Edmonton's Ukrainian community marks International Mother Language Day with landmark event

On 10 February 2018 the Ukrainian Language Education Centre (ULEC), Children's Theatre Studio "Dzherelo", and Ukrainian Women's Organization of Canada (UWO), with support from the Edmonton branch of the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF), the Alberta Foundation for Ukrainian Education Society (AFUES), the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, and the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, hosted an event marking International Mother Language Day... The UNF Hall welcomed nearly 110 young participants from the "Ridna Shkola" primary Saturday school and Ivan Franko School of Ukrainian Studies (junior classes). Among the many interesting linguistic and cultural activities designed to spark their interest and develop their skills, they attended a performance of the play Once Upon a Dog's Life (based on the Ukrainian folk tale "Sirko"). The theatrical presentation of the play, by a young cast of the UWO-sponsored Children's Theatre Studio "Dzherelo", was an unqualified success

05 March 2018

 

On 10 February 2018 the Ukrainian Language Education Centre (ULEC), Children's Theatre Studio
"Dzherelo", and Ukrainian Women's Organization of Canada (UWO), with support from the Edmonton
branch of the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF), the Alberta Foundation for Ukrainian Education
Society (AFUES), the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, and the Canadian Institute
of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) at the University of Alberta, hosted an event marking International Mother
Language Day. As noted by the ULEC acting director, Prof. Alla Nedashkivska, "This is a relatively
new international observance. It was introduced in November 1999 following a resolution of the 30th
Session of the UNESCO General Conference to promote cultural diversity and multilingualism. This
year we decided to become involved in commemorating this day and organized a special event for the
students of Ukrainian Saturday schools in Edmonton."
The UNF Hall welcomed nearly 110 young participants from the "Ridna Shkola" primary Saturday
school and Ivan Franko School of Ukrainian Studies (junior classes). Among the many interesting
linguistic and cultural activities designed to spark their interest and develop their skills, they attended a
performance of the play Once Upon a Dog's Life (based on the Ukrainian folk tale "Sirko").
The theatrical presentation of the play, by a young cast of the UWO-sponsored Children's Theatre
Studio "Dzherelo", was an unqualified success. One of the "Ridna Shkola" teachers remarked, "Even
the smallest preschool children-who are naturally pretty restless, as a rule-watched the plot unfolding
on stage in fascination for almost an hour. Along with the rest of the attending children, they were
excited to recognize their siblings, friends, and classmates among the players."
The artistic director of the "Dzherelo" troupe, Alla Semenko, sees the tight links to Ukrainian language
and culture as being key to the theatre studio's success. In her words:
"Our main goal is not only to facilitate the children's inclusive and harmonious development but also to
foster their love and respect of Ukrainian language and culture, and to give them the experience of
Ukrainian traditions. Today's event provides a wonderful opportunity for our actors to show off their
knowledge and skills, acting abilities, and everything else they've learned in our studio to their parents
and friends."
After the play, the audience learned some of its dances and songs, taught by Mrs. Semenko,
"Dzherelo's" professional accompanist Mr. Dmytro Rusnak, and the cast. A friendly contest was held to
test attendees' knowledge of Ukrainian literature, moderated by Ms. Nataliya Nayavko and Dr.
Viktoriya Yakovlyeva, with prizes donated by ULEC. The Saturday schools' teachers also led group
activities with their classes, allowing the children to share their reviews of the play. The exercises also
included comparing the play and the original folk tale, picking their favourite characters, and
summarizing the plot.
These activities-designed to enhance the children's literary knowledge and cultural competencies, as
well as develop their language and communicative skills-were prepared by ULEC research associate
Olena Sivachenko and Ms. Nayavko, a special language advisor for Ukrainian language and culture at
Alberta Education, and adapted by the Saturday school teachers to suit the interests and language
abilities of their students.
Undoubtedly, the youngest children had the most fun making sock puppets! Credit for the initiative and
implementation of this creative idea goes to "Dzherelo" artistic director Alla Semenko, thanks to whom
the characters of Sirko and Wolf were animated by the children, with the assistance of several
volunteers.
In sum, this celebration of International Mother Language Day was a landmark event in Edmonton's
Ukrainian community, made possible through the close co-operation of several Ukrainian organizations
and the assistance of dedicated volunteers. ULEC would like to thank the following for their
indispensable contributions in making this celebration possible: Ukrainian Women's Organization of
Canada, Ukrainian National Federation, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, "Dzherelo" Children's
Theatre Studio actors, artistic director Alla Semenko, assistant artistic director Olga Fediv, sound tech
Valeriy Semenko, and assistant sound tech George Yopyk, Dmytro Rusnak, Nataliya Nayavko, Olena
Hartsula, the boards and teachers of Ridna Shkola and Ivan Franko School of Ukrainian Studies. We
would like to express special thanks to our extraordinary volunteers, who helped with the organization
and implementation of the day's events. These numerous individuals (too many to name everyone here)
were indispensable to the success of the celebration-again, many thanks to all!