Strengthening Doukhobor connections is the theme of this year’s USCC Union of Youth Festival, which starts Saturday.
The USCC (Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ) Union of Youth organize the annual festival every May long weekend — now in its 64th year.
“This year [the theme] is talking about community,” said Tasha Repin, a member of the Union of Youth Council.
Repin said the Doukhobor community is in the midst of restructuring, and it’s important to bring everyone together during this time.
One of the purposes of the annual event is to get people reacquainted with the culture and community of Doukhobors.
Starting on Saturday, the children involved with Sunday School will participate in their children’s festival, beginning at 10 a.m.
Repin said the picnic lunch on Saturday will give everyone a chance to visit and connect before the evening program.
The Saturday evening program, held at the Brilliant Cultural Centre, features youth from the Kootenays as well as other areas around the province and Alberta.
“It’s more of a variety show,” Repin said. “It’s the best of the best and the highlights of the year.”
Since the choirs are based on a cappella music, the show will be less traditional with more folk singing and instruments, as well as skits.
Repin said the annual festivals are not just a way to reconnect with Doukhobor heritage, but it’s a reunion of sorts.
“Because everyone is kind of family, it’s definitely our way to connect,” she said.
Sunday will begin with a traditional prayer service. Repin said not everyone that participates in the festival may be as connected with Doukhobor traditions as others, so the prayers are translated and explained in English as well.
From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a traditional Doukhobor lunch will be served by the ladies’ group, with proceeds going to their activities in the community. The tickets will be available at the door and presold throughout the festival.
In the afternoon, choirs from the Saturday evening program will wear their traditional Doukhobor dress and costumes for a performance.
“Sunday is a more spiritual day,” Repin said.
The festival wraps up on Monday with their annual sports day, beginning at 11 a.m. There will be games for children, a softball game for older youth and adults and a soccer game for younger members.
“The whole festival is open to the public,” Repin said. “You don’t have to be Doukhobor to attend.”
Tickets for the Saturday evening show are $18 for adults, $12 for members and $5 for children 12 and under. For more information, please call 250-365-6313.