History: The Roaring Nineties

The Roaring Nineties

The Declaration of Independence of Ukraine in 1991 drastically changed the popular mood. Ukraine and Ukrainian topics were at the forefront of the world agenda, and the club flourished under increased attention. Membership nearly tripled as a consequence of Ukrainian-Canadians’ renewed awareness of their Ukrainian roots and the Club finally renewed its registration in 1991. Re-establishing business and cultural connections with independent Ukraine became one of the Club’s main priorities in the 1990s. These priorities were reflected in the selection of speakers at dinner meetings, who made presentations on everything from investment in Ukraine to Ukrainian springtime traditions. Connections with Ukraine focused not only on business; one popular event featured Olympic figure skater Victor Petrenko.

The nineties were a whirlwind of activity and development. The focus was on business, on fun, on heritage. In addition to regular monthly dinner meetings, the Club organized many special events, both for its own members and for the community at large. Particularly popular and successful were the Presidents’ Balls. These were started in the eighties but reached their creative apogee in the nineties as themed balls with creative decorations and entertainment drew inspiration from Ukrainian history and culture. Some memorable themes from the nineties include: Night of Kupalo, 100 years of Ukrainians in Canada, Night of the Kozaks, Golden Kyiv, Enchanted Evening, and Ukrainian Music. Picnics, BBQ’s and potlucks rounded out the social schedule.

Although the Club certainly put on its share of social events, it also took its responsibility for community development seriously. As an example, the Club was a founding member and original sponsor of the Echoes of Ukraine TV program. Ukrainian performing groups such as Tryzub Dance Ensemble received sizeable donations. The issue of World War I Internment, then not as well recognized as it is today, received attention as well. The Club organized a photo exhibit about the internment operations and toured it throughout Alberta.

There was also a focus on cultural events and the arts. Yearly Christmas carol festivals, with participation of all Ukrainian community choirs, were started in the mid-nineties, a tradition that continues to this day. Special events held at the Glenbow Museum showcased Christmas and Easter – Ukrainian-style – for the general public and a St. Andrew’s Eve fortune-telling event at St. Stephens attracted large numbers of participants. UCPBA sponsored art shows in both Calgary and Banff and organized a Ukrainian class for adults.

The late nineties saw the establishment of scholarships and awards to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and to support the aspirations of individuals within our community. At this time also, UCPBA Calgary reached out to a younger demographic by adding a student representative to its Executive Committee. Ties with sister organizations were also strong at this time, as was the National Federation itself. Calgary hosted an extremely successful biennial UCPBA Federation convention in 1995.

History continued: A New Century
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