HOME  |  ABOUT US  |  FILMS  |  EXHIBITS  |  ARCHIVE  |  PUBLICATIONS  |  EDUCATIONindex.htmlhttp://livepage.apple.com/About_Us.htmlFilms.htmlExhibits-Internment.htmlArchive.htmlPublications.htmlEducation.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3shapeimage_1_link_4shapeimage_1_link_5shapeimage_1_link_6shapeimage_1_link_7

Ukrainian by choice explores the ethnicity of people whose one parent is Ukrainian, the other from a different ethnic background. These respondents all speak Ukrainian as a second or third language, are very proud of their Ukrainian heritage and are active in the Ukrainian community in varying degrees.

Many of these respondents had a Ukrainian parent (or grandparent) who emigrated to North America to escape the political situation in Ukraine. Most were born in Canada or the United States between the 1950’s and 1980’s, at a time when Ukraine was not a free country. Thus it was paramount for the parents that their children maintain the Ukrainian culture, language and traditions. They sent their children to Ukrainian evening schools, dance academies and youth organizations.  Some respondents learned to speak the language of the non-Ukrainian parent, again to varying degrees, but did not participate in that community. As adults many see themselves as Canadian first with a Ukrainian background. Depending on the context some may say they are Ukrainian Canadian. Many have visited Ukraine during Soviet times before 1991, feeling an even stronger sense of belonging once there. And later, in Canada they participated in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

The project’s Interviewer and researcher  Ariadna Ochrymovych has said: “As young people some struggled with their identity, either because they felt they neglected their other ethnicity,  or they were not totally accepted by the Ukrainian community or their Ukrainian parent was particularly over-bearing and forceful. Now as adults they serve and contribute to the Ukrainian community in many different ways, as musicians and performers, politicians, community leaders and organizers, and media promoters.”

Project coordinator Iroida Wynnyckyj states: “In addition UKRAINIAN BY CHOICE aims to record the respondent’s life story. This includes a description of his or her family, schools the respondent attended, work history and the like.”

THE Ukrainian by Choice ORAL HISTORY PROJECT IS FUNDED BY CFUS Curkowskyj Fund.

We are grateful to the Curkowskyj  Fund for the  gift of support which made this project possible.

Excerpts from 
the interviews

Interviewees may decline to provide personal information, such as their date of birth. In these cases this information will not appear on their page.

The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org

The UCRDC depends on voluntary donations – both individual and institutional - for its financing.

It provides receipts for tax purposes.


  1. Antonevych, YARKO

  2. Baker, Yvan

  3. Baziuk-KOZNARSKY, Marta

  4. Bilaniuk, NykolaI

  5. Filijowycz, Maria

  6. Hantzsch, Michael

  7. Mocharenko, Taras

  8. Ostafichuk, LEDA

  9. Ostafichuk, Steve

  10. Solomon, Irene

  11. Stadnyk, Marijka

  12. Sysyn, Frank

  13. Wrzesnewskyj-COTTRELL, Anka


Date and Place of Birth: October 9, 1958, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date of Interview: February 22, 2020
Place of Interview: Toronto, Ont.
Length of Interview: 2 hours 10 minutes

Mother: Kristel von Ranter, b.1923 Germany
Father: Danylo Andrievych Antonevych, b.1923 Stanislaviw, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Yarko Antonevych, a musician and master bandura player, studied classical guitar at the Florida Atlantic University. As a child he attended Bandura camps at Hawkstone and Kyiv and he played with Hnat Khotkevych at 404 Bathurst in Toronto. In 1986-87 he took master classes in Welland, Ontario on the bandura with Konstantin Novytsky from Kyiv. Yarko performs at Ukrainian festivals throughout Canada and the United states, at weddings ( in non- Ukrainian churches) and funerals, on street corners and subways, sometimes blending Ukrainian songs with contemporary music and jazz.

