Veselka sign a long time coming

Tyler Clarke
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After more than a decade’s worth of red tape and a broken verbal agreement, the local Ukrainian community is hoping to see their “Veselka” sign publicly displayed.

The political dance began in December, 2003, when the Veselka Prince Albert and District Ukrainian Heritage Club proposed the installation of a metal sign to the city’s planning and engineering department.

In the shape of a rainbow, the sign would feature the word “Veselka” -- Ukrainian for rainbow -- and be installed over the Ukrainian cairn, which is in the Ukrainian section of the South Hill cemetery.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” current club president Diane Bazowski said. “When you look at a rainbow … you think about a bright culture.”

With Prince Albert a multicultural blend of people, by placing a rainbow over the Ukrainian cairn they’re recognizing not only Ukrainians, but their place among countless other ethnic groups in the city, she explained.

Following city administration’s verbal OK, the club proceeded to build the sign at a cost of more than $16,000.

After six months with the planning and engineering department, sign architect Ben Hiladun checked in on the sign’s status to find that nothing had happened with his request.

Capping off some confusion over the item, city council shot down the club’s proposal in September, 2004.

“The councillors of the day simply said ‘It’s confusing, I don’t know what’s going on’ … and they said let’s not bother with it,” Coun. Don Cody summarized this week.

Frustrated by the runaround and council’s dismissive attitude during the 2004 meeting, past club president Elmer Malec said that they abandoned the issue.

The sign has been stored north of Meath Park for the past decade.

A glimpse of hope was unveiled at Monday’s executive committee meeting, when the city’s current batch of elected officials appeared apologetic about the club’s treatment.

When Coun. Ted Zurakowski asked administration what has changed since the club’s last proposal was turned down in 2004, Mayor Greg Dionne responded, “We’re nicer.”

Dionne himself voted against the sign as a city councillor in 2004, arguing that it would “dominate the whole cemetery.”

On Monday, Dionne pushed the item forward to next week’s city council meeting for potential approval, indicating he’s had a change of heart.

When you look at a rainbow … you think about a bright culture. Diane Bazowski

The rainbow sign would face the Prince Albert Tourism Centre’s parking lot, with only the side facing away from the cemetery brightly-coloured.

Aside from some touchups and an installation costing the club about $2,500, the sign’s ready for installation.

It’ll be nice to see more recognition of Prince Albert as a multicultural community, Bazowski said, noting that many ethnic groups in town aren’t as vocal about their cultures as the Ukrainians, who have a choir, dance group, annual festival and traditional food booth at the summer fair.

“It’s too bad that more people don’t push it -- it’s a multicultural city,” she said. “We don’t want our ethnic groups to lose all these traditions and culture … but over the years, we have lost some of it.”

City council will make a decision on the Veselka sign at the Monday, July 14, city council meeting.


Summer Fair preparations

Still a few weeks away, the Veselka Prince Albert and District Ukrainian Heritage Club is already well underway in preparing for the Summer Fair.

They’ve already prepared about 900 dozen perogies for their food booth.

Next week they’ll get started on 45 roasters of cabbage rolls (last year’s 41 roasters ran out). Last year’s batch included 400 pounds of cabbage.

Borscht and traditionally-cooked bread (in an outdoor clay oven) also prove popular each year -- as do smokies (400 pounds were purchased for this year).

About 20 volunteers will be on site each day during the Summer Fair to serve and prepare foods on site.

Serving the same foods as they always have, it’s amazing how many people enjoy traditional Ukrainian culinary delights, Bazowski said.

The Daily Herald will follow up with the club next week when we’ll find out how to make the perfect Ukrainian cabbage roll.

Organizations: Veselka Prince Albert and District Ukrainian Heritage Club, Prince Albert, Daily Herald

Geographic location: South Hill, Meath Park

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