Back to the Future:  The Ukrainian Canadian Immigrant Experience

Date: July 20-24, 2009
Inspiration: Ottawa photographer William James Topley’s 1911 image of a Ukrainian family in sheepskin clothing on a train platform in Quebec City creates a puzzle for a brother and sister to solve as they clean out their Baba and Dido’s homestead in Weyburn, Saskatchewan…
Highlights: Field trip to Library & Archives Canada becoming archivists, learning & seeing original photographs of immigration to Canada; Stylized camper portraits as immigrants in the recreation of the Karsh Photo Studio; personal digital cameras to capture campers’ world at home and about; painted sketches of immigrant families;  singing  a world premiere “Epic Song for Canada”; social dancing Western Ukrainian Canadian style.

Held from July 20-24, 2009 in Ottawa Canada, “Back to the Future:  The Ukrainian Canadian Immigrant Experience” was inspired by the 1911 William Topley photograph of a Ukrainian family in sheepskin clothing standing on a train platform in Quebec City.  An original Pokrova story unfolds on a Saskatchewan homestead as a brother and sister sit in the attic of their grandparent’s farmhouse exploring the treasures and relationships of generations of Ukrainian immigrants.  From Terry Sawchuk, to LUBA, to red fife wheat, the ties that bind immigrants to those ‘men’ in sheepskin coats resonate across the land.

In 2009, Pokrova Camp reached across generations to tell and show the impact of Ukrainian immigrants to Canada’s history.  A field trip to the Library and Archives of Canada with a program specially designed for Pokrova kids showcased original archival photos of immigrant families from across Eastern Europe from before the turn of the 21st century.   At the Portrait Gallery of Canada’s Karsh Studio, Pokrova took unique portraits of children dressed in period costume.  From photographing their own experience with digital cameras provided through a grant from the City of Ottawa (and later donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa), painting charcoal sketches, performing Western Ukrainian Canadian dance steps and social dancing, to holding a world premier of an Epic Song for Canada, “Back to the Future”

37 children from North America posed, played, painted, shot, built, sang and danced to celebrate the pioneering legacy of Ukrainian immigration to Canada.

Pokrova Camp’s Honourary Patron was the Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, Ihor Ostash.