2022 Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion Ambassadors
2022 Adult Ambassadors
Myles Burdeniuk started life in Winnipeg, living in Charleswood, where he spoke some Ukrainian before going to public school. At six years old, he was quoted to have said: “I don’t want to speak that language that Gigi speaks anymore!” Since then, Myles has had some better ideas. Soon after, he entered the Catholic school system, spending four years at St. Charles Academy and then, after moving to the Maples, completing middle school at Immaculate Heart of Mary School. Myles was then sent off to Roblin, Manitoba for three years, graduating from St. Vladimir’s College, Ukrainian Catholic minor seminary boarding school in 1991.
It was around this time Myles began his true relationship with Ukrainian culture. Even though as a child he took accordion lessons from Ted Komar and Ukrainian danced at St. Basil’s church and Legion 141, he never took those activities too seriously. However, as a young teen, spending summers in Dauphin, Manitoba with his grandfather, Nick Kereliuk, aka “Gigi,” Myles and his three younger brothers, Colin, Julian and Myron, began a connection with their Ukrainian culture that has lasted to this day. The family band, Gigi and his Boys, began performing at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in the early 90s and eventually made their way to Winnipeg to perform at the Kyiv Pavilion for Folklorama. The “Gigi-crafted” Tsymbaly, a Ukrainian hammered dulcimer that Myles played in the group, travelled across North America thanks to the St. Vlad’s concert tours.
Music wasn’t young Myles’ only passion in Ukrainian culture. After twice a week dance practices at St. Vlad’s, he joined Vitretz Ukrainian Dance Ensemble when he came back to Winnipeg. Over the next few years, Myles started to teach various dance groups across Manitoba. However, dancing in one group was not enough, so a year later he was accepted into Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. Dancing there for nine years, he toured Australia, Florida and Ukraine where he retired from the group with his last show in front of Майдан Незалежності – Independence Square – in Kyiv. Not completely ready to quit dancing, Myles and several other spry(ish) Ukrainians formed the Sirko Kozaks cabaret group, combining song and dance (and swords, of course).
Ukrainian dance also took Myles in another direction in the early 90s, helping him land a dance role in Rainbow Stage’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. He went on to perform in two more shows, Sound of Music and Damn Yankees, where his dance partner, Darilyn Fiala, later became his wife. During his “acting years” he was also lucky enough to share the stage with Keanu Reeves in Manitoba Theatre Centre’s production of Hamlet. The 90s rocked!
With dancing almost behind him, Myles entered another culturally fulfilling stage of his life, and his Wednesday nights have never been the same. In 1998, Myles joined Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus, closing the circle of brotherhood that began at St. Vlad’s over thirty years ago. He and his Hoosli brothers will be performing this year on Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion’s stage.
Myles currently teaches at École secondaire Kelvin High School. Starting in 1999, his Bachelor of Science degree supported his teaching of Science and Chemistry in the regular and International Baccalaureate programs. Since 2009, he has instructed the Digital Design and Animation, Digital Media, and Yearbook courses. Never one to sit still, Myles’ connection to the performing arts were instrumental in helping the school mount over twenty musical theater productions.
As a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Ukrainian Catholic church, Myles served as an altar boy, Catechism teacher and, more recently, as a church cantor, alongside his brothers and friends.
Myles would like to thank his “Ma and Ta”, Vivian and Isadore Burdeniuk, for giving their boys the opportunity to learn about their culture. He would also like to thank his family, Darilyn, Brandt and Danika for their support in all his ventures, and Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion for granting him the honour of ambassadorship.
Embracing your culture and sharing it are some of the most important things in life. Preserving heritage is something we need to fight to protect. Folklorama gives us the opportunity to celebrate our cultural diversity through our art, culture and, especially, language. Take that, six-year-old Myles!
