Round Table III: Ukrainian-Canadian Studies | Discussion

Jars Balan:

One thing about Ukrainian-Canadian studies that motivates me is the realization that the work we do in studying the Ukrainian community in Canada, I think, is going to be a game changer in certain discussions of Canadian studies.

I will give you one personal example. Over the years I have been chipping away, compiling a chronology of Ukrainian theatrical performances in the country from 1900 to the 1950s, 1960s. And so far I have literally thousands of entries of Ukrainian performances from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island. What is interesting is not just the sheer volume and longevity of this theatrical activity but the fact that there is a distinct Canadian component. There are plays that were written by authors in Canada, some on Canadian themes, some on Ukrainian themes. Years ago an article was published in the Canadian Theatre Review on the history of Canadian theatre. Basically, the article said that Canadian theatre starts with British theatre being imported into Canada and American touring companies coming to Canada in the earlier years, but it does not really start until 1960 in Toronto with Spring Thaw, and then you have this whole explosion of indigenous theatrical literature.

I remember talking with my mother about this, and when she read it she said, “That’s outrageous! We lived on the same street as Semen Kowbel. He wrote, like, I don’t know, twenty-one plays…” People she knew personally wrote plays that were performed on the Canadian stage—well, they are in Ukrainian, but they are not known. I have spoken on this subject at a number of conferences of the Association of Canadian Theatre Research, and those people are all just riveted, fascinated.

I think another area where we are game-changing is the whole question of World War I and the discussion around it. The UCCLA[1] has raised the internment issue among Canadian scholars: it was not even on their radar before, and now it is part of the discussion of the First World War. There are a host of other areas that I think that we have an impact on, Canadian studies in particular.

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen:

A few themes I have seen recurring. One is engagement, or rather, working with the community through accessing information via interviews, via world histories.

I would like to be more specific this time and point out that this work seems to be overwhelming and resource-needing. But at the same time it is actually quite possible to accomplish a lot on the ground if one is a bit creative. The Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage at the University of Saskatchewan—and we will have a presenter later, Professor Kordan, who will point out a few more pursuits we do in the centre— has undertaken several initiatives with respect to Ukrainian-Canadian studies.

Our annual budget is about $50,000 or a bit more per year, and that is not enough. One can think, if one is ambitious, of pursuing several projects. Over the course of the last ten or fifteen years we have produced collections—speaking of digital humanities—on the outcomes of our research. It is not enough just to conduct the work and write up academic articles and get brownie points. We need to present our work in different formats for other consumers out there. I am talking about oral history and other archival collections that we are trying to digitize and make publicly available. One of these projects concerns the Ukrainian-Canadian experience of socio-cultural change in the second half of the twentieth century. We have about a hundred and twenty interviews collected, digitized, and partially transcribed. They are fully available through the library system to whomever wants to research them. Creatively, with the students, we have ventured into urban history (speaking of other themes that I found important) and pursued the oral history of 20th Street, the main locale where Ukrainian-Canadian urban history evolved in Saskatoon. Granted, it is an ambitious project and granted, one cannot take a specifically Ukrainian perspective in carrying it out. While teaching the course in oral history, I have involved all kinds of students who are not Ukrainians at all. These students represent the entire community, which is multi-ethnic, multicultural, differentiated economically, and so on. This kind of work gave us an opportunity to focus on the Ukrainian-Canadian dimension of that very research and its next stage.

My emphasis here is to think creatively about the product of our work. Speaking of co-operation—which we all commented on, and obviously this comment came up—I could not help but think that we actually have a lot to learn from our colleagues in Ukraine. What I mean by that—and I always admire Ukrainian colleagues working for different research institutions who have traditionally gotten involved in these mega-meta-projects—is an annual pursuit, or several years spent on one large focused project in which members of the department or members of the PCUH would be involved. Eventually they would produce sizable collections reflecting the history of, say, the Ukrainian peasantry. That is what comes to mind from the Institute of History, for example. The meta-projects that Natalie [Kononenko] referred to, such as the Sanctuary Project, give us an opportunity for networking, and we probably should be seeking out opportunities to engage in such meta-projects that we can pursue independently. They are much like the format that has been described, where each researcher has his own interest and his own passion. Conferences would also be nice to have, where we can gather and think through what we can do with the resources we have, because resources are always limited.

