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Easter marks a bittersweet holiday for Ukrainians in the Maritimes

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Moncton's Ukrainian community held an Easter bazaar Sunday with traditional painted eggs, Easter bread, sweets, and savoury treats like pierogies and cabbage rolls

The bazaar was held at a community centre on Church Street in downtown Moncton.

Members of the Ukrainian Club of Moncton say it's more important to preserve traditions now than when they were actually living in Ukraine.

“If we don't do that, we may start forgetting who we are,” said Nataliia Haidash, club president. “We also have kids who haven't had this experience of seeing how this is done in Ukraine. For example, my child was born in Canada, so if we don't keep with the traditions, they will grow up without knowing.”

Olesia Bulenok agrees.

“It's us, our traditions, our language, it's who we are. For me as a parent, it's really important as well that my daughters will know all of our traditions and they can speak my language,” said Bulenok.

While the event is festive, it's hard for the Ukrainian community to celebrate when their homeland is at war.

“It's hard to celebrate any kind of family holiday with part of our family and friends in Ukraine, knowing that they won't be able to do normal celebrations,” said Haidash. “It's the same as it is with Christmas or any other holiday.”

Bulenok said it’s very hard for her to feel festive.

“My heart is broken because not everybody is safe there. Not everybody can have Easter bread. Not everybody can have an appropriate celebration,” said Bulenok.

Ivanova said she’s happy her family and friends can gather together in New Brunswick.

“But in Ukraine, it's quite a difficult time and some families can't be together because fathers and sons are in the war right now,” said Ivanova.

There was also an Easter egg workshop held by Julia Khalack for anyone who wanted to learn the intricate details of painting Ukrainian Easter eggs, or Pysanka, by using wax and dyes.

“The egg is a symbol of a new life,” said Khalack.

Khalack said she didn’t know how to make Pysanka until she came to Canada. She was taught by two Ukrainians when she arrived in Moncton.

“Now I’m trying to pass on the tradition and teach it to whoever wants to learn this,” said Khalack.

Proceeds from Sunday’s bazaar will go toward purchasing medical supplies for Ukrainian soldiers back home.

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