Ukrainian Ritual on the Prairies

Growing a Ukrainian Canadian Identity

A look into the lives of Ukrainian Canadians on the prairies and their expressions of identity through rituals and celebrations.


While Canada is home to one of the largest Ukrainian diasporas in the world, little is known about the life and culture of Ukrainians living in the country’s rural areas and their impact on Canadian traditions.

Drawing on more than ten years of interviews and fieldwork, Ukrainian Ritual on the Prairies describes the culture of Ukrainian Canadians living in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Despite powerful pressure to assimilate, these Ukrainians have managed both to preserve their sense of themselves as Ukrainian and to develop a culture sensitive to the realities of prairie life, creating their own uniquely Ukrainian Canadian traditions. The Ukrainian church, an iconic though now rapidly disappearing feature of the prairie landscape, takes centre stage as an instrument for the retention of Ukrainian identity and the development of a new culture. Natalie Kononenko explores the cultural elements of Ukrainian Canadian ritual practice, with an emphasis on family traditions surrounding marriage, birth, death, and religious holidays.

Ukrainian Ritual on the Prairies gives voice to a group of everyday people who are too often overlooked, highlighting their accomplishments and their contributions to Canadian life.


“A thoughtful and meaningful book. Natalie Kononenko draws the reader into the vivid lives of Ukrainian families on the prairies to make a significant contribution to our understanding of an important slice of Canadian history and to core issues at the intersection of oral history and folklore studies.” John Holmes McDowell, Indiana University