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The Annual School Tea, which traditionally takes place on the first Sunday in February, is by far the largest event on the school’s annual calendar. The Tea is primarily a fund raising event, but because its success depends entirely on the volunteer work of IHMS families, it has a secondary benefit as well – it brings parents together to work cooperatively towards a common goal, and in the process creates a sense of unity and fellowship within the IHMS community.


The 2017 Tea Opener – Dr. Roman Yereniuk, St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba


          2017 Annual School Tea

  • When: Sunday, February 5, 2017 from 1:30 – 4:00 pm,
  • Where: Immaculate Heart of Mary School, 650 Flora Avenue
  • Theme:  “Celebrating 125 Years of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada”
  • Openers: Dr. Roman Yereniuk, St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba



The setup in the gym shortly prior to the opening of the Tea


  The Annual School Tea also attracts a wide range of visitors beyond the families currently attending IHMS. Since the Tea is open to everyone, it’s a great way for former students to revisit the school to meet old friends and acquaintances. If fact, most of the table servers at the Tea are either present or past students of the school.


All of the tea servers were either past or present students of IHMS, and all were volunteers


This year, the Tea took place on Sunday, February 5, 2017 from 1:30 to 4:00 pm.


An example of the poster used to advertise the Annual School Tea


Many visitors to the Tea missed an interesting display entitled “Our Brave Pioneers” near the entrance to the gym. An example of a pioneer dwelling is shown in the bottom photo. To view the poster in greater detail, click here.


 The lettering on the wall of the gym for the Annual School Tea



Celebrating 125 Years of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada

A Ukrainian pioneer sowing seeds on his homestead almost 100 years ago
The year 2016 marked the 125th anniversary of the “first wave” of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. During this first wave, Manitoba was the initial jumping off point for many of these dispersed immigrants. After arriving from the east by train, some settled in urban centres like Winnipeg, especially in the north end of the city. In fact, it was here, in 1905, that the predecessor to our school, St. Nicholas School, was built to accommodate the children of this first wave of Ukrainian immigrants.


Many other Ukrainians choose not to settle in urban areas, and developed homesteads in southeastern Manitoba, the Interlake, and the Riding Mountain area around Dauphin. These pioneers endured formidable hardships, but through hard work and a belief in a better life in this new land, they transformed much of Manitoba’s wilderness into productive farm land. They also built roads, railways, and rural communities that enhanced the political and cultural life of our province.


The first wave of immigration began in September 1891 when two courageous settlers, Ivan Pylypiw and Wasyl Eleniak, left their homeland in Western Ukraine to establish a new homestead and a new life in Canada. After enduring a tough Canadian winter, they were followed a few months later by thousands of additional settlers, mostly peasants and farmers. From 1891 to 1914, this first wave of Ukrainian pioneers arrived with very few personal belongings and limited financial resources. But they were determined to create a new and better life for themselves in Canada.


In the years following the end of the First World War, there were several additional waves of Ukrainian immigration to Canada. Each wave brought immigrants from a different region of Ukraine, and each group settled in a different area of Canada. The most recent wave of Ukrainian immigrants occurred after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, exactly 100 years after the beginning of the first wave that started it all.


Canada now has the third-largest Ukrainian population in the world, behind Ukraine itself and Russia. This is an amazing fact! These Ukrainian immigrants have played an historic role in shaping and contributing to Canada’s cultural landscape, especially in the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Our province and our country would be a much different place today without the many accomplishments and contributions made by 125 years of Ukrainian immigration.


Mr. Picklyk and Sr. Anne were ready to greet people as they entered the Tea


Although the  Tea officially began at 1:30 p.m., a lot of people arrived well in advance, sometimes directly after attending Sunday Liturgy services, in order to get a good seat in the gym for the opening speeches. People also came early to view the displays in the Exhibit Room, to enter tickets for the Basket Raffle, and to visit the Bake Room before it was sold out. Parent volunteers seen throughout the school (and many more working anonymously behind the scenes) kept things running smoothly to accommodate all the visitors to the Tea.


