During the four days of sessions, besides attending to UNA business and electing a new General Assembly, participants enjoyed a variety of events, including a Ukrainian-themed dinner, an evening sing-along with Stan Kosiw on accordion, a concert featuring members of The Toronto Bandurist Capella under the direction of Dr. Victor Mishalow with a meet-and-greet with the performers after the concert, and the convention banquet. At the banquet, Mr. Kaczaraj delivered the keynote address, after his wife, Swiatoslawa Kaczaraj, with piano accompaniment by Dr. Szul, sang the anthem of the UNA. Members of the new General Assembly were officially sworn in during the banquet.
Convention delegates approved a variety of resolutions and recommendations to guide the UNA during the next four years. Among them was this resolution about Ukraine: “Whereas, there is serious trepidation regarding the current geopolitical crisis in Ukraine, and whereas, the current events in Ukraine represent a serious threat to the recent progress toward democracy in Ukraine, and the continued existence of Ukraine itself, and whereas, Ukraine is a crucial strategic partner of the United States, Canada and Europe, be it resolved the Executive Committee of the UNA speak out on behalf of Ukraine and its democratic aspirations and on an ongoing basis establish contact with the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada, all members of the U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament, as well as the Embassies of Ukraine in the U.S.A. and Canada, to resolutely convey opposition to all anti-democratic efforts of the Ukrainian and Russian governments as permitted by current law. Be it further resolved that the UNA’s president, as well as members of the General Assembly, continue to be integral members of ongoing delegations meeting with government officials to voice their concerns regarding the future relationship between the U.S.A., Canada and Ukraine as permitted by current law.”
A major event for the UNA and its Soyuzivka Heritage Center is the annual Ukrainian Cultural Festival held in July. Headlining this year’s event were rock sensation and National Artist of Ukraine Oleh Skrypka and violin virtuoso Vasyl Popadiuk with his world-renowned Papa Duke band. Pop star/activist Ruslana, “The Voice of the Maidan,” was the special guest at the 2014 Ukrainian Cultural Festival, which honored Ukraine’s struggle for democracy and Kyiv’s Euro-Maidan. The eighth annual festival, held July 11-13, was one of the most successful ever. More than 5,000 guests traveled that weekend to Soyuzivka, located in the scenic Shawangunk Mountains, or as Mr. Skrypka put it, in the “stateside Karpaty.”
Mr. Popadiuk performed his energetic “Gypsy World Fusion” music along with the Papa Duke band. They were later joined on stage by Mr. Skrypka, who sang and played alternately on guitar, horn and bayan. A founder of the legendary rock band Vopli Vidopliasova, Mr. Skrypka gifted the audience his special brand of Ukrainian ethno-rock music that had fans dancing on the festival grounds. The performance was a unique collaboration prepared especially for the Soyuzivka festival.
In keeping with the 2014 festival theme, “Spirit of the Maidan,” the dynamic Ruslana created a mini-Maidan on the Soyuzivka grounds. She appeared with four of her equally dynamic dancers in a high-energy performance that harkened back to her first performance at Soyuzivka’s festival in 2009.
Also on the bill was a festival favorite, the Roma Pryma Bohachevsky Dance Workshop, which is held at Soyuzivka, as well as the visiting Rusalka Dance Ensemble from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Sofia Fedyna, the voice of Lviv’s Euro-Maidan, internationally renowned master bandurist Victor Mishalow, the young bandurist Bogdan Shutka and the Dumka Chorus of New York rounded out the program, which comprised three concerts.