Lansdowne Park will host the Ukrainian Market on Sunday

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Margaret Maiboroda still has the air raid siren app on her phone.

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It rings, warning that bombs are falling on Ukraine, his homeland, interrupting his discussion on the phone on a more pleasant subject.

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After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the 21-year-old and all of her immediate family, except her father, fled. Maiboroda arrived in Ottawa last month via Poland and the Netherlands. While Maiboroda keeps the app as a reminder of the ongoing horrors in her country, its sinister siren doesn’t dissipate her positivity.

« I have hope that this time everything will be fine, » she said.

The conversation then returns to Maiboroda’s lifelong passion, singing, which today is a balm for the fear of war.

“It makes me feel better,” she says.

That’s why Maiboroda will lend her great a cappella talents to the final event of the Capital Ukrainian Festival on Sunday. The displaced Ukrainian will be among the musicians, artists and vendors taking part in the traditional Ukrainian yarmarok, or market, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lansdowne Park, between the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building.

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Held in partnership with the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, the event marks the festival’s return to in-person gatherings after two summers of virtual programming, even as the invasion of Russia casts a shadow over its celebratory spirit.

“We had to dig deep to rethink what we were going to do this year,” says Jane Kolbe, president and founder of the festival. “We had to reconcile how we were going to bring Ukrainian culture and art to the people – cheerfulness, joy and dance. This had to be reconciled with what was happening on the ground in Ukraine.

“We decided to honor what Ukrainians are fighting for. They are fighting for our identity and our culture. That’s our strength this year,” says Kolbe.

To this end, Maiboroda will sing Ukrainian songs. Other performers include folk instrument maker and musician Roman Tykajlo, polyphonic singing group Kolizhanky, accordionist Larisa Lysenko and Ukrainian-Canadian singer-songwriter-musician-producer Auresia.

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Launched in 2015, the festival took place during weekends in late July before the pandemic, outside the Ukrainian Catholic St. John the Baptist Shrine on Green Valley Crescent. As the only Eastern European festival in Eastern Ontario, the festival quickly exceeded its ambitions. Kolbe talks about participants taking buses from Sudbury to attend and running out of perogies three times a year.

In 2019, the festival drew 30,000 people, featured 550 performers and required the help of more than 250 volunteers, says Kolbe.

If the festival events in 2022 are on a smaller scale, they are also more numerous and are the subject of partnerships with other events. Last month, alongside the festival, Chamberfest held several Ukrainian-themed concerts and offered 50 free tickets to displaced people from Ukraine for its opening show.

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Kolbe says she hopes Sunday’s market will attract Ukrainian newcomers who miss the goods and sounds of their homeland. There are more than 3,500 displaced Ukrainians in Ottawa, she said.

Vendors will include two Ukrainian painters, a children’s illustrator, an artisanal bath and beauty vendor, a honey vendor and Duke Fine Foods, a newly opened Ukrainian grocery store in Bells Corners. Perogies, borscht and sausages will be available on the market.

Although Maiboroda’s English is definitely improving, she says speaking Ukrainian with someone in Ottawa can be very emotional.

« It’s really hot, it’s unbelievable, » she said. “I saw this girl, she was from Ukraine…you know how to communicate everything, you understand everything. You want to kiss this person.

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Sunday’s event follows Ukraine’s Independence Day, August 24. This year, Ukraine celebrates 31 years of independence from Russia. The Ukrainian community will mark the occasion with a picnic Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Vincent Massey Park, Sector H.

Further on, under the auspices of the festival, Ukrainian artists are to hold in-person workshops throughout the fall where they will showcase traditional arts and crafts to attendees. Also, a major Ukrainian New Year’s holiday, called Malanka in Ukrainian, is scheduled for January 14, 2023.

Ukrainian festival in the capital Yarmarok
What: A traditional Ukrainian market with over a dozen vendors, artists and musicians
When: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Landsdowne Park
Admission fee

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