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JumpStart Relief Grant Provides Zirka Some Breathing Room

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The Zirka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble recently received approval for a $5,000 grant from Canadian Tire’s JumpStart Sport Relief Fund.

The group’s treasurer Rachel Jensen said the funds will allow the group to continue to operate.

“Because with COVID, our registration numbers are down and our fixed costs are still there,” she said. “So this is really a relief for us to make sure that we’re going to have a group for years to come. Those funds are going to help us a lot just to be able to continue with our operating costs.”

Zirka was not able to hold any classes for a full year, completely shutting down last fall. And even then, Jensen added, the numbers were a fraction of what Zirka usually gets.

“Normally we would have 70 or 80 students and then we went down to about 30 last fall. So that’s a 60 per cent cut on our revenues coming in,” she said. “We’re not in it to make money, but we just need a deal to cover our costs.”

Without the grant, Jensen said Zirka would lose its facility, insurance and instructors.

“We wouldn’t have a group anymore, really,” she said.

This fall, there are about 40 members registered, but the hope is that these funds will help the group to rebuild its numbers.

The grant will also allow Zirka to keep registration fees low.

“The last thing we want to do is to have to look at fee increases to cover costs as we want to keep our programs accessible to families,” Jensen said. “Zirka is not just about Ukrainian dance, it’s mainly about working at ballet techniques, movement, flexibly, co-ordination and group physical activity. Yes, the final pieces are typically in Ukrainian folk costume to traditional music, but we have also done character dances and more contemporary pieces, as well. So you don’t need to be Ukrainian to be a part of it.”

The ensemble holds its classes twice a week, every Monday and Wednesday, in the Métis Community Centre on 11th Ave. SW.

Jensen said Zirka greatly values its partnership with Manitoba Métis Federation and the support it has shown the last 18 months.

“They’ve been a great partner with us. They were willing to adjust some rent for us when we couldn’t hold classes. So they’ve been absolutely great through the times that we didn’t have any money coming in,” Jensen said.

Jensen said they will take students as young as four, all the way to adult.

“Our group has been in operation for nearly 50 years, so we certainly want to try and keep going,” she said.

Canadian Tire Corporation gifted $12 million to the Sport Relief Fund to continue to provide much needed financial support to sport organizations to help build back sport and play through 2021.

“A big thank you to Canadian Tire for considering us. We were very surprised to receive the grant,”

Jensen said, adding if anyone is interested in joining Zirka or wants more information, they can visit the website at dauphinzirka.ca or email zirkaude@gmail.com.