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August 24th, 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Ukraine's independence, and instead of looking at something upcoming, we're going to look back to August 24th, 1991.
Ottawa's Dnipro Ukrainian Dance Ensemble - a precursor to Svitanok - arrived in Warsaw, Poland on August 19th, 1991, to embark on a performance tour of Ukraine. On the plane ride there, the Soviet Union underwent a coup d'état (переворот). There was an attempt to overthrow USSR President Gorbachev, creating much instability. Dnipro was stuck in Poland for two days until they were given the go-ahead from the Canadian embassy to enter Ukraine. A couple of days later, the Soviet Union fell apart.
Finally arriving in Lviv on August 22nd, the Dnipro dancers and chaperones found themselves immersed in major street gatherings, flag raisings, patriotic songs, and emotional connections with local Lviv citizens. Little did they know that the next days would be life-changing and history-making for all of Ukraine.
On August 24th, 1991, Ukraine declared total independence. Waves of people took to the streets of Lviv again to gather and celebrate. Dnipro, the precursor to the Svitanok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, was the first Ukrainian Canadian dance ensemble to perform in an independent Ukraine - in Lviv, Skole, and Kyiv.
The Svitanok Society was created in Ottawa in the fall of 1991 - an important legacy to this historic trip. "Svitanok" means "dawn" in Ukrainian, and this represented a dawn of a new era. To an independent Ukraine and continued strong ties between our two countries - happy 25th anniversary of Ukraine's independence; з днем Незалежності!