This Saturday will be a very proud day for all Richmondites of Ukrainian descent.
For the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko will be hosting its 80th anniversary celebration at its Francis Road base, close to Railway Avenue.
Although officially formed in 1937, the society’s original building was badly damaged by a fire and re-opened in 1939, hence the big bash at their centre on Saturday at 5 p.m. for past and present members.
And even though their membership is hovering around 75 or so, the society’s president, George Brandak, said it’s sure to be an evening to remember.
“There’s about 80 people coming, there will be Ukrainian dancers and food,” smiled Brandak.
“It’s an important event. It’s meant to recognize the pioneers and the effort they put in; it’s like an appreciation.
“We used have more than 100 members and it is more difficult every year to keep the numbers up. But we have a very active board, who do a magnificent job. It’s a very proud community.”
Brandak, who was born in Regina in 1943, explained how much of Richmond’s Ukrainian heritage comes from the early settlers in The Prairies, where immigrants were tempted to uproot from the mother country with offers of free land to farm.
“The British preferred the long, flat Prairies, we preferred the wooded lands to the north, that was more what we were used to,” he said.
“But then the 1930’s Depression pushed more people West. They could get land out here and they could get jobs at the cannery.
“There was a day when you looked through the phone book for Steveston and there were many, many Slavic names.”