Four Prince Albert-area residents were recognized this week for their work in promoting Ukrainian culture and traditions at a local event that also recognized volunteers from across the province.
The annual Nation Builders and Community Recognition Awards were handed out Sunday at an event at the Ches Leach Lounge. The annual awards event is hosted by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress of Saskatchewan.
This was the second year in a row the event was hosted in Prince Albert. Four local residents received awards for their efforts in supporting Ukrainian cultural traditions, including Nellie Bachek, Wasyl Rybalka, Iris Smisko and Victoria Stefanyshyn, who was recognized for youth achievement.
Bachek who helped found the Prince Albert Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club and served as president for 16 years, received an award for leadership and cultural preservation and development. Bachek said the award was an honour.
“I don’t know if I really deserved it, because there’s so many others that were involved too,” she said.
Rybalka leads the Veselka Ukrainian Choir, which performs around the community, especially around the Christmas holidays. Rybalka was recognized with an award for Leadership and Cultural Preservation & Development, and credited his parents and family with showing him the importance of preserving his Ukrainian culture.
“It’s who you are,” he added.
Smisko was recognized with an award for volunteerism. An active member of the Veselka-Prince Albert and District Ukrainian Cultural and Heritage Club and around the community, Smisko said she enjoys helping out but said she was moved by the award because of her sister, who passed away from cancer, was a previous award recipient.
“She was also a very good inspiration for me,” Smisko said. ‘I do enjoy what I do and I’m glad that I have been a part of the Ukrainian community and a volunteer for many years and it is very, very rewarding to be so.”
Mary Ann Trischuk, president of UCC Saskatchewan, said Ukrainians have played an important role in the country’s history. This year, the organization unveiled a new award depicting Ukrainian settlement in Canada, with images of the prairies, wheat, the Ukrainian pysanka and the province’s first Ukrainian Catholic Church, built in 1903 near Yorkton.
“I think that I’m so proud of our culture because we have been a part of building our society,” Trischuk said. “There still are so many people that we can recognize, and so many people that have given of themselves.”
Tom Molloy, Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, attended the event in his first official visit to Prince Albert since taking over the role. About 1.5 million Canadians identify as being of Ukrainian descent, Molloy said during his remarks.
On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt
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