Lubomyr Luciuk:

Concerning the question of doing oral history with the displaced persons, the political refugees who came in the so-called third wave, I think that opportunity is essentially now gone. There are still opportunities, and they should certainly be taken. I can say, and I mentioned this in my talk, that Dr. Lupul, with his oral-history project, engaged both Zenko Zwarycz in Toronto and myself here in the west, and many of the people we interviewed were of the generation that helped the DPs, people such as Bohdan Panchuk, Stanley Frolick, Anthony Yaremovych, and people who were political refugees themselves. That pool of oral-history information has recently been digitized, thanks in part to the work of Jars Balan and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation. We provided the funding to digitize that collection here, and the collection that was done at the Multicultural History Society of Toronto, and exchanged those collections. So they should all now be digitally available from both ends of the country. But more work could certainly be done.

Secondly, in terms of working with other communities, one of the founding principles of the endowment council of the First World War Internment Recognition Fund, established in 2008, was that we would always include the other communities affected by Canada’s first national internment operations. For example, today we have had Hungarian, Serbian, Alevi Kurd, Polish, Turkish, and Croatian representatives on the council who have taken an active role in articulating the council’s mandate and assigning funds from that $10 million endowment for various commemorative and educational projects across Canada. I have to give recognition to my colleague and good friend Bohdan Kordan, who has just written what probably will be the go-to book on Canada’s first national internment operations, published by McGill-Queen’s Press. But we also have Peter Melnycky here, who has had grants from them; my own daughter, Kassandra Luciuk; others such as Mark Minenko, who are being funded; and Ryan Boyko, who has come out with a great series of short vignettes called The Camps and is now doing a film called Enemy Aliens. All these are intended to be inclusive, multicultural, and reach out to a larger constituency. Indeed, it is such public-space projects that I think that we as researchers in Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian studies can do a lot of good work with.

For those who do not know this, on April 8th of next year, so within a few months, a major new memorial to the Great War will be unveiled in France by Lens, near Vimy Ridge. And the central pathway, thanks to some generous donors, is going to be named after Corporal Filip Konowal, who won his Victoria Cross there at the Battle of Hill 70. A major war memorial in France, visited by approximately 750,000 people per year, will be named and posted trilingually, honouring Corporal Filip Konowal. That is the kind of profile our community needs to develop.

Finally, in terms of collaboration, which everybody touched on. As I mentioned, in my 40 years or so of watching centres come and go and do their projects, there has been some co-operation, there is no doubt of that. Books have been shared, colleagues have met at conferences. But there is a need to have one annual or biennial meeting where they all get together and discuss an agenda—they can go their separate ways after that—to discuss collaboration and opportunities, graduate students, funding, scholarships, promoting the new generation. If we want to continue Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian studies, I do think we actually have to provide a venue for cultivating that next generation.

Where I disagree with my good friend Bob Magocsi is that I do not think we can possibly oversaturate the market. I think we need more people interested in Ukrainian or Ukrainian-Canadian themes. Many of them may not get jobs in the academy; that could very well happen. We all know about tightening economic circumstances, and all that was discussed yesterday. But they will go out trained as people interested in things Ukrainian or Ukrainian-Canadian, and they will carry that with them, and that will diffuse. I think that is very important.

In terms of collaboration, comments were made about sacred space and the effort here in Western Canada, but just as an example, a very good one, is Saskatchewan co-operating with Alberta. But who is doing the Maritime churches? Who is doing the churches in northern Ontario and northern Quebec? Those have been ignored, largely because there is an east/west divide that was mentioned. We need to make sure that we are actually working together and covering the country coast to coast. There is a vibrant community of Ukrainians in Sydney, Nova Scotia, based on the coal mines. Some of whom were interned, one of whom, a man by the name of Harry Kowal, is now principal of the Royal Military College. A former brigadier-general, he was a Ukrainian called Kowalchuk, is now Kowal—or as he likes to say, “Coal,” and I say, “No, that is what your father mined; your name is Kowal.” [Laughter.] This is the kind of person we need to engage, but we do not engage him by studying Prairie churches. We have to study his church, right?

Andrij Makuch:

As Lubomyr mentioned, starting an interview project with the post–World War II generation would have been more feasible twenty years ago than now. In terms of co-operation, I think baby steps might be one good way to start before you talk about mega-projects. Agreeing to have a clearinghouse or one place where you can share information just between the various institutes and players involved would be a great idea. I will just use a concrete example. Recently a book came out about Ukrainian churches in Saskatchewan, and if this were, let us say, posted on a Facebook page—for people to know that this is where you go to learn about things that come out—then I would not be writing emails saying, “Did you know that this book came out?” etcetera.

