Welcome to Local Narratives

The Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre at MacEwan University launched the research project Local Narratives: The Lives, Legacies, and Locales of Edmonton’s Ukrainian Canadian Community in the fall of 2021. Local Narratives aims to document and preserve the experiences, memories, and knowledge held by members of the Ukrainian Canadian community in Edmonton through oral history interviews. These stories enrich existing archives with information that would not otherwise be documented: stories that are told casually, in the midst of conversation, or in passing; stories that highlight remarkable activities that are not celebrated enough; reflections on accomplishments and challenges; or perhaps, stories that are difficult to tell. 

Edmonton-95 Street Looking South. A neighborhood where many Ukrainian immigrants settled in the mid-twentieth century.

Jasper Avenue Looking East from 100 Street. 

Alberta is home to one of the largest populations of individuals with Ukrainian ancestry living outside of Ukraine. It is composed of over five waves of immigration with up to six generations who established a life in Canada from each respective wave.[1] This long history of Ukrainian immigration to Alberta has created a Ukrainian Canadian community that is undoubtedly fluid, diverse, and nuanced. The experiences of individuals from each wave and generation are different from the next. Individuals within a single wave of immigration experienced life in Canada differently based on whether they settled in urban or rural locations; their gender; their age; their religious beliefs or political affiliation; their profession and social mobility; or what region they initially immigrated from—their lives before immigration. No two stories are alike, and no story is insignificant.

The generational shift happening in the Ukrainian diaspora makes the project timely and vital. It is crucial to record the memories, anecdotes, and experiences of senior generations of Ukrainian Canadians while they are still with us. The process of collecting oral histories has allowed for intimate interaction between different generations and an opportunity to learn and share with one another. Local Narratives has a historical and documentary purpose but has coincidentally fostered community building and personal connection—something that society has been deprived of in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Together, the interviews, narratives, and photographs exhibited within Local Narratives build a rich tableau of the diversity and ingenuity within the Ukrainian community in Edmonton, how Ukrainians have contributed to Canadian society, and how Ukrainians in Canada have maintained relationships with Ukraine historically. It serves as an open access and rich archive for both the public and researchers to explore.

The stories currently featured on the Local Narratives website were collected prior to the escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The indiscriminate bombing, missile strikes, and heinous war crimes occurring in Ukraine have changed our world forever. There are currently hundreds of Ukrainian nationals fleeing the war arriving in Canada, and we expect the number to grow into the thousands. We have temporarily paused the collection of new stories for the Local Narratives website and will commence with new content at a slower pace as we respond and readjust to this devastating, trying, and everchanging moment within our global Ukrainian community.

[1] Makuch, Andrij and Frances Swyrypa. "Canada". The Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. Updated 2008. Read the full entry here.  

The waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada are typically characterized as follows: First Wave (1891-1914) with up to six subsequent generations in Canada; Second Wave (1920-1939) with up to five subsequent generations in Canada; Third Wave (1945-1955) with up to four subsequent generations in Canada; Forth Wave (1980s during the liberalization of the Eastern Block) with up to three subsequent generation in Canada; Fifth Wave (1991-present) with up to two subsequent generations in Canada.

The escalation of Russia's war in Ukraine in 2022 his triggered what will likely be described as the sixth wave of immigration to Canada. 

*Subsequent waves calculated in 2021.