The Ukrainians

Learn about Ukrainians in Canada, our history, our culture, and about our namesake, Ivan Franko. As well, our Society helps in many ways, and members are involved in a wide range of activities.

Our Namesake – Ukrainian author, scholar, journalist, and political activist of the 19th century.

Our History – First settlers to BC, and builders of the Ukrainian communities.

Our Culture – Reknown folk-art and folklore, and Ukrainian art.

Our Society – Who we are, and who we support in the community.

Our Namesake

Ivan Franko (1856 – 1916) was a Ukrainian writer, scholar, and patriot. He studied at the University of Lviv, and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Vienna. Franko had a vision that was advanced beyond his time. Ukraine was under the divided rule of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Franko regarded Ukraine as a sovereign entity belonging to the “circle of free nations”.

At the same time, he devoted much attention to the defence of universal human rights, a foreign concept in those days, and was the voice of hope for the freedom of his people in Western Ukraine.
(source: Wikipedia)

Ivan Frankoivan-franko Born August 27, 1856
Died May 28, 1916

Our History

The first Ukrainian pioneers in Richmond followed the vision of their namesake, Ivan Franko, and endeavoured to support and promote their beloved Ukrainian language and culture, and to share it with the greater community.

These first settlers began to arrive from the prairies in the early 1920’s. They established small farms in the southwest part of British Columbia and took jobs in the community. These early pioneers were determined to keep their Ukrainian cultural identity within the larger community.

In 1937 they incorporated “Prosvita,” the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko, and built their first hall on this same site on Francis Road in Richmond. When the structure burned down in 1938, these dedicated pioneers quickly built a new structure in 1939 and dedicated it to the namesake of the Society, and well loved poet, Ivan Franko.

As new immigrants from Ukraine arrived in Richmond after the World War II, the society organized Ukrainian language classes, a choir, a Ukrainian dance ensemble and an amateur theatre, concerts, dances, bazaars and weddings.

In 1985 the society built the Ukrainian Village of Ivan Franko to accommodate low income seniors of Ukrainian and other heritages. In 1986, the old “Prosvita” hall was replaced with a larger, more modern building, and named the Ukrainian Community Centre of Ivan Franko. Successive generations have remained committed to the Society’s original objectives.

Our Culture

Ukraine is the second largest country in Europe, and has a population of forty-seven million people. During long centuries of historical existence the Ukrainian people created their own national, specific culture which is a manifestation and expression of the Ukrainian artistic spirit.

In the course of time different artistic styles and trends appeared in the formation of the Ukrainian culture and were reflected in folk-art and folklore.

Ukrainian Embroideries

Most embroidery patterns are used on clothing. A traditional form of embroidery is used for the shirt (both men and women). Other articles such as towels, kerchiefs, table cloths, sheepskin jackets, cushions, etc., also have embroidered decorations.

Attempts to decorate cloth with embroidery were first inspired by faith in the power of protective symbols and later by aesthetic motives. The Ukrainian embroidery is flourishing strongly in three fields: for church, for folk-rite customs, and for interior decoration.

Easter Festival

Easter is the principal Spring festival and a series of rites have become centered around it. Easter begins with the Easter matins and high mass during which the pasky (the traditional Easter bread) and Easter eggs are blessed in the church. Butter, cheese, sausage, smoked meat, salt, and horseradish are also blessed. After the matins the congregation exchanges Easter greetings and decorated

Easter eggs

Pysanky-Ukrainian Easter Eggs, along with ceramics and embroidery, hold a special place in Ukrainian folk-art because of their artistic level and their symbolic and ritual significance.

The oldest designs for Easter eggs in Ukraine are of an ideographic character. The principal motifs are symbols of the sun represented by triangles, roses, circles and stars. Easter eggs with crosses have a purely Christian significance. In certain parts of Ukraine animal and plant forms are used as decorations for Easter eggs.


The art of wood-carving, both for daily use and for religious purposes, is widespread throughout Ukraine. The oldest hand-carved objects include articles for home and church uses. The most popular specimens of Ukrainian wood-carving are tables, chests, chairs, benches, canes, powder boxes, chandeliers, three-branched candle holders, hand crosses, pictures, frames, etc.

The main motif in the ornamentation of wood-carving is a geometric pattern. Plant or animal motifs are less frequently encountered. The Wood-carvers in the last century started to apply inlaying to wood-carving and for this purpose use brass wires, metal plaques, and coloured beads. Another method of decorating the wooden articles for domestic use is the technique of burning on wood.

Ukrainian Ceramics

In the ornamentation of Ukrainian ceramics, as in the other branches of folk-art, geometric motifs are among the oldest: straight, broken and wavy lines are closely connected with the shape of vessels; plant decorations (grape and oak leaves sunflowers, berries) are associated with land and agriculture.

Ukrainian ceramic designs vary according to region and the uses were both practical (for household vessels and containers), and decorative (tiles in the Hutzul region and decorative stoves in the Kiev, Poltava region). Although there are several regional patterns, the three distinct traditional patterns according to region are: Trypilian; Kiev, Poltava; and, Hutzul.

The white ceramics we often see with a red and black embroidery design on them are not Ukrainian ceramics. The ceramic article comes from Japan or Germany and a decal of Ukrainian embroidery design is applied. These articles are not a handcrafted work of Ukrainian art.

Our Society

The Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko is a registered charitable non-profit society dedicated to preserving and sharing the Ukrainian culture within the Canadian Mosaic.

It is the members who are generous with their time as volunteers that allow events and good works to continue. Friday Night Family Suppers, Pysanky (traditional Ukrainian Easter-egg) Workshops, the Lending Library and Book Club, as well as Ukrainian Dances, Malanka, and other celebrations are all part of the fabric of a successful Ukrainian community group.

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