Celebrating Ukrainian Heritage & Art

Posted On Wednesday September 06, 2023

Keyano College is celebrating Ukrainian Heritage Day on September 7, 2023. This day of significance allows students and staff to honour the contributions of Ukrainians across Canada.

In the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine, many Ukrainian citizens and returning Canadian permanent residents of Ukrainian origin have sought refuge in Fort McMurray and Canada. These Ukrainians have enriched the diversity on Keyano’s campus while emphasizing the importance of cultural heritage and its role in providing solace during difficult times.

“My Ukrainian heritage is incredibly important, especially while living away from my homeland. It’s a way for me to keep my roots alive and pass them down to my son,” says Nataliia Slobodianiuk, a current LINC student at Keyano College.

“The representation of Ukrainian culture here at Keyano has been fantastic. It’s heartening to see our traditions recognized at cultural events throughout the year.”

While August 24 marks Ukraine’s 32nd independence anniversary, its history extends thousands of years. To Slobodianiuk, these millennia-old traditions are what define her Ukrainian identity.

On September 23, 2023, the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program will host a Language of Art Show. LINC is a free English program funded by the federal government (IRCC) for Permanent Residents, Convention Refugees, and Protected Persons. The art show aims to showcase students’ talent and forge connections with local artists. It will also feature the works of Slobodianiuk and other international students.

Through her art, Slobodianiuk preserves the traditions that define the Ukrainian people. “My creations reflect my worldview and values. Whether it’s through paintings or clothing, Ukrainian art sets us apart globally,” she says.

Slobodianiuk draws inspiration from Ukraine’s natural beauty, incorporating vibrant colors, intricate patterns, and serene landscapes from her upbringing. “In my artwork, I aim to capture a sense of calmness and hope – a wish for the war’s end in Ukraine so that our people can experience life again. I believe that the nature of my homeland echoes the Canadian landscape through their similarities, which I have infused into my work entitled Kristaliia,” she explains.

“I am very excited for the Language of Art Show this September,” she says. “It is a unique opportunity to see how multinational the college community is and how many talented students from different parts of the world study at Keyano. I hope being part of the show will help others to see another piece of Ukrainians besides only hearing about the war.  The war is often discussed in the news, but we must remember that Ukrainians have a rich culture that precedes this.”  

Slobodianiuk will sell flower-shaped soaps at the opening reception and hopes to see many attendees at the show for an evening of cultural diversity and the sharing of creative ideas.



ARTIST BIO: Nataliia Slobodianiuk came to Canada in August 2022 with her son. She joined the LINC program last fall and will be returning this year. She holds two educational diplomas: one from Kyiv Industrial Technical College and one from the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management, where she majored in Financial Management. Recently, she has decided to open a pet store independently through online platforms while enrolled in LINC and has plans to further her education in Canada.