CIUS Director’s Message 24 August 2021

 

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Welcome to the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Whether you have visited the CIUS site before or you are a newcomer, I trust you will find the information available here to be useful. I encourage you to take time to peruse the different sections of this site and learn more about our Institute’s research, scholarly developments, community events, publications, and funding opportunities.

As I write these words at the onset of the 2021-22 academic year while also reflecting on the past year, I am pleased to acknowledge our institute’s many accomplishments. The CIUS team lived and worked with aplomb through the challenging circumstances of both a pandemic and the University of Alberta’s still-ongoing restructuring. I am deeply thankful to all colleagues for their commitment to excellence in research and scholarship as evidenced by our output this past year -- our presentations, publications, and research partnerships. We came through these challenges a stronger and more united institution. Like many other teams living and working in the times of COVID-19, we acquired fresh skills, embraced new opportunities, and used lockdowns and quarantines as chances to look deeper inside of ourselves, reevaluating our priorities and seeking ways to optimize our operations.

The 2020-21 academic year proved eventful for the Institute: We hosted various scholarly and community-engagement events, continued some and finalized other ongoing research and publishing projects, launched new collaborative initiatives, and worked with our national and international partners on various projects. In August 2021 at the ICCEES World Congress convened at Montreal’s Concordia University, CIUS hosted an online open house reception where our program directors shared updates from CIUS’s centres and programs. While we all called in from our various homes and locations -- separated by distances and research agendas -- we spoke on the broad range of activities taking place in such diverse fields as language education, modern history, or encyclopedia publishing. In that moment I could not help but think of the extraordinary capacity the Institute possesses when it comes to building impactful scholarship. As diverse as our programs are, their works build on each other and emerge as a joint accomplishment of the countless erudite minds and community visionaries who have put their faith in CIUS and supported its activities unremittingly.

While our accomplishments are many, I shall mention just a few here. This year marks a major milestone for CIUS, as our colleagues at the Peter Jacyk Centre for Ukrainian Historical Research and CIUS Press worked relentlessly to complete the publication of the English-language translation of Mykhailo Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine-Rus'. Just as the original publication showed the historical continuity of Ukraine from ancient times, the English translation now offers the international academic community access to the writings of Ukraine's most prominent historian. As this project was thirty years in making, and as Ukraine and Ukrainian communities around the world celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the completion of the Hrushevsky translation project is a contribution worthy of this occasion.

2021 also marked the fiftieth anniversary since Canada’s 1971 adoption of an official multiculturalism policy. Having benefited ethnic communities across the country, the Policy of Multiculturalism also led to the establishment of the Institute itself in 1976. As a result, multiculturalism has been prominently featured in various scholarly reflections within Ukrainian Canadian studies. This year, my colleagues from the Ukrainian Language Education Centre and the Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Centre have been actively contributing to the ongoing dialogue on the meanings and legacy of multiculturalism in today’s Canada, and I invite you to view these CIUS-hosted presentations by searching under the tag M50 and as links on the CIUS website. In November 2021, we will conclude this year of reflection with a national M50 symposium wherein scholars and community leaders will address what the future of multiculturalism holds in Canada. We look forward to welcoming you to the University of Alberta campus for this important event. In a similar vein but also in recognition of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, CIUS and its Contemporary Ukraine Studies Program (CUSP) have taken into consideration the ideas of multiculturalism when designing academic activities in Ukraine in partnership with Ukrainian institutions and colleagues. In December CUSP will host an international symposium in Kharkiv, exploring the meanings of a Ukrainian multicultural society in today’s Ukraine. With both symposiums, plans are underway to publish their proceedings.

In 2021, Ukrainian Canadians mark the 130th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, and this round date offers another opportunity for reflection on more than a century-long legacy of Ukrainians in this nation. While the early years of Ukrainian Canadian history have been relatively well documented by my colleagues at CIUS and other research centres in Canada, the Institute has also been earnestly examining later periods of Ukrainian Canadian history in Canada. In particular, I want to mention the launch of a three-year assessment study on post-1991 immigration from Ukraine to Canada. A team of researchers from the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan, and McMaster University have been collaborating on this undertaking (colloquially tagged as the Post-1991 Project) for the past year and will host the first presentation of their preliminary findings in Autumn 2021.

I mentioned earlier that the Institute has soul-searched on how to optimize our on-the-ground operations, including how we communicate with the world. As we start another academic year under the constrictions of a pandemic, prepare for some novel developments. To keep our supporters and partners apprised of so many ongoing activities, this fall will mark the launch of a CIUS e-quarterly -- an electronic newsletter that, as title suggests, will be produced four times a year. We hope you will enjoy this publication and the frequency with which our CIUS updates will be shared with you from now on. Another communications enhancement will be the launch of a fully redesigned CIUS Annual Review, to come out in late November in lieu of the familiar CIUS Annual Newsletter. And to ensure our friends and patrons will always have ready access to the latest information on our academic and community-focused projects, this year will also see universal improvements to the CIUS website. The Institute continues to engage in strategic planning focused on research and scholarship, and I would like to thank all program directors for the work that has been and is being done in this direction.

While here at the University of Alberta CIUS members are entering another academic year, Ukrainian communities around the world are engaged in commemoration and celebrations associated with the anniversaries as mentioned above. Of special significance to us in the field of Ukrainian Studies is 24 August 2021, the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence and the world-altering arrival of a new state of Ukraine onto the global political stage. On behalf of all colleagues at CIUS, I wish all Ukrainians around the world a joyous celebration of 30 years of independence!

 

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen

CIUS Director