Also, I wanted to pick upon Natalie [Kononenko’s] comment on doing something so cool that everyone would sit up and pay attention. In terms of Ukrainian-Canadian studies, two things that really are exceptional and, presented in a certain way, would be incredibly cool. One is just the fact of the bilingual, bicultural world in which Ukrainians lived in the Prairie provinces, in the aspen parkland. Manoly Lupul’s memoirs mention that he grew up in—as he called it—a bilingual, bicultural world. This is really something extraordinary in terms of the North American landscape, where you have a large stretch of land with large areas that have a totally distinct culture. The other area to which we can also pay more attention—it has faded and in some cases has almost disappeared—is recognition of the role played by Ukrainian Canadians in establishing multiculturalism. In a world with growing nativist tendencies, Canada really does stand out as a beacon of tolerance, and a large part of that is the establishment of the multiculturalism policy and its general acceptance by many Canadians, although the Reform Party was strongly against the cultural heritage aspect of it.

Roman Yereniuk:

I believe very strongly that we have done a lot of work in oral interviews and oral history and elsewhere, but we need some form of collaboration, of putting it all together, of indexing it and doing it this way. I will tell you my story. A couple of years ago I decided to do a little bit of research on people like my mother, who came as an Ostarbeiter to Edmonton and settled here, worked here, and I could not find any material. And all of a sudden it popped up on the computer screen—the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre at St. Vladimir Institute [in Toronto], an institution that is not affiliated with the university in a formal sense. They had a whole volume of Ostarbeiter stories that I could glean and learn more about the history of what my mother went through. Otherwise you know what happens—many times we want to ask those questions once they are gone, and unfortunately we did not ask those difficult questions of these Ostarbeiter, or at least I did not, while they were alive.

Another thing that I wanted to mention is the various communities that we should be engaging with. Two of the communities that I would like to suggest are the Mennonites and the Jews. About twenty years ago, in Winnipeg, we hosted a conference of the three communities—Mennonites, Jews, and Ukrainians in Winnipeg, or in Manitoba—and we got a lot of parallel stories in all three communities. One of the interesting things was a very strong paper on Jewish theatre. So I looked at Jars and said, “This is a similar story to our Ukrainian theatre in Canada.” And sure enough, it was. It is interesting that many of our communities that came from Ukraine created a kind of ethnographic territory: they settled in patterns, for example, along Winnipeg’s Selkirk Avenue. You have Ukrainians and Jews living side by side in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s for a good chunk of the time. We now have a Mennonite University in our province [Manitoba]: the provincial government allowed one of the colleges that was Mennonite to create a university. And certainly that university is not going to come to us, but maybe we should go to them and do some collaborative projects between the Mennonites and the Ukrainians.

Natalie Kononenko:

One of the things that as a scholar I find fascinating, and it has come up here again and again in this discussion, is the blending of cultures and the blending of belief. And I think that the sort of work we do (again, I will repeat what I said) can inform not just the Ukrainian community, the Ukrainian-Canadian community, but Canada as a whole—precisely because Ukrainians have been leaders in multiculturalism on a political level, as I am sure Peter Savaryn will tell you. But also because (as we just heard), as a community in a special cultural—if you want, bicultural—setting, a bicultural community, it is something for us to do.

Listening to all these people reporting on all these good projects—and they did so again in this second round—I say, as I look to our dear director of CIUS and maybe other people who work for CIUS, we need better advertising. Or maybe I should address Bohdan [Klid], because Bohdan does a great job of advertising all sorts of things, as does Halyna [Klid]. We need a better job of advertising what has been done so that the community knows, and possibly also people beyond the community know, the contributions we have made both to Ukrainian studies and to Canadian studies, history, and elsewhere.

The final thing: all of us have mentioned collaboration, coordination, and I know (and you probably do, too) that there is some very interesting material in Sudbury, including documentation of sacral heritage. We are not ignoring the east; I know very well what is going on in the east. It is just that on Sanctuary there are three of us. I would love to write a grant proposal, but we really need help, especially in this heavily bureaucratic time, when I spend more time filling out documents than I do on this interesting research in blended-belief systems and blended communities. I need help arranging coordination, making phone calls, making the whatever it is to get these things going, all these neat projects that we would love to do. Yes, we should probably have a meeting to prioritize, and having had that, maybe we can get some support to organize and do a mega-project or whatever. I would love a museum, by the way, in Ottawa—a big national one.

Jars Balan:

About advertising better: we try, of course, to advertise what we are doing, but it is a challenge because you are caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of work. And a lot of our scholarly projects are not done in six months, and you cannot produce results so quickly, as they are done over a period of time.

