New award-winning work by photojournalist Marta Iwanek

TORONTO – Last year, Marta Iwanek won the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award, presented by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) and The Canadian Press. On Saturday, April 24, she was the recipient of more photography awards. One was a prize for the best portrait – a photo of a Kenyan girl, Mumtaz Ibrahim, who was born with a disfigured face and underwent surgery in Toronto in March 2015. This photo was included in the National Pictures of the Year winners selected by the News Photographers Association of Canada, Canada’s largest photojournalism competition. Ms. Iwanek also won first place from the National Press Photographers Association for the Best of Photojournalism, Portrait and Personality, an international award.

Now showing: Toronto filmmaker’s “Holodomor: Voices of Survivors”

TORONTO – Ariadna Ochrymovych, an independent film producer/director/writer and educator based in Toronto, has made several documentary films, the latest of which is “Holodomor: Voices of Survivors.” She interviewed over 100 Holodomor survivors across Canada – in every major city. The film was made under the auspices and with the cooperation of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center (UCRDC). One version of the film was cut to a 30-minute length so that it could be used in schools as part of part of the “Holodomor National Awareness Tour,”  which consists of a mobile bus outfitted with electronic equipment to show a digital narrative on the Holodomor. The bus travels around Ontario schools (the plan is to send it throughout Canada) as a mobile lesson for high school students on the Holodomor. “Holodomor: Voices of Survivors” won an award at the Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago and a nomination for best documentary at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto.

Artist Sophia Lada, who explored spiritual culture of the past, 74

TORONTO – Artist Sophia Lada, known for her artwork rooted in folklore and mythology, died in Toronto on February 14 after a three-year battle with cancer. She was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1941 and, after her family’s obligatory stay in a refugee camp in Germany (in Augsburg and Regensburg), they immigrated to Philadelphia in 1949. In 1980 she moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to take up a curatorial position at the Oseredok Art Gallery and Museum. Most recently, Lada, as she preferred to be called, took part in the exhibit “The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908-2015” at The Ukrainian Museum in New York, which was held from October 18, 2015, to February 14. The exhibit, which “examined the relationship between Ukrainian identity and women artists beyond the borders of Ukraine,” featured 100 works by 44 artists, the majority of whom belong to the post-World War II wave of immigration to North America.

Toronto International Film Festival screens new Maidan film

TORONTO – The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs from September 10 to 20 and features 289 films from 79 countries, again includes a film about the Maidan  – “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” by Evgeny Afineevsky. Born in Kazan, Russia, in 1972, Afineevsky had a full film making career in Israel, and now lives in Los Angeles. Although dealing with the same subject matter as the 2014 TIFF selection – Sergei Loznitsa’s “Maidan” – this year’s film has a different treatment. Whereas Mr. Loznitsa’s film was captured from one perspective (the viewer was in one place observing what was around him), Mr. Afineevsky uses 28 cameramen and women who cover various locations throughout the three months of the demonstrations. The film is heavily loaded with imagery – much of it quite harrowing.

UCRDC interviews Ludmilla Temertey, a child of Holodomor survivors

TORONTO – The Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center (UCRDC), which is involved in research on victims of the Holodomor and on the events of World War II in Ukraine, recently launched a new oral history project: interviews with the children of Holodomor survivors – persons who did not themselves live through the famine but experienced it through their family history. Something similar has been done in the Jewish community, where it has been established that trauma can be transmitted from Holocaust survivor parents to their offspring. Under the guidance of archivist Iroida Wynnyckyj, the project is ongoing at the UCRDC. Ms. Wynnyckyj and sociologist Vsevolod Isajiw developed a questionnaire and engaged Sophia Isajiw to implement the interview project. A list of about a dozen potential interviewees has been compiled and Ms. Isajiw has started her work.

