February 2023 marks the beginning of SK Arts' 75th anniversary year. On February 3, 1948, the Saskatchewan Arts Board opened its doors, supporting artists across the province. As we celebrate this milestone, we look to honour the past, the present and the future of the province's vibrant arts community with the We Celebrate You campaign. SK Arts asked 75 established artists to nominate one strong, emerging artist, program or training opportunity that makes the future of Saskatchewan arts exciting.

Valentyna Matushenko choreographed Forest Song - Photo of women dressed like mythical fairies mid dance

Photo: Forest Song, Choreographed by Valentyna Matushenko. Photo Credit: Ken Greenhorn Photography

Valentyna Matushenko

Valentyna Matushenko is the Artistic Director of Leleka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in Saskatoon and has been a professional dancer and teacher for over twenty years in Ukraine and Canada. She has loved dancing since she was a child and believes dancing is the language of her soul. Through choreography, she shares ideas, Ukrainian culture and tradition, which contains the healing, magic, and wisdom she believes should not be lost.

Valentyna has a master's in choreography from the University of Kyiv in Ukraine and recently completed the Easter in Pysanka – Research and Choreography Project in 2022 and choreographed the Lesia Ukrainka play, Forest Song in 2023.

Olya Antoshyn - Poem extract on a card on a table with poetry books and a hand signing an autograph

Photo: Olya Antoshyn Poetry Books

Olya Antoshyn

Olya Antoshyn was born in Ukraine, in the village of Zvenyhorod, in the Ternopil province. In 2009, she moved to Saskatoon. Olya is a designer of outerwear and poet. She wrote her first poem at 14 years old and been writing them since as a short way to convey the depth of events, feelings and emotions and thereby touch another person's soul.

For Olya, each poem is like a window into a house through which she sees life events, fun or sad, happy or tragic. She writes her poems in Ukrainian, tries to add English translations for non-speakers interested in what that poems are about.

Olya has published two books and is working on a third, which will include English translations of each poem to make them accessible to a wider range of readers. She believes poetry is therapy, confession and healing.

“…talks to the soul of women.” — Valentyna Matushenko

I want to bring to light another Ukrainian Canadian talent, Olya Antoshyn. She creates and reads her poems on Instagram and Facebook almost every week. When I hear her poems, they open yet another layer in me. Her poetry is very feminine and wise. The voice of her words talks to the soul of women.

I emphasize women because her poems have women's voices. The themes she touches are many, and even though the love takes first place, they are also filled with hope, pride, motherhood, memories from childhood, love for Canada, and feelings you meet every day. Olya opens them so deep, so unique, and easy to understand. She speaks the language of angels but for people. Her poetry takes big emotions and brings them on a beautiful plate to you. I am honoured to nominate Olya Antoshyn, a gentle poet from Ukraine with a soul who speaks poems.