On the last Friday of every month, Whalley residents flock to the Ukrainian Cultural Centre for home-cooked, fromscratch "Ukrainian soul food."
Since 1955, the centre has put on a perogy supper - dishing out the stuffedcheese dumplings by the dozen - to raise money for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St. Mary next door.
"It's how we support the church," said Katherine Miske, St. Mary's parish president. "It keeps our church and our parish activities going."
"Soul food" typically refers to southern American foods such as cornbread, hushpuppies and grits - but you won't find any of that here.
"Although it is a generic term out of the Deep South, it's a term that we use because it defines our culture in the way of food," said Miske. "For most Eastern Europeans, food is the soul of people - it's what makes them a little bit different."
They serve up cabbage rolls, garlic sausages, borsch, rye bread and, of course, perogies from 4: 30 to 7: 30 p.m.
In the 10 years Josie Diachuk has volunteered, she's seen the community come out by the hundreds to get a good meal while also supporting the church.
"Funds were starting to dwindle and we thought we'd have a perogy supper," said Diachuk of the dinner party's origins. "It's about the best thing that could've happened to us."
She noted that decades ago during hard times, perogies were the only food some people could afford, and growing up on the dish reminds them of their heritage.
"This type of food has become a delicacy as a result of the whole thing," she said.
Miske noted that it's not just churchgoers who come out; the supper draws low-income residents of all walks of life with its reasonable prices and good food.
"It becomes a regular meal for a lot of seniors and a lot of young people," she said. "The area's changing quite a bit now. We have a lot more condos, a lot more young people, a lot more new people."
Diachuk and the dozens of volunteers don't mind spending their Friday nights indoors as they consider serving the community more important than anything else.
"The women that are here, we love to do what we're doing," she said. "That always adds to it."
The Ukranian Cultural Centre is located at 13512 108th Ave.
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