Memorial Service at the Mass Grave

July 30, 2015


On the last Sunday in July since 1984, the Parkland Ukrainian Pioneer Association (PUPA) has faithfully held a memorial service at the site.

For those who may not know the story of the Mass Grave - bit of history. May 1899 the first group of Ukrainian settlers came by horses and wagons to the Patterson Lake area. The families were dropped off and there they waited for their designated land to be surveyed. The cold and wet, weather along with inadequate sheltering caused many children and adults to get sick. In two weeks, 42 children and 3 adults perished from scarlet fever. Some parents lost all their children during that dreadful time. They buried the dead and little wood crosses were erected as markers. What was to be a time to rejoice, raise their families, and become prosperous farmers in this new country of Canada, “land of milk and honey,” turned into a tragic occurrence. Years later as the area was being cleared, remains were discovered. The area was then fenced off and donated by Joe Sitko to the Rural Municipality of Rossburn.

This year as we gathered at the mass Grave site a drizzle turned to a downpour. Father Mykhaylo blessed the area and we all proceeded to Olha hall. The Parkland Ukrainian Pioneer Association (PUPA) committee can’t remember if the memorial service was ever held indoors. Father Mykhaylo Khomitskyy from the Ukrainian Catholic Church and Father Roman Stefanyshyn from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officiated. Fr. Mykhaylo and Fr. Roman each spoke briefly about the tragedy and the hardships experienced by our forefathers when they first came to Canada.

The afternoon was very well attended and a delicious meal was enjoyed by all.

Shirley Kalyniuk

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