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May 16-18, 2009


62nd Annual USCC Union of Youth Festival




The 62nd Annual USCC Union of Youth Festival, held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre (BCC) in Castlegar, BC was widely judged to be “the best in a decade” by those in attendance , numbering well over 1000 Doukhobors and friends involved in the long weekend’s extravaganza of spiritual, cultural, recreational and social activities.


Early Saturday morning the Youth Council and Verigin family members gathered briefly at the Verigin Memorial Park in order to pay their respects to John J. Verigin, the late USCC Honourary Chairman, and to the other Doukhobor leaders and family members interred there. Moments later, the Festival Program commenced at the BCC with greetings from the Council and USCC Executive Chairman, Mike W. Kanigan. The psalm session was then opened by the All-Canadian Doukhobor Choir (ACDC), a newly organized 80-member ensemble from all over Western Canada, making its inaugural appearance at the Festival. Saturday afternoon saw the presentation of guests and traditional a cappella performances by various choirs in the Kootenay-Boundary region of BC.


The Saturday evening “Talent Showcase” brought the packed house to its feet with numerous standing ovations for rousing performances by the Voices for Peace Youth Choir, the Victoria and Lower Mainland Doukhobor Choirs, the men’s Tri-Choir and women’s Friends in Unity, the Grand Forks Group of Friends and the ACDC, as well as other smaller groupings and individual performances. This year’s concert was particularly noteworthy for the unprecedented level of musical instrumentation and choreographic innovation that was skillfully and tastefully interwoven into the Russian classical and folk selections, while leaving the uniquely Doukhobor numbers in their own authentic a cappella mode. The audience also noted with approval the professional sophistication of the musical arrangements, and the high calibre of skill and talent demonstrated by all performers, including the budding comedians who helped to maintain a light and festive atmosphere.


Sunday morning witnessed an inspiring outdoor traditional Doukhobor Moleniye (mass prayer service), which, as has become the custom, was also the touching scene of two more marriage blessings, bestowed this year on Barry Verigin and Stephanie Swetlishoff , and Rod Voykin and Francesca Maria Alvarado Diaz. The Sunday program continued with more choral presentations by groups from all over BC, as well as presentations of guests. The afternoon included a noteworthy keynote speech by USCC Executive director, JJ Verigin, his first such address since being acclaimed as the new head of the organization at this year’s USCC AGM. The staged performances ended with a triumphal grand finale involving nearly a hundred youthful participants.


As befit its theme of “Roots of our heritage – wings of our future”, the Festival featured a series of tributes to the late USCC Honourary Chairman, hi-lighted by a display of photos and other memorabilia in the Centre basement and a moving video reminiscence put together by George Koochin. Clearly, the young Festival participants gained much new “wind beneath their wings” through the thematic progression of the jubilant annual event.


The third day of festivities was devoted to more physical and recreational pursuits, with young people participating in a variety of games and sports in the sunny outdoor venue of the BCC grounds. (For a more intimate view of the Festival please visit our slide shows in the Photo Gallery.)


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