As a youngster, due to his father’s overbearing nature, Yarko often felt forced to attend Ukrainian functions. He felt conflicted about his identity and the Ukrainian community in Oshawa which he found to be narrow-minded and judgemental. He was often criticized for his long hair and braid, did not relate to Ukrainian kursy* which he felt were out of touch with young people and he did not feel supported as a musician. Today he is living in Toronto and is very proud of his Ukrainian heritage.

*Ukrainian high school courses


Date and place of birth: Dec. 8, 1977, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: Dec. 17, 2018 Toronto Ont.
Length of interview: 50 minutes

Mother: Myroslava Oleksiuk b. Sept. 9, 1946, Kiel, Germany
Father: Donald Baker, b. June 4, 1944, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Interviewer: Tetyana Bozhahora
Language: English

Yvan Baker has a BA in business from York University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He has worked as a commercial banker for Scotia Bank, a business management consultant, and as a lecturer at the Schulich School of Business at York University. After working for two years for Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s  political campaign Yvan was encouraged to enter politics. He ran for office in 2004 for Etobicoke Centre and was the MPP in that riding for four years. In 2018 he lost his seat by a very narrow margin. But later that year when Borys Wrzesnewskyj decided to retire as MP, Yvan ran in his riding of Etobicoke Centre and won his seat as a Liberal MP in the federal election of 2019.

Yvan’s maternal grandparents helped raise him and his sister and Yvan was very much influenced by his grandfather. Yvan and Meelena spoke Ukrainian exclusively as young children and their father, Donald was very supportive of their Ukrainian upbringing, driving them to Ukrainian school and dance lessons, sometimes despite their complaints. Neither their father nor their Scottish grandparents were adamant about teaching them about their Scottish roots.

Yvan’s  Ukrainian grandmother had lived through the Holodomor and wanted her children and grandchildren to remember and honour the victims of this and other similar tragedies. Yvan was able to support, through his influence in Parliament, various projects involving the Holodomor, including Canada Ukraine’s project for the Holodomor Mobile classroom, a bus retrofitted with television screens and interfaces that teaches students across Canada about the Holodomor Famine/Genocide of 1932-33 in Ukraine.

Marta Baziuk-Koznarsky

Date and place of birth: Oct 29,1960, Hackensack, N.J. U.S.A.
Date and place of interview: Dec. 20, 2019, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Length of interview: 33 minutes

Mother: Joyce Compton,  b. Houston, Texas, U.S.A., 1926
Father: Volodymyr Baziuk, Tysmennitsia, Ukraine, 1922
Interviewer: Tetyana Bozhahora
Language: English

Marta Baziuk (M.A.  Journalism, Columbia University, New York City) . Marta has more than 25 years experience working in international development and the not-for-profit sector. Shortly after graduation she worked for the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard, responsible for raising funds for the Ukrainian chair at Harvard.

Marta currently serves as Executive Director of the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC), a project of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta with an office in Toronto. In this role, she works to promote knowledge and awareness of the Holodomor through a range of research, education, conferences and other outreach activities, engaging academic audiences and the broader public.

Marta has been involved professionally with Ukraine since its independence. In the early 1990s, while representing the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), she worked with Ukrainian activists to establish the first nationwide election monitoring organization, the Non-Partisan Committee of Voters. As Field Program Officer for Winrock International, Marta oversaw the establishment of a network of women’s centers that offer job skills training programs, domestic violence hotlines, and other services.

For the past five years, Marta has led the initiative Postcards for Prisoners: Ukrainian Political Prisoner Project. Postcards for Prisoners is an activist group dedicated to raising awareness about the Ukrainian prisoners unjustly held in Russian prisons and providing them with support through letter-writing.