A grade 7 student working as a “greeter” as people entered the front door


It’s been a custom for years for the school to showcase examples of student artwork on the theme of the Annual School Tea. This artwork is displayed on hundreds of placemats arranged on the tables throughout the gym. Every student in the school created at least 2 colourful placemats based on the topic “Celebrating 125 Years of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada”
Examples of placemats covered with student art


The Tea began at 1:30 p.m. with a call for attention by Mr. R. Picklyk, the principal of IHMS and Master of Ceremonies for the event. Mr. Picklyk asked everyone in attendance to stand and welcome a group of dignitaries that entered the gym and processed to the two main tables at the front. The procession was lead by Sr. Anne Pidskalny, the school’s director, and included Mr. Paul Trochanowski, the school’s vice-principal, Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak OSBM, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, Mrs. Donna Sikorsky, Tea co-convernor), Mrs. Patricia Maruschak, Tea co-convernor, Father Julian Khomechko OSBM, the school’s chaplain, Sr. Janice Soluk SSMI, member of the IHMS Board of Trustees, Mr. Jason Brennan, Chairperson of the IHMS Board of Trustees, Mr. Arnold Dumlao, president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild, and of course the Tea opener Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Associate Professor at St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Yereniuk was accompanied by his wife Anastasia.

 The Tea opener Dr. Roman Yereniuk, entered the gym at 1:30 p.m. with various other dignitaries and speakers. Standing at the podium is the school’s principal Mr. Rod Picklyk, the Master of Ceremonies for the event.


Back row (l-r): Mr. Rod Picklyk (principal of IHMS); Mr. Jason Brennan, Chairperson of the IHMS Board of Trustees, Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM (Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada); Sr. Anne Pidskalny (IHMS director); Mrs. Patrucia Maruschak (Tea co-convernor); Mrs. Donna Sikorsky (Tea co-convernor) and Mr. Paul Trochanowski (vice-principal of IHMS); Front row (l-r): Anastasia Yereniuk and her husband Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Associate Professor at St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba.



After welcoming everyone to the Tea, Mr. Picklyk introduced Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada who lead everyone in an opening prayer.


Mr. R. Picklyk, the principal of IHMS was Master of Ceremonies (top photo) and Most Reverend Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Metropolitan of Ukrainian Catholics in Canada said the opening prayer (bottom photo).


After the opening prayer, Mr. Picklyk introduced two dignitaries who spoke briefly on behalf of the group they represented. First was Mr. Arnold Dumlao, president of the IHMS Parent’s Guild, who thanked the convenors for all their hard work, the coordinators for work in their different areas, the donors for the basket raffle, the parents for the baked goods, and all the volunteers who made this year’s Tea such a success.



Secondly, Sr. Anne Pidskalny, SSMI, the school’s kindergarten and Sadochok teacher as well as its director, greeted everyone on behalf of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, the order of Ukrainian religious sisters who own and operate the school. and have been doing so since August 28, 1905. Sr. Anne spoke briefly about the amazing history of IHMS and its predecessor, St. Nicholas School. St. Nicholas School played a crucial role as the educational choice for hundreds of Ukrainian children (many who couldn’t speak English) during the first wave of immigration in the early years of the 20th century. This is one of the many proud legacies of Immaculate Heart of Mary School’s 111 year history.



Mr. Picklyk then spoke briefly about the centerpiece logo on the gym wall. This logo celebrates 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, and consists of three parts. The bottom part symbolizes four waves of immigration to Canada. These are the waves of the ocean to be overcome on the way to a new land. In the central part of the logo people transform into three flying cranes. a symbol of migration. A Golden Trident, the national crest of Ukraine, is superimposed on one of the cranes. The wings of the cranes ultimately transform into a maple leaf – the national symbol of Canada. Of course, the number “125” indicates 125 years of immigration to Canada.


Mr. Picklyk then described how the K-8 students incorporated the theme of Ukrainian immigration into the beautiful and colourful placemats that were on the Tea room tables. Every student in the school made two placemats, and the plan was to return the placemats to each student after the Tea. Mr. Picklyk also thanked the many volunteers who gave up their time to work at the Tea, including parents, grandparents, and the many IHMS alumni who worked as tea servers.



