Ukraine 101

Ukrainian Independence

Every year at the end of August Lamont County hosts a unique event, the Babas & Borshch Ukrainian Festival. Its timing coincides with the celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day, and the festival represents a testimony to and a celebration of Ukrainian heritage on the Alberta prairies.

On 24 August 1991, Ukraine proclaimed its independence from the then collapsing Soviet Union, and began building its new future as a sovereign state. The road to Ukraine’s independence has been long and difficult: it took dozens of years and numerous sacrifices to win it from the occupying totalitarian regimes.

Earlier in the century, Ukraine had proclaimed its independence as early as January 1918, but was soon overrun by the armies of Communist Russia. In June 1941, Ukraine once again attempted to proclaim its independence, but this attempt was crushed by the occupant authorities of Nazi Germany.

As we see nowadays, Ukraine’s struggle for true independence continues. However, Ukrainians are fighting for a just cause and will become victorious with the help from the entire civilized world.

INTERNMENT CAMPS Because of Who They Were

Canada’s First National Internment Operations 1914-1920

Even though there was never any evidence of disloyalty on their part, thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans were imprisoned needlessly and forced to do heavy labour in 24 internment camps located in the country’s frontier hinterlands during Canada’s first national internment operations.

Tens of thousands of others, designated “enemy aliens,” were obliged to carry identity documents and report regularly to the police. Many were subjected to other state sanctioned indignities, including disenfranchisement, restrictions on their freedom of speech, movement and association, deportation and the confiscation of what little wealth they had, some of which was never returned.

This happened even though the British Foreign Office informed Ottawa that these eastern Europeans were “friendly aliens” who should be given “preferential treatment.” These men, women and children suffered not because of anything they had done but only because of who they were, where they had come from.

Reprinted with permission Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund
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DUCIVA (Descendants of Ukrainian Canadian Internee Victims Association)

Group members worked independently, gathering information about the illegally imprisoned Ukrainians during WW1. Some members were actively collecting data starting in the 1980's. A chance meeting of four committee members at the Ukrainian Village in 2001 was the beginning of DUCIVA. School curriculums now include Ukrainian Internment because of the pressure by dedicated members for recognition and their commitment for education.

Taras Shevchenko

Babas & Borshch Ukrainian Festival is pleased to honour the life and work of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s greatest poet and artist.
• Born March 9, 1814 at Moryntsi, Ukraine to Kateryna & Hryhoriy Shevchenko
• Orphaned at age 11, he worked as a houseboy and domestic servant
• His artistic talent was evident early; by age 15 he was studying painting
• His freedom from serfdom was bought by benefactors in 1838 and he began formal art training at the Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg
• By 1840 his first and most famous collection of poetry Kobzar (Minstrel) appeared
• In 1847 he was arrested by Russian police for anti-tsarist, politically subversive writings and sentenced to 25 years military service and exile and ordered to stop writing, drawing, & painting
• During imprisonment he continued to write poems which he hid in his boot
• A series of arrests and releases continued until his death on March 10, 1861 at the age of 47
• He produced over 1000 works of art.

He is considered one of the most outstanding realist painters of mid-19th century Ukrainian art, founder of new Ukrainian literature and one of the greatest humanist writers of all time
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Ukrainian Flag

Adopted in 1992
Consists of two equal horizontal stripes
Blue represents the colour of the sky, streams and mountains of Ukraine
Yellow symbolizes the golden fields of wheat.  


Pronounced “treh-zoob” is ‘the’ symbol of Ukraine. Today it adorns the flag, postage, currency, business logos and pysanky. It began as the family crest of a tenth century prince, Volodymyr. Today it symbolizes national pride and the Christian trinity.

Ukrainian National Anthem (translated)

Written by Pavlo Chubynsky, a scientist & poet in 1862

Ukraine is Not Yet Dead
Ukraine is not yet dead, nor it's glory and freedom,
Luck will still smile on us brother-Ukrainians.
Our enemies will die, as the dew does in the sunshine,
And we, too, brothers, we'll live happily in our land.
We'll not spare either our souls or bodies to get freedom
And we'll prove that we brothers are of Kozak kin.
We'll rise up, brothers, all of us, from the Sain to the Don,
We won't let anyone govern in out motherland.
The Black Sea will smile yet, grandfather Dnipro will rejoice,
Yet in our Ukraine luck will be high.
Our persistence, our sincere toil will prove it's rightness,
Still our freedom's loud song will spread throughout Ukraine.

It'll reflect upon the Carpathians, will sound through the steppes,
And Ukraine's glory will arise among the people.


The Holodomor famine-genocide of 1932-33 was an unparalleled act of peacetime aggression against the Ukrainian people. Millions of Ukrainians were killed by the deliberate actions of the Joseph Stalin-led communist Soviet Union. It was an attempt to crush the spirit of an entire nation by depriving innocent families of their basic needs for survival and by imprisoning (or executing) political leaders, academics and clergy.

Shrouded in secrecy for decades, it's only with the de-classification of documents in more recent years that the world has finally started to learn the true magnitude of this horrific crime. It is vital that this tragedy is never forgotten, as this is the best hope against history repeating itself. Each November, events are held across the world to remember this dark chapter of Ukrainian history.