This weekend marked Toronto's 22nd annual Ukrainian Festival in the Bloor West Village, a festival with the goal to expose Ukrainian culture to audiences to add to the multicultural fabric of Canada.

There were several vendors at the festival that explained the history of Ukraine's difficult path in gaining independence as a country in 1991 and how Ukraine still struggles for equality and acceptance in their homeland.

Historically, Ukrainian immigrants came to Canada since the end of the 19th century to live in peace and to prosper for their families. Presently, there are over 4 million Ukrainians that live in Canada!

This years festival showcased Ukrainian fashion throughout countless vendors, musical acts, dance groups and food.

Ukrainian Hutzel (mountain) dancers- Courtesy of www.ukrainianfestival.com

A huge trend in Ukraine at the moment is the Lyalka Motanka dolls, which are meant to bring positive energy to family and loved ones. The doll purposely has a cross rather than a face, which is meant to symbolize spirituality and harmony among all human beings.

Popular Ukrainian dolls.

Most of the entrepreneurs that participated in the festival were fashion based. Ukrainian fashion has definitely been a huge influence on current fashion trends. For example, embroidery on blouses and beaded necklaces has been an ongoing tradition of the Ukrainian culture.

Traditional Ukrainian shirts for men and women.

Ukrainian necklaces with red and coral beading.

The traditional Ukrainian flower crowns have been worn for decades, but are now being elevated to a new level in order to promote national pride. Women began wearing these particular headdresses after the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 as a political statement.

Ukrainian crown.

Overall, the festival proudly celebrated Ukrainian Canadian entrepreneurial achievements through its vendors to inspire festival-goers that came from all over Canada, the United States, and abroad. The food was delicious and the Ukrainian entertainment was top notch, which included traditional and contemporary dances and music. It is a Toronto festival that is not to be missed!

If you missed it this year, don't worry the festival takes place every year in September, so mark your calendar now!  

By: Alaina Pawlowicz

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