Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2012


Great Plains Research 22 (Spring 2012):3-14


© 2012 Copyright by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Polish and Ukrainian rural cemeteries in southeastern Manitoba reflect the process of negotiating complex religious, geographic, and ethnic identities within Canadian society. Before 1914 the identities of Slavic immigrants from eastern Europe to western Canada were influenced more by religious affiliation than by geographic origins. This Slavic population, now assimilated into mainstream Anglophone society, retains elements of Polish and Ukrainian on grave markers as expressions of difference and acts of resistance against total homogeneity. In rural Manitoba grave markers record the process of exogamy and cultural blending, while cemetery landscapes replicate the social relationship between cultural groups from the same region in Europe. Headstone designs reflect economic progress, while language use reveals how ethnic identities were, and are, imagined and expressed.