One project that I can tell you about—and again, one of those game-changing projects—we have gone through the Canadian mainstream press of 1932–33, and this is all a spin-off from the [CIUS] Holodomor Research and Education Consortium. We have gone through the Toronto Star, the Toronto Telegram, the Globe, the Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Tribune, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, the Vancouver Sun, the Edmonton Journal, the Edmonton Bulletin, day by day. We wanted to know what did Canadians know about what was going on in Stalinist Ukraine during the Famine? It was astounding how much coverage there was. I mean, in our community the assumption was always that the Soviets just suppressed it, nobody knew about it, and it was only in 1983, when the fiftieth anniversary of the Famine was commemorated, that more people started to talk about it.

It was shocking to discover how many Canadians (not Ukrainian Canadians) were in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, and how many of them wrote up things. There was an engineer who came back and wrote eighteen articles in the Toronto Telegram about what a disaster the Five-Year Plan was. There was a Toronto journalist who travelled through the Famine areas of Ukraine in the fall of 1932 and wrote detailed accounts of her experiences there. There were journalists who went and whitewashed the whole thing. But this is going to have a big impact on the discussion of the Holodomor—it is our Canadian contribution to Ukrainian studies and the discussion of the Famine. And in Canadian studies it is going to force a bit of a re-evaluation of Prime Minister R.B. Bennett. He was the Conservative prime minister at the time; he does not have a great reputation because of the Depression. I have been impressed, actually, by many qualities the man had.  You should be aware that the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium came up, and it sort of pushed us, pulled us in the direction of doing some of this work—this happens all the time.

Recently our Institute has also become very much involved in the making of a documentary film by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in Toronto on Ukrainians in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. This was not an immediate priority of ours. We are planning to focus more attention on the Second World War and on the broader context as well—the community during the war years. The film is focused just on Ukrainian Canadians in uniform during the war. Serhii Cipko, Andrij [Makuch], and I have been very active in doing research so that the product is solidly based, and that includes doing interviews, looking at the press, and other things.

Much of what we do is often unseen because we receive many private communications via the Internet in particular, and Facebook and stuff. I do not know about my colleagues here, but we get requests regularly from all over the world with questions relating to Ukrainian-Canadian studies, especially now from Ukraine, where you have diaspora studies and people doing Ukrainian-Canadian studies asking for information, asking for help. Some of them are scholars, some are students, some are filmmakers, all kinds of areas. It is important that we try to help these people, because we do have resources at our disposal, but it is of course very time-consuming. There has been much co-operation on the personal level because we know one another, we know our interests, we run into each other at conferences, and yes, maybe we could try to coordinate better what we do, but both human and financial resources are constraining factors. I am very encouraged to see some young scholars here who can join us in this work and take it over as we go on into the future, so that is a very positive development.

Questions and answers

Ashley Halko-Addley:

We have heard many wonderful ideas for the future of Ukrainian-Canadian studies today, and Ukrainian studies yesterday, and I thank you for commenting on students, but I was wondering if you could comment on one more suggestion. Students are under-represented at this conference and in its discussions and panels, so I would like to suggest that more students be engaged in discussions and decisions regarding the future of Ukrainian studies, as they are the future of Ukrainian studies.

Lubomyr Luciuk:

I think all my colleagues on the panel agree. I think one of the few flaws in this meeting that we are having—we have these interesting posters that I referred to—but in fact, it would have been nice to have the next generation of scholars, who represent the very great and interesting, intriguing diversity of different interests, from my generation anyway, to be presenting, to be talking about what they are interested in doing. I am an external reviewer for a PhD dissertation at Simon Fraser University right now, where a very bright young woman is doing an archaeological investigation of the Morrissey Internment Camp. This is a completely different perspective from anything that Bohdan [Kordan] or I have ever looked at. She has just recently uncovered not only the escape tunnel but the digging tools and a crucifix—a crucifix made by one of the internees out of barbed wire. What a symbol, right? So this is the kind of young scholar that I would love to have had here today to share findings with you. I am delighted that we have the seven or eight we have here, with their posters, but I would gladly have sacrificed some of my time to them.

Genia Boivin:

I just would like to take up what my colleague said. I understand we are seen as the future of Ukrainian studies. However, most of us are already of a certain age, so I was wondering if any of you have been to high schools to try to interest the actual young generation in Ukrainian studies and see what they would like to study. Ukrainian studies and perhaps video games, or cinema, so have any of you done this and actually studied their culture? I think it is important to have their voice here, and, of course, none of them are here because they are not at university. But they are going to be taking your classes, so I think it would be important to acknowledge what they want.