Samantha Luczenczyn-Lane was raised in Oak Bank, MB, where she attended the Ukrainian Bilingual program at Oak Bank Elementary and Springfield Middle School. She began Ukrainian dance at the age of three, and joined the Selo Ukrainian Dancers in her early teens. In 2010, she joined the Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, where she is currently an active member the Ensemble, as well as a member of the Board.
Samantha began volunteering at Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion in 2007 and joined the organizing committee in 2010, after returning from a year of working in Switzerland as an au pair. During her year abroad, she was able to travel and explore the rich cultures and histories of many European countries. In 2011, she graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education and is currently teaching Clothing and Textiles at Springfield Middle School.
Samantha has journeyed to Ukraine three times – once in 2008, with her Swiss host-family; in 2017 with Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble; and again in 2018 with her husband, Mathew. Each time she was able to connect with her family members, participate in dance and cultural festivities, and enjoy the beautiful cities of Ukraine.
Samantha is an artistic person who loves to bake, sew, and attempt to grow vegetables in her garden. She is hoping to grow beets and carrots this year, to use in her first scratch-made batch of borsch. She loves to travel and hopes to visit as many countries as she can, including her beloved Ukraine.
2022 Youth Ambassadors
Danylo Kruk was born in Winnipeg and was raised right across the street from his paternal grandparents. His love for Ukrainian culture and language was fostered by his grandparents who, while babysitting him, would teach Danylo how to read, write and speak Ukrainian. His maternal grandparents added to Danylo’s admiration of Ukrainian culture, as his grandfather was the parish priest at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, where Danylo is a parishioner. This love for his culture soon led Danylo to join Plast Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada, where he has been a proud member since he was 4 years old. Danylo is also a graduate of Sts. Vladimir and Olga Ukrainian school, after 11 years of Saturdays spent appreciating the language, history, and traditions of Ukraine.
Danylo recently graduated from Miles Macdonell Collegiate with Honours-with-distinction, as a Full International Baccalaureate student. He was accepted into the University of Manitoba Faculty of Science and hopes to pursue a degree in biochemistry.
In the summers, Danylo keeps himself busy as a grounds keeper for Ukrainian Park Camp, an employee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, volunteering as a counsellor at Plast camp, as well as volunteering at Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion,where he has been involved since 2014.
As well as being an active member of Winnipeg’s Ukrainian Canadian community, Danylo is a passionate football player. He is currently a member of the Winnipeg Rifles’ roster as an offensive lineman.
Danylo is a firm believer in the importance of preserving, sharing, and the celebrating of culture, and is looking forward to doing his part as one of the Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion’s 2022 Youth Ambassadors.
Emily Leskiw was born and raised in Winnipeg. She is the granddaughter of Luba Huk who began the first Ukrainian language Sadochok in Winnipeg in the 1960’s. Emily’s early start in Sadochok instilled in her a strong sense of pride and began her involvement in the Ukrainian community of Manitoba. She began Ukrainian dancing at age 5 with Orlan and Sopilka Ukrainian Dance and currently dances with Romanetz Ukrainian Dance.
Emily spent her childhood summers at St. Andrews Ukrainian Language Camp and currently volunteers as a councillor at the Ukrainian Park Catholic Children’s Camp. She also volunteers in the Ukrainian Bilingual Program in various schools. She believes that, in order to preserve our rich heritage, we must raise children to see the beauty of the Ukrainian culture and language.
Emily graduated on the Honour roll from St. Mary’s Academy and was accepted direct entry into the Asper School of Business where she currently studies Finance and International Business. Emily plans to continue her education in Law and eventually become an immigration lawyer.
Emily is an active member of her University community and is on the executive council of St. Paul’s College and on the University of Manitoba Students Union Board of Directors.
In addition to school, Emily coaches children’s soccer, plays tennis, dances and volunteers.
In light of the atrocities in Ukraine, Emily feels that this year is one of the most important in the Ukraine-Kyiv Pavilion’s history. She believes this is our opportunity as a community to come together and teach others about our rich history and culture.