More than 300 people came out to celebrate Ukrainian Culture Fest at the Parksville Community Centre on Jensen Avenue on Sept. 25.
The day began with a Vinok floral headdress-making workshop, which was a hit with the participants, who ranged in age from three to 92, according to a news release by Pattiann Withapea, lead artist and project co-ordinator for BC Culture Days in Parksville.
“Girls, boys, women and men were excited to learn to create their visions,” Withapea said. “Our volunteers were great in handling the crowds.”
Community members from Ukraine were the guests of honour. Many arrived wearing their beautiful traditional garments and were filled with gratitude and emotion, Withapea said.
“The children were so excited to be socializing in an environment that was familiar to them. Their faces said it all.”
In the afternoon, the 30-member Vesna Dancers & Singers troupe performed to an auditorium filled to capacity, with more than 80 people standing after all of the chairs were filled.
Vesna opened the program by singing Ukraine’s national anthem in both Ukrainian and English.
“You could feel the connection between the people and the Ukrainian pride was palpable,” Withapea said. “We were treated to vibrant and colourful folk dances, a comic dance routine, uplifting music, and choir singing that was very moving, causing more than a few to shed tears.”
Sandy’s Ukrainian Kitchen served hot perogies throughout the day. Sandy is known for her dedication to charity work to support the Ukrainian refugees through her “Pickle Jar” donation campaign, which has raised more than $60,000 to support Ukrainians who have moved to the Parksville Qualicum Beach area after the Russian invasion.
As mandated by Canada Culture Days, all events are either free or by donation, according to the release.
“We were very pleased to present all donations to Sandy’s charity efforts,” Withapea said. “So that she can continue collaborating with her network to provide for those who have been forced to flee their homes in Ukraine. Thank you to all who joined us in support of these courageous and grateful people.”
BC Culture Days runs until Oct. 16.
— NEWS Staff, submitted