Jars Balan:

I was happy to get out of high school—I do not want to go back, actually. [Laughter.] Indeed, these are valid points.

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen:

I think it is a very important direction in our work: publicity, promotion. I do use opportunities to go and work with youth, maybe not through schools but through summer camps. And I do put on witch hats if I work with eight-year-olds, and I do have games for them to play that I hope eventually will settle in their heads that they can have fun with professors at the university once they grow up.

Kassandra Luciuk:

I do want to start by taking the opportunity to say that I think all of us appreciate the opportunity—all of us on this student travel award. But I do want to clarify that there was no call for papers. We were not asked to speak or present our research. We were asked to come here with posters, which is fantastic, although maybe a little odd in the humanities, but we were not actually given an opportunity to [present].

I find it strange that—this year I am the recipient of the Darcovich Fellowship—I actually found out about the student travel award by word of mouth after the due date. Not to be overly critical, but there is a bit of a communication barrier, and I think that maybe a student panel would have been a really fantastic idea. And something that my colleague here mentioned earlier—I do not want to speak on her behalf, but she is an undergraduate student, and I think it would also be fantastic if we created funding opportunities for undergraduate students (who were not allowed to apply for the student travel award), because undergraduate students are how we get more MAs and PhDs into programs, by engaging them at the undergraduate level. That would also have been a fantastic funding opportunity.

Manoly Lupul:

Okay, now this is going to be positive. [Laughter.] You see before you, in the main, part-time scholars of Ukrainian Canadians. These are either geographers, or responsible for the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, or people interested primarily in the theological aspect. Or people like Jars [Balan], who is responsible for almost everything to do with Ukrainian Canadians at present, running around for everything, sending books to Ukraine, and picking up money from anyone he can find who has a few cents. This will always be the case. You will never have specialists in something called “Ukrainian-Canadian studies”—I found that out when I was director. It became very clear about the third or fourth year. They will come from Canadian studies, East European studies, sociology, political science, and they will give you a chapter or an article, and that is as far as it will go.

One thing I missed in the presentation is the question of money. It is nice to hear about the projects that you are either into, or you are hoping to develop, or that somebody should take up. Various things are not being done for lack of funds. It all takes money, and none of you really said very much. I think only Roman [Yereniuk] said a little bit about money. I do believe that CIUS has a role. I do not mean that CIUS should make money available—goodness, no one knows better than I how strapped they really are. I would point out to you that the endowments that have come forward so far for Ukrainian studies have primarily come forward voluntarily. I know that there is a newsletter once a year; I know that there are reports in Ukrainian News and, for all I know, they may go into other newspapers. But it is not as if CIUS ever made a special effort in any way to reach out to the public for funding. We might call it massive funding, call it whatever you want. These have been largely from émigrés also, I think it is fair to say, who happen to have done fairly well and are very sensitive about helping to do something about the situation in Ukraine. There have been very few endowments for Ukrainian-Canadian studies. What I want to suggest is the following: the public, in my opinion, has to be sensitized. It has to become conscious that there is something called Ukrainian-Canadian studies, and that there are people across the land trying their best to do what they can with very limited funds.

I have a suggestion. It has been mentioned here that coordination is needed, that maybe people like you should get together. I agree. But where would you be going? What would be the point of it? You would be talking to one another, but you are talking now, and to a whole bunch of other people here who are in fact interested primarily in Ukrainian studies per se. From their good hearts, one day, they might even produce an article or two dealing with Ukrainians in Canada. Why not have the Ukrainian Canadian Congress spend a whole day on the situation in Ukrainian-Canadian studies to sensitize the UCC to the fact that endowments would be appreciated for Ukrainian-Canadian studies? Instead of simply placing it before them in Winnipeg, or wherever it would be held, people who are the leaders, the heads of these various institutions, or the best spokespeople from these various institutions would meet and draw up an agenda for such a one-day session—not a session but a one-day immersion into the question of funding for Ukrainian-Canadian studies. In my opinion, this has never been done, and CIUS should bring together the heads first to draw up an agenda where they can say “these are the kinds of things”—including the young, by the way. That would be a very important function for the Institute—not to provide the money, though. They may have to fund your meeting, or a meeting of people like you. But in my opinion that is the least they can do, and that is what we should try to do if we want to get something done with Ukrainian-Canadian studies that is more than simply limping. Jars [Balan], you would have a big role in this, certainly, but it would lead to something that should make your job easier in the long run. Andrij [Makuch], you too would have a role in this, because you have been closely involved in it, and Natalie too. Anyway, that is what I propose.

