Manitoba

Manitoba's Ukrainian community shows its support at 2 benefit concerts

Dance ensembles and choral performances from various Ukrainian groups in Manitoba filled the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre for a pair of Stand for Ukraine Benefit Concert performances in front of two sold-out crowds Sunday in Winnipeg.

'It’s been an extremely emotional time for anybody that has roots in Ukraine,' says Hoosli singer

Members of the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble perform during the first of two Stand for Ukraine benefit performances at the Seven Oaks Performance Centre on Sunday. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Manitoba's Ukrainian community turned out in full force on the weekend for a pair of concerts showcasing the nation's culture.

Dance ensembles and choral performances from various Ukrainian groups in the province filled the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre for a pair of Stand for Ukraine benefit concerts in front of two sold-out crowds Sunday in Winnipeg.

In addition to the 526 tickets quickly snapped up for each show, hundreds more tuned in via the livestream set up by organizers.

"The response has been amazing," said event organizer Carina Romagnoli. "I am at a complete loss for words for how amazing the Manitoba community is in supporting this event."

Romagnoli, who also chairs Troyanda Ukrainian Dance, said all funds raised from the two events would go toward humanitarian efforts in Ukraine following the Russian military invasion in February.

She said the concerts might go down as among the most important ones for the Ukrainian dancers, singers and artists that performed.

Carina Romagnoli, chair of Troyanda Ukrainian Dance, helped organize a pair of Stand for Ukraine performances. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

"We are dancing for the people of Ukraine, for their sovereignty and for their safety," Romagnoli said, as tears swelled in her eyes.

Locals felt 'very helpless'

Like many of the performing dancers, singers and artists, Liliya Medyinska has family living in the war-torn country.

Medyinska, who is a member of the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, is still coming to terms with Russia's actions in Ukraine, but she wanted to provide support.

"A lot of us felt very helpless when we learned about the invasion in Ukraine, so being able to come together with the community and a lot of the local performing groups here is really important to us," she said.

"Being able to do this and celebrate our culture when it's in jeopardy right now during the invasion makes it really heartwarming to see the community come together, and really try to do something to help our fellow Ukrainians back home."

Liliya Medyinska  is a member of the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, and she has family who is living in war-torn Ukraine. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Medyinska admitted she didn't expect to see anything short of sold-out shows because of the tremendous support Winnipeggers and Manitobans have shown for the Ukrainian community.

Greg Udod is part of the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus. Like Medyinska, he believes the concerts provided an opportunity for the local Ukrainian community to express their emotions through performance. 

"This is an extremely emotional event as it's been an extremely emotional time for anybody that has roots in Ukraine or family that is still in Ukraine," Udod said.

Greg Udod is part of the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

"We're trying to go on with life as it is, but life changed over the past five or six weeks since the invasion. Everything now kind of has this cloud of worry and concern and sadness about what's happening in Ukraine."

He believes Canada Life Centre could have possibly sold out if the performances were held in the downtown Winnipeg arena.

With files from Walther Bernal

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