From the Director

After the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, winter is a special time for reflection and the exchange of stories and ideas. At the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, we extend a warm invitation to all visitors seeking opportunities for contemplation, delight, and exploration during the coldest months of the year. While we are committed to community-building throughout all seasons, this winter we stand as a place of solace for those whose hearts are burdened by the enduring hardships in Ukraine, where the defense against Russia’s assault will soon enter its third year.

As a relatively new team at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada, many of our dedicated staff members are on the brink of celebrating their second anniversaries. To all our members who have generously supported our endeavours to rebuild this institution, we extend heartfelt gratitude. Our work at the museum is a labour of love, and we are uplifted daily by the legacy of those who devoted their hearts and souls to the museum’s mission through the decades before us. Your contributions of funding, volunteer efforts, advice, and moral support are invaluable.

A vibrant mix of events, exhibitions, and cultural initiatives is unfolding at the museum this Winter, and we invite you to join us in celebrating the spirit of community, heritage, and discovery. The Songs of Our Ancestors, a creatively re-imagined presentation of the museum’s permanent collection, continues with some exciting modifications. We are pleased to announce the temporary addition of Enemy Aliens – Internment in Canada, 1914-1920, an exhibition on loan from the Canadian War Museum. This nationally touring presentation brings profound depth to our narrative of early settler experiences, shedding light on a chapter in our nation’s history that still remains unknown to many Canadians.

In our front gallery, we present Threads of Home: Transformations in Ukrainian Domesticity, a presentation of embroidered podushky (pillows) from our permanent collection. Intricately embroidered with traditional and modern Ukrainian designs, the podushky in this exhibition are used to punctuate a timeline of artifacts related to evolving ideas of home for Ukrainian Canadians.

We are also thrilled to present the museum’s first two artist-in-residence projects! This is a new initiative aimed at nurturing dynamic conversations between contemporary artists from diverse backgrounds and the holdings of our permanent collection. Our first two artists in the residency program are Steph Krawchuk and Amalie Atkins.

In 2024, the Ukrainian Museum of Canada is embarking on the process of building relationships and reconciliation with First Nations and Métis communities. Thanks in part to a Multicultural Initiatives grant from SaskCulture, a Stasiuk Award for the Study of Indigenous-Ukrainian Relations, and a gift from the JOTEL Family Fund (Tom, Joanne, Oksana, Lars, and Evan Kishchuk), the museum will be hosting a series of internal and public conversations related to Ukrainian-Indigenous relations, including shared cultural practices and beliefs, and stories from mixed Ukrainian-Indigenous families. Please keep your eyes on our website and social media for more information on public programs, workshops, and exhibitions related to this initiative.

As I write this, Russia’s assault on Ukraine continues. It is important that the Ukrainian Museum of Canada helps keep this ongoing tragedy top-of-mind for the broader public. To this end, the museum is partnering with the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, Thomas More College; and the Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan to bring the renowned Ukrainian cultural activist, ethnologist, museologist, curator, and Director of the National Museum of Revolution of Dignity (Maidan Museum), Kyiv, to Saskatoon for an important public speaking engagement in March.

In both Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora, the imperative to showcase and promote Ukrainian heritage has never been more pressing. Throughout my travels, particularly during my attendance at the Consortium of Ukrainian Heritage Organizations of North America’s biennial meeting in Detroit in fall 2023, I have consistently marveled at the paramount role played by the Ukrainian Museum of Canada in preserving the heritage and culture of Ukrainians in Canada. The museum is, unequivocally, too essential to be lost.

Therefore, in the upcoming year and beyond, the museum will focus on fortifying the financial foundation that underpins our mission, ensuring the museum’s enduring vitality. This involves diversifying revenue streams and fostering strategic partnerships within our community and beyond. In this endeavour, we will rely on our loyal and longstanding members to help promote the museum and our fundraising efforts.

By cultivating a culture of financial resilience, we strive not only to safeguard our cultural heritage but also to secure the museum’s lasting impact for generations to come. Your ongoing support is pivotal in this endeavour, and we extend an invitation for you to join us in securing a financially robust future, enabling us to continue the celebration and preservation of our rich cultural legacy.

Finally, we pay tribute to two beloved, recently departed longstanding members who chose to leave lasting legacies at the museum, and for which we are profoundly grateful. Our heartfelt tributes go to Audrey Sojonky and Alice Nicholaichuk. Вічная Пам’ять!

On behalf of the staff and Board of the museum, I wish you all the best for 2024.

– Jen Budney, Executive Director and CEO