Natalie Kononenko:

You are very much on point, and I myself was thinking about funding as we were all talking. The first thing I would like to do is thank Peter and Doris Kule, who funded my Chair and gave me the opportunity. Actually, I pay for the Sanctuary Project out of my Chair endowment, so I very much thank them for that. I also thank KIAS, the Kule Institute for Advanced Study, which has funded our work, and it has been generous. Obviously we could use more, but what I would like to add to this is that I am incredibly appreciative of the donors. I am especially appreciative of Peter and Doris Kule and what they have done for me. But I think the next step we should take, especially in terms of Ukrainian-Canadian studies, is getting federal funding. Certainly our team has done it—we are applying for federal funding—and I think maybe we should have whomever coordinates this at CIUS coordinate the applications for SSHRC[2] funding.

Lubomyr Luciuk:

Dr. Lupul’s suggestion is an excellent one, and I would like to see something like that happen at the next triennial UCC congress. I think the proposal being made now, just after the one that was held in Regina a few weeks ago, is good in the sense that it gives Jars or whomever several years to prepare for the congress, wherever it may be held in Canada. Certainly there is enough lead time to be able to coordinate the heads and representatives of the various institutes—which can be done by Skype or FaceTime, by the way. There is no need necessarily to get together physically. But I think that is a wonderful proposal, and it bears following up on.

I would like to point out, though, that in terms of funding, and this group of old people should be made aware of this, there is a $10 million fund that is now in about year eight—the Canadian World War I Internment Recognition Fund—that was a symbolic redress we secured from the government of Canada in 2008. It has already funded some very good projects. Frankly, it has also funded a few that I do not think are very good, but it has funded some excellent projects. It has another seven to eight years to run. It works off the interest, and right now we are in a positive situation. I am on the endowment council. So those interested in the First World War period, including the internment operations, but not exclusively, have a much easier route for securing funding than, for example, going to SSHRC, which can be quite difficult and ponderous and frustrating.

There is also a secondary fund that you should be aware of—the Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Fund (UCVF), which was based on the sale of Branch 360 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Toronto. Until recently I was a member of that committee. The sale of that property rendered about $4.5 million. It was then taken by the dominion command of the Royal Canadian Legion, resulting in a legal action; 2.4 million dollars were returned to the Shevchenko Foundation as the UCVF. So, whether you are studying World War I or World War II, or indeed any aspect of Ukrainian-Canadian military history, or even Ukrainian military history, there is a fund available to you. These are two resources that, frankly, are not being used as efficiently as they could be. I am sitting on a council where we often say, “Why is no one applying? Why is no one coming to us for money?”

Manoly Lupul:

Because no one knows about that.

Lubomyr Luciuk:

There is an annual report; it has been sent to libraries. I do not think it is intentional; this is the way it is, people do not know about it in a way. And yet, as was mentioned by one of the speakers, the internment story, in broad brush, has already penetrated national consciousness.

There was an article in the Globe and Mail that had nothing to do with Ukrainians; it was about “whiteness” as a construct. It was very controversial, just a week ago or so, and the author of that piece (Denise, the name escapes me) mentioned the internment of Italians and Ukrainians as “whites” in the world wars in Canada.[3] So here is—I believe—a Trinidadian lady of Indian descent who is writing in the national newspaper about Italians and Ukrainians being interned in Canada. So we are out there. The endowment council maybe has not made as good an effort as it should, I do not know, but surely, having said it, now you all know about it. They have a website;[4] look it up and apply, because the money is there.

Jars Balan:

For the record, CIUS has taken advantage of both, with our conference two years ago on internment and also now, working on this documentary film, which is funded from the UCVF. We are helping them spend their money, just as we help other people spend their money on projects that we think are important. So we are aware of these things. And Dr. Lupul, you should know that I have been talking with Paul Grod, the UCC president. He said, “We should get all our institutes, all our academic bodies, as members of the UCC,” and I said, “Well, I am not sure how that would fly.” He said basically to bring the academics under the UCC umbrella—to use the UCC as a venue for bringing them together to work on these common projects— and I think that is one of the issues he is going to be raising today. So it will be interesting to hear the reaction to it.

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen:

I would like to chip in, representing an institution that is by default dealing with the financial question in quite serious terms, because we are smaller. I am representing the University of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Centre for Ukrainian Heritage, which operates with a smaller budget altogether, and I did refer to finances as being a limitation and constraint in our work. Coming back to your comment on finding opportunities and reaching out for them— first, my colleague Bohdan Kordan is very effective in doing that, having set up the centre in the first place, and second, a dimension of this work is geographic distribution of funds and their availability to us if we are locally located.

