“Vitayemo! It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the 45th annual Vegreville Pysanka Festival – a spectacular celebration of Ukrainian arts and culture that we have enjoyed since it began. We are very honoured to be your Hospodars.”
Gene and Christine have been active members of the Canadian Ukrainian community for over 5 decades thanks to the inspiration of their parents, Alec and Anna Zwozdesky (formerly of Sangudo), and Leo and Natalka Faryna (formerly of Edmonton). Both are graduates of the University of Alberta, former Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, former CYMK Choir members, former Ukrainian Sunday School teachers and Board Members of St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral.
– Gene and Christine Zwozdesky
Christine is a former President of both the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA Edmonton) and the Edmonton Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW). She is in her second term on the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), currently Past Chair, and is in her eighth year as a Director of the Capital Region Housing Corporation. Christine is a long-term Executive member of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada, St. John’s Cathedral Branch, where she also served as President. She is a choral member of both the Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree, which fund-raises for numerous community projects, and the Crescendo Choir, which fund-raises for mental health programs and initiatives.
Gene is the former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta where he served 22 years as an MLA and held several major cabinet portfolios, including Minister of Health, Education, Culture, and Aboriginal Relations. He was awarded the Order of Ukraine Medal for creating the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Act in Alberta. He also received two Medals from Queen Elizabeth, the Canadian Multiculturalism Award, the Alberta Cultural Achievement Award, and the Edmonton Ambassador Award, for his work as a volunteer.
Gene sings with the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton and St. John’s Cathedral Choir. He is also President of the Alberta Association of Former MLAs, Vice-President of the Order of St. Andrew, Secretary of the Alberta Benevolent Cantors Association, Treasurer of the Northern Bluegrass Circle, Board Member of the Blueberry Bluegrass and Country Music Festival, and is Chairman of the National Jubilee Committee celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. In 1991, Gene was the Executive Producer of the National Centennial Celebration of the Ukrainian Settlement in Canada. In 2016, he was Executive Producer of “SVIATO 25” – the largest, single-day outdoor celebration of Ukrainian arts, culture and spirituality in Canadian history, which honoured 25 years of Ukraine’s independence. He is also the former Music Director of Shumka, Cheremosh, Tryzub, and Rusalka dance ensembles, and was inducted into CFCW’s Ukrainian Music Hall of Fame.
Gene and Christine live in Edmonton, have two married children, and 3 grandchildren.