By Theodora Macleod
Southern Alberta Newspapers
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ukrainian culture has been a vibrant thread in the tapestry of southern Alberta for many years. A new exhibit at the Galt Museum captures a snapshot of the immense impact Ukrainian Canadians have had on southern Alberta.
Transplanted Sunflowers, which officially opened Oct. 16, looks at the second, third and fourth waves of Ukrainian immigration which span from the period following the First World War to present day.
The exhibition highlights seven community members who have left a legacy. Included in that seven are the Gushul family of Ukrainian photographers who immigrated in 1906 and settled in the Crowsnest pass, as well as Vic Stasiuk, a former NHL player and coach who was one-third of the Boston Bruins’ “Uke Line” named for the shared Ukrainian heritage of Stasiuk and his line mates Johnny Bucyk and Bronco Horvath.
Beyond the big names, the exhibit aims to explore the influence Ukrainian culture has had on the community while welcoming newly immigrated Ukrainians, demonstrating the long line of Ukrainian Canadians they join.
Hannah Yuzwa, former archives records assistant at the Galt Museum, and current archives assistant Bobbie Fox, co-curated the display. The idea came to them while discussing the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The pair began their research around April 2022. “I think this is a very timely exhibit,” says Yuzwa. “Just because of everything going on in the world right now.”
The exhibit does not shy away from the complicated history between Canada and Ukrainians. Instead, it includes mention of the internment camps during the First World War that imprisoned “enemy aliens,” a term used to describe those who had immigrated from countries who were at war with the British Empire. One of those internment camps was located on the Lethbridge Exhibition grounds.
Featuring footage of traditional Ukrainian dancers and costumes, the exhibit combines the history of the southern Alberta community while, in association with Project Sunflower Aid Society – a local organization that supports displaced Ukrainians in establishing themselves in Canada, acknowledging the ongoing challenges Ukraine is facing,
“Museums have the great opportunity to talk about topics that are very prevalent and very felt by our community,” says Yuzwa.
‘Transplanted Sunflowers: The Ukrainian Immigrant Experience in Southern Alberta, 1940s to Present’ will run at the Galt Museum to April 7.