Ukrainian Independence Day celebration takes over square outside city hall

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Many bystanders of the Ukrainian Independence Day celebration at City Hall carried flags of both Ukraine and Canada

Rain and thunder did not dampen the celebrations of Ukrainian Independence Day in front of City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

Ukrainian Independence Day has been celebrated every year on August 24 since the Ukraine was first declared independent from the Soviet Union in 1991. Festivities in Prince Albert included performers such as the Veselka Ukrainian Cultural Club choir, dancers from the Prince Albert Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club and speeches from MP Randy Hoback, MLAs Alana Ross and Joe Hargrave and Al Ducharme from the Prince Albert Grand Council.

The Memorial Square in front of City Hall was dedicated as Ukrainian Independence Square for the day.

The ongoing war in Ukraine began in February of 2022 when the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine. According to Reuters, approximately 17 million people have been displaced by the war and more then 60,000 people have died.

Kristina Tulchynskaja, who is originally from Kyiv and works for the Prince Albert YWCA as a settlement advisor, says Ukrainian Independence Day will always have special meaning.

“We have our day, (the) 24th of August when Ukraine was called for the first time in history independent. We are independent. No one can take our independence from us. The day of our win, it will be just the day of celebration of the win that Ukraine kept her independence. But no one took our independence and never will.”

More than 90 families have fled the war in Ukraine and settled in Prince Albert. Small items such as soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo or conditioner can be dropped off at MLA Alana Ross’ office to help support Ukrainian families in Prince Albert. Monetary donations can be directed to Calvary United Church.

Tulchynskaja says she is surprised with the number of Ukrainian families that have relocated to Prince Albert.

“When people (are) Googling Canada or trying to find out some information about Canada, they see big towns (like) Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and others. I’m sure that half of Ukrainians families who are staying in Ukraine now know what Prince Albert means, there is a great small town in Saskatchewan, and we make this town famous a little. I’m proud of all people who didn’t (get) scared of a long road and came here and they never regret (it) because in Prince Albert, we have a really great Ukrainian community.”

Tulchynskaja says Ukrainian Independence Day has more meaning to her with the ongoing war with Russia.

“Of course, it is (more special). This war shows us how thin independence is. How easy someone can try to keep it from you. So yeah, it’s more special because we need to save it, protect it and bring to our kids. It’s more special for me, I can’t talk about on behalf of everyone but for me, yes.”