Saskatoon

Saskatoon's Ukrainian community celebrates heritage, milestones Saturday

More than a century of Ukrainian culture and tradition was celebrated Saturday at Saskatoon's Kiwanis Park - and a super celebration was in the cards to mark a number of milestones during the 14th annual Ukrainian Day in the Park.

More than 7,000 took in the festivities at Saskatoon's Kiwanis Park

By mid-afternoon, organizers estimated about 7,000 people walked through the gates for Ukrainian Day in the Park. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

More than a century of Ukrainian culture and tradition was celebrated Saturday at Saskatoon's Kiwanis Park - and a super celebration was in the cards to mark a number of milestones during the 14th annual Ukrainian Day in the Park. 

2016 is the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada, the 100th anniversary if the of the Mohyla Institute and the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. 

"It is just a super celebration year," event chair David Prokopchuk said. "We have more food vendors, more souvenir vendors, more of everything this year. It is just awesome."

Along with the food, attendees were treated to an afternoon of music, dance, displays and more. 
A citizenship ceremony was held in Saskatoon Saturday, with 30 people taking their oath of Canadian citizenship (CBC )

The event also held a citizenship ceremony on Saturday, another first for Ukrainian Day in the Park. Thirty people took the oath of Canadian citizenship at a mid-afternoon ceremony in front of thousands. 

More than 7,000 people walked through the gates and  Prokopchuk estimated attendance would come close to the record-setting 10,000 mark that was set at the event's 10th anniversary. He attributed the event's gaining popularity to an increased interest from city residents. 
Long lines for the various food and drink vendors at the 2016 Ukrainian Day in the Park in Saskatoon. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

"We seem to have gotten across the idea that we want to welcome everyone here and share our culture with you," Prokopchuk said. 

"When I see the dedication, the hundreds of hours the volunteers put in whether it is maintaining Ukrainian culture or helping in events like this, it makes one very proud to be part of that community," he added. "The Ukrainian culture is very, very strong here in Saskatchewan."

Thirteen per cent of Saskatchewan residents can trace part of all of their ancestry to Ukraine, according to statistics released earlier this year by the provincial government. In Saskatoon, Prokopchuk said that number lies at 17 per cent and continues to grow. 
The 14th annual Ukrainian Day in the Park included plenty of music, dance, food and cultural displays. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

And it's changing. Prokopchuk said two-thirds of the event's board are new immigrants to Canada who have been in the country for ten years or less. 

"They are amazed at how much of the language and culture are retained here," Prokopchuk said. 

2016 was proclaimed the year of Saskatchewan Ukrainians by the province in January. 

An evening social was planned for Saturday evening with Ukrainian rock band Klooch from Toronto. 

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