Neebing family marks Ukrainian Christmas

(Editor's note: This story was first published on Jan. 9, 2023 under the slugline 'LJI-ON-TBAY-Neebing-Orthodox'. This version corrects the slugline and headline to change Orthodox to Ukrainian.)

Neebing, Ont. — This year, Ukrainian Christmas has been muted somewhat due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but religious celebrations march on today as the conflict continues in the old country.

Municipality of Neebing resident Taras Kolomeychuk, who is the president of the church council at the Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ukrainian Catholic Church in Thunder Bay, said the traditional Ukrainian Christmas has much more meaning with the war still ongoing.

“Absolutely (we have a heavy heart with what’s going on in Ukraine)," said Kolomeychuk, whose parents were married at the church in 1946. “Even though I’ve been here for years, we still have family in Ukraine. We’re all connected.”

On Friday, Kolomeychuk’s family was preparing for Ukrainian Christmas Eve in Neebing by creating 12 meatless dishes such as cabbage rolls, perogies and borscht.

On Saturday, the Ukrainian church on McIntosh Street in Thunder Bay had the feast of the Nativity at noon with Father Stephan Didir of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Ukrainian Catholic Church presiding over the service.

Some new faces that may have attended the service are Ukrainian refugees who fled the war over the past year and are currently settled in Thunder Bay.

Last week, Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus Christ Ukrainian Catholic Church held a social gathering for the new arrivals, which numbered approximately 60-70 in attendance.

“We had a social gathering (on Dec. 29) of new Ukrainians to Thunder Bay that have come since the war had started,” Kolomeychuk said. “Two local organizations and a bunch of volunteers put together a little social evening trying to get the new Ukrainians to meet one another.

“Canada has provided an opportunity for them to flee the conflict, come to Canada for a number of years and then they can decide if they want to stay or go back.”

Another social gathering for the new Ukrainians is also in the works for next month.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal