When people ask me what my cultural background is, the first thing I say is “I’m Romanian.” Then I pause and add, “Well, actually I’m one-quarter Romanian and three-quarters British… but I was born in Canada, so I’m Canadian.”
The reason why I’m so quick to identify with my Romanian roots is because as a child I had a great opportunity to learn about and experience this part of my background through music, dance, food, and language. My great-grandparents were part of a group of Romanian settlers who immigrated to the Kayville-Dahinda area of southern Saskatchewan in 1907. They were originally from the town of Rădăuţi, located in northeastern Romania in the historical region of Bukovina.
According to the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, there was a loss of Romanian identity among the descendants of these settlers for various reasons; however, in 1965 the second generation of Romanian Canadians formed the Eminescu Romanian Dance Group in Regina, Saskatchewan, to help bring their cultural background to life.
I feel very blessed to be one of the third generation Canadians who got to spend many years of my childhood learning and performing the dances of my Romanian ancestors. We were taught by Maestro Petre Bodeutz, a wonderful instructor and artistic director whose attention to detail and authenticity were impeccable. Each dance was a living snapshot of a different region of Romania.
This is a video of my sister and I performing a dance called Zamfirica in 1985 at Mosaic, a cultural festival that still takes place in Regina every year.
The senior level dancers were amazing and travelled throughout the world to perform. In this next video from Mosaic 1985, they’re doing a dance that originated in the Mureș Valley of Romania.