk festivals in Canada,” said Lubomyr Luciuk, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston.

Hundreds of people attended the event over the weekend.

There were numerous bits and pieces of Ukrainian art, such as dancers, musicians, traditional Ukrainian food and even vendors selling Ukrainian toys, clothing and more.

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Luciuk said it was heartwarming to see so many people together, celebrating the culture.

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“These are young men and women dancing in the dance group. They’re having fun. People are eating good Ukrainian food, they’re looking at the exhibits, they’re having a nice time,” he said.

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However, the entire event is done in the shadow of the war in Ukraine, which has driven many people out of their home country to all parts of the world, including to Kingston.

“It’s very hard to see Ukrainian news. It’s like your habit to see Ukrainian news because I have a lot of friends in Ukraine, my family, my parents, my husband in Ukraine,” said Iryna Yaroslavska, a Ukrainian refugee in Kingston.

She said she left Slovakia with her two young daughters a year ago to come to Kingston in search of a better life.

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What she found, however, was a much bigger welcoming committee than she expected.

“It’s a very large community in Kingston for me. It is very important when you have support,” she said.

Luciuk says that the war and its effects on Ukrainian people are still top of mind for many people, himself included, and that the weekend’s fun was still aimed at supporting the efforts in their homeland. The collapse of a dam last week only added to the suffering.

The rupture of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam and the emptying of its reservoir on the Dnieper River on Wednesday added to the misery in a region that has suffered for more than a year from artillery and missile attacks.

“I saw a man yesterday put $200 in the donation jar to help the flood victims. I mean, come on, this is remarkable,” said Luciuk.

– with a file from the Associated Press

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