From: The Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples/Belarusans/Madeline Ziniak
A Belarusan literary association, Bayavaya Uskalos (Kernels of Struggle), was formed in 1949 in Toronto. The same year it issued a literary magazine, Bayavaya uskalos (Militant Ascent), compiling the works of Belarusan writers and poets in exile. The first editor was Mikalai Pankov, who had immigrated to the United States, and the first five issues were published bimonthly in New York. The remaining twelve issues were produced in Toronto by the next editor, Serhei Khmara.
In 1952 the BNA began to sponsor political and cultural events. Concerts with Belarusan dance groups and choirs took place in Toronto, some conducted jointly with other ethnocultural communities at such events as the Canadian National Exhibition. Participation in Canadian political life was demonstrated by involvement in Dominion Day (Canada Day) parades and other public celebrations. The BNA annually commemorated proclamation of Belarusan independence on 25 March 1918 with celebrations in Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg. It also initiated the Mutual Co-operation League in Toronto (1955), which encompassed twenty ethnic groups and organized multicultural events to mark Canadian holidays with plays, veterans’ parades, and other demonstrations. The league was dissolved in 1965.
Distinct Belarusan cultural organizations began to form in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Saskatoon. In Winnipeg the Belarussian National Committee (1950) and the Belorussian Arts Society (1951) coordinated cultural projects involving drama, choirs, and art exhibits on Belarusan and Canadian national holidays. A group in Montreal in 1952 formed the Association of Belarussians, which organized a male choir and a drama group that performed also in Toronto and set up Canada’s first Belarusan-language school in 1952. Two issues of Pales’e, a journal of literature and art, appeared in 1955, also in Montreal. Saskatoon had an active Belarusan Baptist group, whose religious choir performed across the prairie provinces.
Serhei Khmara began two literary supplements – Syhnaly (Signals; Toronto, 1957–61) and Malanka (Lightning; Toronto, 1957–62). Joseph Babrosky of North Bay was editor of the critical review Dyatsel (Woodpecker; Toronto, 1951–52); Adam Mashchonsky of Burlington contributed items on Belarusan-Canadian youth; and Yanka Moroz of Windsor wrote poetry about the homeland and its struggle for freedom.
Yasep Taupa was a Yukon poet whose work was descriptive of the Canadian tundra, where he worked as a prospector; he also wrote about the Belarusan pioneers on the prairies. Kastus Navitsky of Winnipeg wrote poetry about the homeland. Vasil Verbina of Toronto in 1951 became editor of the satirical tabloid Puha (The Whip).
In 1952 Serhei Khmara, Mikalai Pankov, Ianka Stasevich, and Vasil Vir founded the Kastus Kalinouski Research Institute, with branches in Toronto and New York. The institute published the periodical Dokumenty i fakty (Documents and Facts; Toronto, 1952– ), which explored recent research on Belarusan history. Also in 1952 Khmara formed the Belarussian Insurance Society, Pahonia (Knights), as an independent branch of the Ukrainian Workers Union. He also formed that same year the Committee for Free Byelorussia, which included international membership. Associated with the BNA in Canada, the Belarussian Women’s Committee was created in 1965 in Toronto and participated in the annual multicultural exhibit at Toronto City Hall, “Easter around the World.” It collected funds for the purchase of a 300-piece collection of arts and crafts that was donated to the Museum of Civilization in Hull.
In 1960 the Belarussian Canadian Co-ordinating Committee (BCCC) was formed in Toronto to organize joint celebrations between the BNA and the BCA. The new co-ordinating body published in two parts a language text, Fundamental Byelorussian (1974–78). The BCA’s women members formed the Belorussian Canadian Women’s Association in 1965. In 1967 Pahonia, the Belorussian Publisher’s and Arts Club, was founded by Anton Markievich, with the objective of publishing Belarus-related material. Second-generation Belarusans in Toronto formed the Belarusan Youth Association, which helped set up a Belarusan pavilion, Miensk, at Metro International Caravan.
In 1977 Serhei Khmara founded the Canadian Ethnic Journalists and Writers Club (CEJWC) in cooperation with the Toronto Press Club. By 1995 the CEJWC consisted of some 200 members, reflecting 43 languages, from print and electronic media, who meet monthly.
Byelorussian Voice, maintained by subscriptions, paid advertising, and donations, was published until Khmara’s death in 1992. It was the only surviving Belarusan newspaper in Canada. Readers included Belarusans in Australia, England, South America, and the United States. Its editorial position advocated Canadianization through integration and cultural retention.