By Cape Breton Post staff
The Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church held their 100th anniversary celebrations, August 2nd to 5th, 2017.
Those behind the endeavour were Ukrainian immigrants who came to the area in search of work in coal mines and the steel industry.
Although they brought with them their language, customs and beliefs, these new Canadians wanted their own church where they could come together to worship.
Formed on May 22, 1912, the brotherhood held meetings at the home of Michael Fedora, believed to be the first Ukrainian born to arrive in Whitney Pier, to begin plans for a community church.
Monthly membership dues ranging from 25-50 cents per month were the grand fees collected from members whose real contribution was the pouring of their hearts and souls into the creation of a place of worship to call their own.
Less than a month after the first meeting they had 41 new members, $81.26 in the treasury and a committee was searching for suitable land to build the church.
The corner of Swan and West streets was settled on and by November 1913 the church was completed.
The first Ukrainian priest was Fr. Volodmyr Venyaraski from Toronto who only stayed from December, 1912 to March, 1913.
In May 1913, Fr. Yavhan Kracitske was assigned to the parish where he remained until 1925 when Fr. Nicholas Shumski was assigned to the parish for a five-year period.
The first church burned in May 1933, but the present day new church was constructed that same year.
Ukrainian school and folk dancing are part of the legacy of Paul Yavorsky who is said to have instilled a love for heritage, nationality and culture in children during his short stay in the area.
His group of 30 dancers gave concerts for the Red Cross, festival groups and at private events.
That tradition of dancers in the community continues to this day.
Other notable church members include Stephen and Olga Harasowsky who organized a Ukrainian choir which entertained many in the church and the greater community.
The Ukrainian parish community has been an important part of Sydney for the past 100 years, enriching the lives of the Ukrainian people it serves and other members of the local community.
The Ukrainian parish community extended a welcome to everyone who took part in their 100 anniversary celebrations.
The festival was meant to share, educate and bring together the diverse cultures of Cape Breton in an atmosphere of community spirit.
Activities focused on family and included activities for all ages.
A major aspect was a dance with Ukrainian dancing as the main presentation. People of all levels of artistic involvement from the very young to the trained Arkan Dance troup were involved for the four-day festival.
Dance workshops also took place to support excellence and innovation as young people learned from experienced teachers.
The young were encouraged to carry on the Ukrainian culture in future years.
It is hoped that the successful festival will ensure the Ukrainian culture is part of the diverse cultures of Nova Scotia for years to come.
The festival also honoured the Ukrainian pioneers who overcame many obstacles to maintain their heritage while educating and encouraging youth to embrace their culture and show pride in it.
Courtesy of The Cape Breton Post