Mr. Picklyk also introduced three dignitaries at one of the two head tables:

  • Father Julian Khomechko, OSBM, the school’s new chaplain who recently replaced Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM.
  • Mr. Jason Brennan, Chairperson of the IHMS Board of Trustees, who recently replaced Slawomir Waplak.
  • Sr. Janice Soluk, SSMI, member of the IHMS Board of Trustees


Finally, Mr. Picklyk introduced this year’s Tea opener, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Associate Professor of Theology specializing in Ukrainian religious history at St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba, where he has been working since 1972 – almost 45 years! In addition to his work as an educator, Dr. Yereniuk has also worked as a school trustee for the Winnipeg School Board on two separate occasions. In addition, during the 1997 and 2000 federal elections he campaigned for a seat in the House of Commons as a member of the New Democratic Party. Unfortunately, he was defeated on both occasions to a former parent of IHMS – Liberal incumbent Rey Pagtakhan. These skills and life experiences have made Dr. Yereniuk a very prominent and highly respected member of Winnipeg’s Ukrainian community.


This year’s Tea opener, Dr. Roman Yereniuk, Associate Professor of Theology at St. Andrew’s College at the University of Manitoba


Dr. Yereniuk began by noting the importance of education in the Ukrainian community. Subjects such as Math, ELA, and Science are critical in a child’s education, but for Ukrainian students, Ukrainian culture should be a part of the school day.


Dr. Yereniuk then gave a brief history of Ukrainian education in Manitoba. The earliest schools were one room classrooms (this is how St. Nicholas School began), and by 1905 bilingual schools were established in Brandon, Manitoba, where half the school day was taught in English and the other half was taught in Ukrainian.



In addition, private schools started to pop up as Ukrainian communities began to invest in their own schools – St. Nicholas School (established in 1905 and eventually morphing into IHMS), St. Vladimir’s College in Roblin (established in 1942), and St. Andrew’s College (established in 1946 in the north end and becoming an associate college of the University of Manitoba in 1962).


The introduction of multiculturalism in Canada in 1970 provided the green light for Ukrainian bilingual programs in public schools. With the government’s permission, it was now possible for parents to send their children to a public school where half the day was taught in English and half in Ukrainian (similar to French bilingual programs). Although governmental permission was granted in 1970, the actual implementation of Ukrainian bilingualism in public schools didn’t get started in until the 1980-81 school year.



And so this is the situation today. Parents have the choice of sending their children to a public school with a Ukrainian bilingual program, a Ukrainian private school (like IHMS), or to a community school that teaches Ukrainian culture for a few hours a week after regular school hours or on a Saturday.


Dr. Yereniuk concluded by noting the unique role that education has played for Canada’s 1.3 million Ukrainians. Education and cultural values have equipped Ukrainian-Canadians with a special set of skills in human relations. These skills have led many Ukrainians into careers as teachers, nurses, and community workers. Finally, Dr. Yereniuk dedicated the Tea to all Ukrainian leaders in the past (teachers, parents, etc.) who have served as an inspiration to our youth.


The Tea was officially opened after Dr. Yereniuk lit the two centerpiece candles.


With Sr. Anne’s guidance, Dr. Yereniuk officially opened the Tea by lighting the two centerpiece candles


The Annual School Tea is such a huge event that it can only happen through the hard work and dedication of a lot of people. Although everyone involved with the school played an important role in the Tea’s success (including teachers and students), the majority of the work was done by parent volunteers. A lot of these parents dedicated most of their weekend preparing for the event, while others worked tirelessly with the cleanup and reorganization of the downstairs classrooms after the event. A large group of parents also kept everything running smoothly by working anonymously behind the scenes during the Tea.


A few of the more visible parent volunteers who kept the Tea running smoothly. Dozens of other parents worked anonymously behind the scenes preparing sandwiches the day before, making the tea, setting up the tables and place settings, taking the tables down and cleaning up afterwards, and many, many other jobs.


The Tea was organized by two very dedicated and talented IHMS parents, Mrs. Donna Sikorsky and Mrs. Patricia Maruschak – the fifth consecutive year for Mrs. Sikorsky and the fourth year for Mrs. Maruschak.


