Chernivtsi Hosts Groundbreaking Canadian Studies Conference in Ukraine

L. to R.: Dr. Roman Yereniuk and Jurij FedykUkraine’s first-ever conference on Canadian Studies was held [a few months ago] at the Yurii Fedkovych National University of Chernivtsi. The landmark event was organized by Dr. Vitalii Makar, director of the University’s Ramon Hnatyshyn Canadian Studies Centre, with financial assistance from the Embassy of Canada in Ukraine. Although 65 papers were scheduled on the conference programme, a number of scholars were unable to attend for various reasons, including the weather, as the Chernivtsi airport was fogged in during the gathering. Among the participants were Canadian Studies scholars from The Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, and Germany - the latter represented by Professor Martin Kuester, Vice President of the Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries. Ukrainian Canadians who took part were Dr. Roman Yereniuk of the Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies at the University of Manitoba; Orysia Tracz from the University of Manitoba Libraries; Jurij Fedyk, the John Yaremko Teaching Fellow at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv; and Dr. Valerii Polkovsky of St. Albert, Alberta, who is currently at the Ostroh Academy National University.

The Kule Ukrainian Canadian Studies Centre (KUCSC) at the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies was represented by Jars Balan. He delivered one of two papers devoted to the renowned artist William Kurelek (1927–1997), whose ancestral roots are in the Bukovynian village of Borivtsi in Kitsman raion. Mr. Balan also chaired two of the academic sessions. In addition to assisting diaspora studies centres at several Ukrainian universities, the KUCSC has been active in supporting the development of Canadian Studies in Ukraine and recently helped coordinate an initial shipment of donated Canadian books to the Hnatyshyn Centre.

L. to R.: Jars Balan and Professor Olha Ivasiuk, National University of ChernivtsiWhile most of the papers dealt with a mixture of comparative analysis, relations between Canada and Ukraine, or strictly Canadian topics like Aboriginal affairs, slightly more than a third was devoted to aspects of the Ukrainian experience in Canada. Several of the Ukrainian students and scholars who took part in the conference, including Taras Lupul, Ivan Patarak, Ihor Kobel, Julia Zayachuk, and Julia Balytska, have spent time in Canada thanks to research grants from CIUS.

His Excellency Daniel Caron, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine, was unable to come to Chernivtsi as originally planned but conveyed greetings through Counsellor Larissa Blavatska. On the morning after the conference, the Embassy’s Program Officer, Inna Tsarkova, gave a well-received workshop on funding opportunities available from sources that sponsor research and publications on Canada. 

Chernivtsi is planning to hold follow-up Canadian Studies conferences on a biennial basis. Another positive sign for the future growth of Canadian Studies in Ukraine was the recent establishment of a program at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy under the direction of Professor Dmytro Mazin. It is also expected that the Ostroh Academy National University will soon announce the inauguration of a third initiative in the field of Canadian Studies. These are welcome developments, as it will soon be possible to create a Canadian Studies Association in Ukraine that would be eligible for additional funding from the Government of Canada. 


1 - L. to R.: Dr. Roman Yereniuk and Jurij Fedyk

2 - L. to R.: Jars Balan and Professor Olha Ivasiuk, National University of Chernivtsi