Date and place of birth: Apr. 27, 1962, Toronto, ON
Date and place of interview: Dec. 3, 2019, Toronto, ON
Length of interview: 42 minutes

Mother: Marie Therese Limbach, b. Aug. 10, 1936, Bad Godesberg, Germany
Father: Petro Borys Bilaniuk, b. Aug.4, 1932, Zalishchyky, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ihor Tomkiw
Language: English

Nykolai’s father, Petro Bilaniuk, age 17, came to Montreal, Quebec in 1949 with this parents from a DP camp in Germany, after fleeing the Russian occupation of Ukraine. Professor Petro Bilaniuk* completed his B.A. in theology in Montreal, his M.A. in Rome and his PhD in Munich where he met his German wife, Marie. They married and he returned to Canada with her in 1961 and taught Religious Studies at the University of Toronto. Nykolai’s mother obtained a PhD in German Literature from the University or Toronto. She first learned Ukrainian from her in-laws, as they lived in the same house early on.  She spoke to her children in Ukrainian, German with her husband at first, then gradually she spoke Ukrainian with everyone.

Nykolai Bilaniuk has BASc and MASc degrees from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He works in telecommunications and network monitoring.

Nykolai met Miroslawa Melech, (a Ukrainian born in Poland) at a bikeathon in Toronto in 1983, organized by Ukrainian Canadian Congress to call attention to the Holodomor during its fiftieth anniversary.  They married in 1987 in Toronto and were both offered stipends at Carnegie Mellon for their PhD studies. In 1992 they moved to Ottawa and had two children. Nykolai is very active in the Ukrainian community in Ottawa, holding key positions in Plast over the years. His son is now stanychnyj** . Nykolai was President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress-Ottawa branch from 2011-2014, Director of Kursy Ukrajinoznavstva,*** on the Parents’ Committee at the Ukrainian school,  National Head of the Shevchenko Scientific Society and a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association.

* On June 1, 1980, His Grace Isidore Borecky, the Ukrainian Catholic Bishop of Toronto, ordained Professor Bilaniuk to the Diaconate. The Confessor of the Faith, His Beatitude Patriarch Joseph I Cardinal Slipyj, ordained him to the Holy Presbyterate on April 18, 1981; and on February 15, 1982, on the occasion of his own 90th birthday, he awarded Father Petro the silver pectoral cross. On October 14, 1985, His Beatitude Myroslav Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky raised him to the dignity of Archpriest and Honorary Canon.

** Head of Ukrainian Youth Organization “Plast” - Ottawa
*** Ukrainian high school course


Date and place of birth: Feb. 6,1957, Montreal, P.Q. Canada
Date and place of interview: Feb.24, 2020, Toronto, ON
Length of interview: 46 minutes

Mother: Maria Antonia Mallozzi, b. Jan. 22, 1931, Minturno, Italy
Father: Wasyl Filijowycz, b. Dec. 13, 1922, Bereziv Vyznyj, Ukraine
Interviewer: Roksolana Slywynska
Language: English

As the Russian front advanced into Ukraine Maria’s father, age 18, fled to Austria. From the DP camp in Austria in 1944 he emigrated to Montreal, Quebec with his two cousins.  In 1951 her mother, Maria Antonia, left her small village near Rome, Italy with her sister, seeking employment in Montreal. Maria’s parents both worked in the garment industry, Wasyl as a tailor, Maria Antonia a seamstress. They married in January, 1956 at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Montreal.

Maria was born in Montreal and attended Ukrainian school and the Ukrainian Catholic Church, completed Kursy* and was a member of SUM.** She obtained her BA in Occupational Therapy from McGill University in 1979 and worked in a Psychiatric hospital for 3 years. She moved to Toronto in 1982 and married Andrij Genyk-Berezowsky in 1985. She has worked  consistently in the mental health field, in Pediatric Rehab at Erin Oak in Mississauga, at Baycrest Hospital but mostly at Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto. She and her husband have raised their children in the Ukrainian community, enrolling them in Ukrainian school and Plast. As a volunteer, Maria helped establish the Masters Program in Occupational Therapy at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

In 1975, during the Soviet era,  Maria, age 18, and her Italian mother took an Intourist tour to Ukraine. Maria’s mother spoke adequate Ukrainian since this was the language the family spoke at home. They managed to clandestinely visit her father’s village for a few hours, but were reported to the authorities. Maria’s father was afraid of Soviet repercussions and chose not to go to Ukraine.

