Winnipeg school celebrating Ukrainian heritage to make newcomer students feel at home

‘I can feel like I’m at home.’ Ukrainian newcomers are getting a reminder of the country they were forced to leave behind as their new school puts on a musical about Ukrainian heritage. Mike Albanese reports.

By Mike Albanese

Ukrainian Canadians and Ukrainian newcomer students at Immaculate Heart of Saint Mary School are having a week of Ukrainian heritage – including a musical about a wedding that’s making students who immigrated during the war feel at home.

“We do have a number of children from Ukraine, I think right now we have over 50. To put on an event like this where we can celebrate our culture, celebrate our tradition, folklore, heritage – it not only teaches the children some of the traditions but as a community, it unites us,” explained Rod Picklyk, principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary School.

Ukrainian newcomer students at Immaculate Heart of Saint Mary School are having a week of Ukrainian heritage. (Photo Credit: Mike Albanese, CityNews)

“It’s powerful, and as much as we as a school have tried to provide for them, they have given back tenfold, many of them have key roles in today’s performance, and it continues to teach them about our rich Ukrainian culture and hopefully gives them a sense of comfort despite the challenges in their lives over the past year.”

Bohdan Kuchmenko is a grade 6 student from Kyiv. He plays a matchmaker in the performance, someone who would have been pivotal in uniting the two to be married.

“In this wedding, we pretend we are in Ukraine – we have so many guests and we are very happy about it!” said Kuchmenko. “That’s very happy for me, because I’m going to remember the history, my national language, and in the future I’ll be old and I’ll remember how that work.

“In first few days it was very hard, I don’t understand, and then I start to understand lessons, remember teachers, find friends and get very good progress.”

Vladyslav Abramiak on the left, Bohdan Kuchmenko on the right. (Photo Credit: Mike Albanese, CityNews)

Vladyslav Abramiak is in grade 5 and is from Ivano-Frankivsk. He says the sights and sounds of this mock wedding bring memories of home. A home he was heartbroken to leave.

“I was one time at a wedding, now I’m feeling like I’m at home, that’s very getting my mood up,” explained Abramiak.

“I’m leaving my country, that’s difficult for me because I have friends there, I was playing Ukrainian instruments. It was so good to me but now there is war and I can’t go back, it was very sad for me,” said Abramiuk. “I think everyone who watches this is going to be glad that we have Ukrainian culture in Canada too.”

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