Tea convenors Mrs. Patricia Maruschak (left) and Mrs. Donna Sikorsky (right)


These two convenors spent countless hours co-ordinating the dozens of volunteers necessary to run the event. The results of the Tea speak for themselves because the two convenors obviously did a spectacular job!


A few examples of the beautiful table settings at the Tea


Some of the volunteer co-ordinators and their areas of responsibility:

  • Main Raffle – Donna Nowosad and Penny Spewak
  • Basket Raffle – Sandra Copp and Corrine McGinn
  • Kitchen Coordinators – Melanie Arndt and Liezel Jacinto
  • Reception Coordinator – Maryann Lee
  • Server Coordinator – Marnie Krawec-Verma
  • Bake Room Coordinator – Nataliya Demkowicz
  • Children’s Room Coordinator – Justine Kruz-Doyle


An event as large as the as the Annual School Tea requires a lot of hard working volunteers to keep things running smoothly. In the above photos, all the volunteer tea pourers are either current students or recent alumni of IHMS 



During the Tea, each of the K-4 classes were used for a special purpose.


The grade 4 classroom was the “Children’s Room”


In addition to making use of the usual 4 classrooms on the first floor of the school (the K-3 classrooms), the grade 4 classroom on the second floor was used as a “Children’s Room”. Children whose parents were busy volunteering were kept busy playing games (such as bingo) under the supervision of Mrs. Justine Cruz-Doyle and her team of helpers.



Mrs. Justine Cruz-Doyle playing bingo with students in the “Children’s Room”



The grade 3 classroom was the “Bake Room”


The Bake Room has always been one of the more popular attractions at the Tea because everyone likes baked goods. Pastries, pies, and other goodies that were generously donated by the families at IHMS were sold here. Every family contributed 3-4 items for the Tea, and while some were used in the Tea room, the rest were sold in the Bake Room. With well over 100 families in the school, there was an incredible selection to choose from!  In addition to baked goods, copies of the old IHMS Cookbook  were also sold in the Bake Room for #10 each.




The grade 2 classroom was the “Display Room”


One of the photographs on the display – a house with a thatched roof
This room contained a large inflatable display on the Ukrainian Canadian pioneer experience from 1891 to 1900. These were the experiences of the very earliest pioneers who came to Canada at the beginning of the first wave.
This professionally made display was on loan from the Winnipeg branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The outside of the structure had information and photographs on the “Journey to Canada” while the inside of the structure had information and photographs on “Making a New Home”.
 The inflatable display of old photographs and information in the “Display Room”



The grade 1 classroom was the “Basket Raffle Room”


In the “Basket Raffle”, families donate items that are wrapped, itemized, and then raffled off. Tickets were:

  • 1 sheet of 25 tickets for $15
  • Grand prize ballots were $5.00 each or $10.00 for 3
  • Family Value Pack: 3 sheets (75 tickets) and 3 Grand Prize Ballots for $40.00




In addition to the basket raffle, the Tea Raffle is one of the most important fund-raising components of the Tea. Tickets for the Raffle are printed and distributed to every family in the school to sell.



The Kindergarten classroom was the “Cloak Room”


Visitors to the school had a safe place to keep their coats while at the Tea.



Since the School Tea takes place during the coldest time of the year in Winnipeg, weather is always an important factor for visitor turnout. The afternoon temperature on Sunday, February 5, 2017 was mild and overcast with grey low hanging clouds. It was a bit dreary but reasonably good weather for the school Tea.


The weather was grey and dreary on the afternoon of the School Tea
On the afternoon of the School Tea, the temperature was -15 C and the windchill was -21 C, very typical weather conditions for the beginning of February in Winnipeg.


By the end of the day, hundreds of visitors passed through the school’s front doors, making the 2017 version of the Annual Tea a complete success. The hard work of everyone involved in the undertaking of an event this large is a testament to the strong community spirit and sense of volunteerism that has held Immaculate Heart of Mary School together for over 111 years. Thanks to everyone who helped to make the Tea such a success, and see you again next year!


 Hundreds of visitors passed through the doors of IHMS, making the 2017 Annual School Tea a spectacular success!





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