But historically, we see funding gravitating toward the more established centres, which surround us on both sides. I am not suggesting we need to compete and ask for funds to support what we do in Saskatchewan. What I would like to suggest is to look back at student needs. Over the last 5–7 years, we have been graduating students with theses in Ukrainian-Canadian studies quite systematically and regularly, one year at a time. Our student work is published; it is even included in the lovely bibliography compiled recently by Orest Martynowych on Ukrainian-Canadian scholarship. Two of my students are here in the room, attending the conference on their own without being invited here. We need funding to support student work, because what we do is based on student research. The students accomplish all the work I was referring to. We do not have enough funding to support it. Perhaps CIUS can set up a student fellowship to support Ukrainian-Canadian studies, and in small institutions like ours we will have better access to those funds to bring students on board. Otherwise I am scrambling for funding to support my incoming graduate students because they are just constrained in the wrong ways.

Paul Robert Magocsi:

First, I would like very much to thank the panel, in particular the first two speakers, Natalia Khanenko-Friesen and Lubomyr Luciuk, the first of whom was more theoretical, the second very practical—not practical, experiential, if you will. But really what I want to do is put something on the table that was already alluded to. It reminded me of the time when I published this large history of Ukraine, which was about Ukraine and not about Ukrainians abroad. But I had a very long text insert called “the Ukrainian diaspora.” After I wrote that, I felt that there was something missing, considering that my book was about all the peoples of Ukraine. So I added a second text insert called “Ukraine’s other diasporas.” And here—when much of the discussion has been about the desirability of co-operating, interacting with other groups, and there was reference, briefly, to Mennonites and Jews—the real question is (not only a theoretical and conceptual one but one related to your own pedagogical activity): what is the Ukrainian diaspora? Is it ethnic Ukrainians from Ukraine? Or is it diasporas from the present-day territory of Ukraine?

If you take—and this is a suggestion—if you take the second option, this opens up a wide range of possibilities of drawing into your field a whole host of other interests, which come with funding possibilities. We know that the Mennonites have chairs, and most of those Mennonite chairs come from Ukraine, and their experience in the homeland is Ukrainian. There is the question of Jews, who come from Galicia, the Right Bank, or their parents and their grandparents. I can imagine the endless opportunities. Should you be teaching not only about ethnic Ukrainian activity but also about Mennonites? There is a possibility of cross-influences and bringing a wide range of students, scholars, and others into the fold. We already have a Crimean Tatar community now, certainly in Toronto, who are part of Ukraine, and we should never forget that. So I just put this on the table for those of you who are continuing to work in this field—that your field is probably much larger than you think, and much more relevant than you think.

Frank Sysyn:

Just two suggestions on undertaking research topics. One is that we finally realize the need to emphasize contacts with Ukraine, but what we have to admit is that for a large part of the experience of the Ukrainian-Canadian community, contacts with Ukraine were rather limited. That is a very interesting part of our development, similar to the Baltic groups, to the Lithuanians in the United States, or the Cubans, so close in Miami, right? That is a problem we should also discuss, because it explains so much, I think, about the Ukrainian communities abroad, why they developed.

I am always asked by Polish friends who complain that the Polish communities did not establish academic institutions. My answer always is, “You had Poland.” We did not have Ukraine in a certain sense, so we had to do this.

The second point is whether one can really study the post–World War II immigration solely in a Canadian context. Here I would say that without development of the study of whole DP communities—not only when they were in Germany but also when they arrived in the United States—I fear that what we would do is write them into Canada in a different way than the reality of what their life was. While their children may have gone through a different experience into the 1960s and 1970s, the Toronto I knew and that generation were much more closely connected with New York, in certain ways even with Australia, etcetera. I do not want geography and national categories to take over our study, but it is another way of opening up the subject. Regrettably, because of the poor state of the study of the Ukrainian community in the United States, we may be missing a large part of the experience. I mean, it was Suchasnist’,[5] after all, that was getting read in Toronto and Montreal, and to a degree in Edmonton as well, and yet we are going to have no studies of what was going on south of the border.

Peter Melnycky:

I think something that is missing is any discussion of the public history that is going on in Ukrainian-Canadian studies, whether it be in Manitoba with the Historic Resources Branch, which has done very important work in recording architectural history, or here in Alberta, where we have an entire research and publications program related to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. All this is mainstream government funding, and the work being done there is very important. Somehow I think it is missing from this discussion, that indeed there are other areas where Ukrainian-Canadian studies are taking place that are directly funded by government.