Exhibit chronicles history of the Ukrainian-Jewish encounter in Ukraine from antiquity to World War I

TORONTO – The Jewish presence in Ukraine dates back 2,000 years. A traveling exhibit highlighting and exploring the relationship between the two communities – “A Journey Through the Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter from Antiquity to 1914” – was recently mounted by the Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter (UJE), which since 2008 has been studying and supporting this encounter. The exhibit was shown on July 8-19, at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada at St. Vladimir Institute in Toronto. It has already been to the Jewish Schwartz/Reisman Community Center, north of Toronto, and to Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Marta Iwanek wins 2015 photojournalism award

TORONTO – Marta Iwanek is this year’s winner of the Tom Hanson Photojournalism Award presented by the Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) and The Canadian Press. A graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson University in Toronto in 2012, and of the photojournalism program at Loyalist College (Belleville) in 2014, Ms. Iwanek accepted the Hanson award at the CJF gala on June 3. Tom Hanson was an award-winning photojournalist for The Canadian Press who for 15 years travelled around the world shooting news and sports images. When Hanson died suddenly at age 41 in 2009, his family, friends and colleagues at The Canadian Press and the country’s photojournalism community set up the award as an appropriate way to honor his memory, talent and spirit. The Hanson Award is administered by The Canadian Journalism Foundation (founded in 1990) and offers a six-week paid internship at The Canadian Press head office in Toronto for a photojournalist in the early stages of his or her career.

Plokhy wins 2015 Lionel Gelber Prize for “The Last Empire”

TORONTO – The one opinion of Serhii Plokhy’s new book “The Last Empire: the Final Days of the Soviet Union” with which all reviewers agree is that, as Anne Applebaum wrote, it’s “an indispensable guide to the tensions and rivalries of the present.” It has been hailed as an “extraordinarily well timed book” (Slate magazine) “with uncanny parallels to the present day” (Wall Street Journal). “The Last Empire” is the winner of the 25th annual Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for “the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs that seeks to deepen public debate on significant international issues.”

The book explores the last months – from July to December 1991 – of the demise of the Soviet Union and examines the explanations for it, of which there have been several. The most pervasive has been the triumphalist interpretation of the Soviet collapse as an American victory in the Cold War. This view also feeds the present-day Russian nationalist conspiracy theories that present the collapse of the Soviet Union as the outcome of a CIA plot. Although the broad outlines of what happened in the last few months are well-known, Dr. Plokhy adds new sources: diaries, memoirs and interviews collected over the past two decades.

Jewish Ukrainian leader Zissels calls for united effort to confront Russian aggression

TORONTO – On March 3-7, the vice-president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Confederation and Communities in Ukraine, Josef Zissels, spoke to both Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking communities in Toronto and Ottawa. During the Soviet period, he was active in the dissident movement, serving six years in penal colonies. In 1988 he set up Ukraine’s first Jewish organization and has been a fervent defender of Ukraine’s independence and democratic path. Mr. Zissels’ visit to Canada was sponsored by the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE) and supported by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center (UCRDC). An interview with Mr. Zissels was published in The Ukrainian Weekly on August 17, 2014, when he last visited the UCRDC and explained how former Soviet Jews in Ukraine have today become Ukrainian Jews and are identifying with Ukraine and its struggle against Russian aggression.

New book presents evidence on positive roles of Ukrainian Jews in Euro-Maidan movement

TORONTO – The demonstrations on the Maidan in Kyiv that subsequently became known as the Euro-Maidan and the Revolution of Dignity began on November 21, 2013, when it became known that the Yanukovych government had refused to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. An avalanche of propaganda was let loose against the Maidan demonstrations, mostly stemming from Russian sources. The demonstrators were accused of being: “fascists,” “neo-Nazis” and “ultra-nationalists,” but the major charge was of “anti-Semitism.” Unlike “fascist” or “ultra-nationalist,” the latter was a specific charge that could be refuted. That is the topic of a new book – “Jews, Ukrainians and the Euromaidan” – edited by Dr. Lubomyr Y. Luciuk, professor of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. In selections by various authors, covering the period November 21, 2013, to March 20, 2014, Prof. Luciuk offers compelling evidence about the positive role Ukraine’s Jews, as well as those in the diaspora, played in defense of the political sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.