Capital Ukrainian Festival Proves Special to Newcomers

By Jake Munro

Over 300 heads of cabbage, almost 2,600 cabbage rolls filled, one ton of caramelized onions, and 500 litres of sour cream were prepared for Canada’s capital city’s Ukrainian festival, as celebrating the culture’s wonderful delicacies was front and centre.

“This is the year we’re really focusing on our food. As you can see, it’s a huge part of us and really builds community,” said Jane Kolbe, the festival’s communications lead, as she gestured towards the small army of volunteers that were busy singing in perfect unity while wrapping cabbage rolls for the festival. 

“The singing is very moving. We love to share our cultures with others, and this is what it is – happiness and gathering,” Kolbe continued. 

Capital Ukrainian Festival, one of Ottawa’s premiere cultural festivals, had itself a successful fifth year over the weekend of July 19-21, continuing the success it has experienced over its five year run. 

Ottawa’s cultural festivals are often visited by an enormous variety of people, but to newcomers to Canada, these festivals that celebrate their culture can mean a lot more to them than the average valued festie. 

Vilyen Pidgornyy is one of these newcomers. He, his wife, and his two-year-old son moved to Canada in April of 2018, partly because he believes Canada can offer more opportunities for his son. It didn’t take him very long to discover the Capital Ukrainian Festival, as two of his friends invited him to the festival just a few months after moving to Ottawa. 

“They invited me to the Ukrainian Festival to experience a little bit of Ukraine here in Ottawa, and I agreed, came to the festival, saw lots of people coming to the festival, including lots of members of the Canadian-Ukrainian community volunteering at the festival, and I really loved it,” said Pidgornyy, who volunteers as a media professional for the Capital Ukrainian Festival. 

To Pidgornyy, seeing Ukrainian culture celebrated outside of the Ukraine, where he says Russian influence has affected their culture over the years, was really awesome to see. 

“It strikes you how rich and how diverse Ukrainian culture and tradition is and has been for decades here in Canada,” said Pidgornyy. “Here, you can see what Ukrainian culture and traditions used to be back in the 1920s and 1930s.” 


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A super fun performance by #Kleztory from Montreal. 🎶🎶🎶 on our @ucuykc main stage at #OCUF2019 #klezmer

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Because of facts like these, the Canadian resident views the Capital Ukrainian Festival as extremely important to the Ukrainian Community in Ottawa – especially to newcomers to the city. 

“Me, as a newcomer, saw this not just as a cultural event… The festival is the place where you get to meet lots of new people. You can introduce yourself and establish a lot of networking,” said Pidgornyy. 

“If you volunteer you also get to know people from the professional side, which also helps in the job search, and that is very important for the people who are looking for jobs and especially the newcomers because they have to establish themselves here as an active member of society, as a person who is responsible, and that’s probably one of the best ways to do it,” Pidgornyy continued. 

With another successful year in the books for Capital Ukrainian Festival, here’s to hoping festivalgoers had an amazing time and Ukrainian newcomers found themselves a nice slice of home to enjoy themselves in their new country.  

To learn more about what Capital Ukrainian Festival is about, make sure to visit their website and social media!

Instagram: @capukrfestival

Twitter: @CapUkrFestival

Facebook: @CapUkrFestival