A youth choir performing at last year's USCC Union of Youth Festival.

Doukhobor culture to be center of youth festival

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The USCC youth council has been hard at work planning and organizing the 69th Annual Union of Youth Festival. The festival will take place over the Victoria Day weekend, May 21-23, at the Brilliant Cultural Centre. The theme for this year’s event is Living the Doukhobor Life Concept. “We are exploring everything that is encompassed within the Doukhobor life concept, things like pacifism and community,” said Union of Youth chair Raissa Chernoff.

The purpose of the festival is to bring together Doukhobors from across Canada to celebrate their culture and history. Most of the festival will revolve around singing and taking in the numerous choirs that will be performing including the Vision of Peace Youth Choir, Kootenay Men’s Choir and choirs from Grand Forks, Slocan Valley and Victoria. Approximately 200 singers will be performing throughout the course of the festival. “This is a great time for all of us to get together. We sing a lot — that is how we have passed down our traditions, through singing,” explained Chernoff. “All of our history is in our songs as well.”

The public is invited to attend all events. “Traditionally it has been only Doukhobors, but we are really trying to open it up and invite more people and get more people involved,” said Chernoff.

The festival kicks off at 1 p.m. on Saturday with a time of traditional singing. The largest singing event, and the only one that requires a ticket, will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. but doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for youth, $5 for children 5-12, free for children under 5. Tickets are available at the Brilliant Cultural Centre office which is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. if there are remaining tickets, they will be made available at the door. The Saturday evening gathering has a fun and lighthearted atmosphere. “Saturday night is the most exciting, it is when all of the fun stuff happens,” said Chernoff.

Moleniye will be held Sunday morning at 10 a.m. This is the more serious and spiritual of the events, featuring a prayer service and the reading and singing of Psalms. Matrimonial blessings will also take place, where the congregation bestows their blessings on couples that plan to be married in the upcoming year. Participants will be dressed in traditional Doukhobor clothing.

At 11:30 a.m. Sunday the children’s Sunday School graduation will take place along with more singing. This will be followed by a borscht lunch organized by the Kootenay Ladies Organization. This will be followed by another singing session at 2:30 p.m.

Monday will be a sports day featuring kids games and baseball.

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