Jars Balan:

We did not address it, and thank you for bringing it up, because it is another area that needs to be understood in the context of Ukrainian-Canadian studies. I would just say to Professor Magocsi that in 1991, when we were celebrating the 100th anniversary of Ukrainians in Canada, I edited a special issue of the literary journal Prairie Fire. We issued a call for papers from anybody with roots in Ukraine—Mennonites, Jews, Poles, and we had all three and more—not just Ukrainians. I think that we have done things—I know of interactions with the Jewish community and the Mennonites as well. There was a conference with Mennonites, Ukrainians, and Jews in Winnipeg years ago. So we are reaching out beyond the narrow ethnic definition of Ukrainians in Canada. I have spoken to a Swedish community, the Swedes in Wetaskiwin: they are part of Ukrainian history and Ukrainian-Canadian history.

Andrij Makuch:

I would like to add that since Ukrainian independence in 1991, it is probably more possible to address what Professor Magocsi said in terms of thinking of Ukraine in geographic terms, not just in terms of Ukrainian ethnicity. So I certainly think that Ukrainian Canadians are perhaps more receptive now to the idea that we should include other groups from Ukraine within the fold.

Lubomyr Luciuk:

A topic that I would like to see the new generation consider is Soviet disinformation about the Ukrainian immigration and diaspora in general. For decades, very stereotypical, inaccurate, provocative descriptions of the post–World War II immigration were provided to journalists and the media and academics around the world, and it still continues to some degree. You see it in the current conflict in Ukraine, the stereotypes about Bandera and UPA and OUN, and so on. I do not think anyone has systematically looked at that, and yet it has created a certain perception of Ukrainians in the West in the public domain, and I think it is a critical problem for our community. Every one of us, I am sure, has come up against it at one point or another. Secondly, I would like to see us consider writing about the redress campaign. It took two and a half decades to reach fruition. The only scholar I am aware of who has written about it in a sort of conceptual way is Ian Radford from the Department of History at the University of Toronto, in a paper in a book published by the U of T Press. That campaign set a standard for addressing historical injustices, and it was in fact largely set by one survivor, Mary Manko Haskett, but also Bohdan Kordan and myself: the notion that one does not ask for an apology, one asks for recognition; and one does not ask for compensation, one asks for symbolic restitution. You make the case about what happened, but you do not necessarily say, “Now pay us for it.” Other communities have taken a different position, and I think comparing the approaches to redressing historical injustice is a very valid and interesting exercise that would echo throughout the First Nations community and other communities who have experienced times of difficulty in the past. Going forward, I think this would be an interesting intellectual exercise.

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen:

Coming back to Professor Magocsi’s commentary on opening up the idea of identity for the Ukrainian-Canadian constituency: in Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, we have seen the community working very hard with the new arrivals from Ukraine, and one of the fascinating observations I have made is the community’s gradual acceptance of the plural makeup of the newcomers. Mostly I refer to the fact that in the provinces we have a special immigration policy separate from the federal, so we have a very steady stream of newcomers. Many have come with Russian as their lingua franca, and it is quite interesting to observe the established Ukrainian-Canadian community in interactions with this newcomer group and see gradual recognition of the complexity of Ukrainian identity. So I am all for inclusiveness and opening up the notion of what Ukrainianness is all about and where Ukrainianness is generated, be it Yugoslavia, Poland, Russia, and so on and so forth.

Jars Balan:

We have been talking about using the latest technology, digitizing things, being cutting-edge about it. One new development, a relatively new one at CIUS, is the archiving of a lot of its publications and materials on our website. So Oleksandr [Pankieiev], if you could just bring up our website? The research reports, the issues of the journals, all of this is becoming digitally accessible to people, so scholars and students from around the world no longer have to try to track down copies or order special things in, or go to special collections to find these publications. I think this is a very exciting development, and we are well aware that this is the way scholarship is evolving in the use of high technology to make it more accessible to people.

[1]    Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (

[2]    A Canadian federal government granting agency, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (

[3]    Balkissoon, D. “Whiteness is a racial construct: It’s time to take it apart,” Globe and Mail, 10 October 2016.


[5]    A monthly journal of literature, history, and current affairs, reflecting a wide spectrum of émigré and Western opinion; published in Munich (1961–90), Newark, NJ (1990–1), and Kyiv (1992–2010, 2012–13).