Maria hopes to learn Italian when she retires.

* Kursy - Ukrainian high school course
** SUM - Ukrainian youth organization


Date and place of birth: Dec.8,1954, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: Feb.14, 2020, Calgary Alberta, Canada
Length of interview: 26 minutes

Mother: Irene Gerczuk, b. 1922 Lviv, Ukraine
Father: Ottokar Wilhelm Hantzsch, b. 1923 Odessa, Ukraine
Interviewer: Chrystia Kolos
Language: English

Michael Hantzsch graduated in 1978 from the University of Toronto with a degree in Chemical Engineering and moved to Calgary  in 1980 to work for Shell Canada. Currently he is working for  Kiwetinohk Resources Corporation ( a private energy company) in Calgary, as Chief Operating Officer of their Energy Division and also Senior Vice President of Market Development.

Michael’s father, Otto, was born in Ukraine, but he moved to Germany with his German parents in 1933. He met and married Michael’s mother in Germany in 1951 and they came to Canada in 1952. During the war Otto spent five years in a Russian prisoner of war camp and escaped but he never  wanted to talk about these experiences to his son. Michael  has visited with his German relatives and corresponds with them yearly in English, as his German is very limited.

Michael considers himself Canadian by birth but Ukrainian by heritage.  Michael and his wife, Petrusia Sirant, have encouraged their two daughters to participate in Plast* and in the Ukrainian community in Calgary . His ties to Ukraine are very strong due to his mother’s and his great uncle’s influence. Michael was on the National executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress for nine years, is now an advisor to the Board of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress branch in Calgary, on the Board of Directors of the Ukrainian Professional and Businessmen's Association and an advisor on the Church Council, Church of the Assumption in Calgary. He has also been a life long and very active and supportive member of Plast. In 2012 he travelled to Ukraine for  the 100th anniversary of Plast and in 2004 Michael was an observer for the elections in Ukraine.

*Plast - Ukrainian youth organization


Date and place of birth: Feb.15,1964, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: Feb.19, 2020, Toronto Ont. Canada 
Length of interview: 1 hour 9 minutes

Mother: May Stevens, b. Feb.4,1946 Shelburne, Nova Scotia, Canada
Father: Petro Mocharenko, b. March 27,1927, Kamianets Podilsky, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Taras Mocharenko’s father came to Canada from Germany in 1956, after escaping from Ukraine during WWII. He met Taras’ mother, May Stevens,  a 3rd generation African Nova Scotian at a Jehovah Witness church in downtown Toronto. Her great grandfather was born in Acadia, Nova Scotia.  Being of mixed race,  Taras and his sister Tania sometimes experienced discrimination within the Ukrainian community when they were younger but were whole-heartedly accepted by the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, St. Volodymyr’s in Toronto.

Taras met his wife Natalie, born in Kyiv, at a Ukrainian zabava (dance) and they married in 1999 on the Toronto Island Ferry. Their teenage boys speak Ukrainian, took Ukrainian classes and attend church with their parents either at a Ukrainian Orthodox Church or Ukrainian Catholic Church in their neighbourhood in Toronto. His older son, Daniel (17) visited Ukraine with his uncle when he was eleven years old but Taras has never been to Ukraine. Taras has been a Canada Post worker for over 20 years.

Taras’ father really wanted Taras and Tania to dance and sent them to Ukrainian school and Ukrainian dance classes at St. Volodymyr’s. The family always celebrated both Chrismases, honouring all the Ukrainian traditions, including throwing “kutia”* up to the ceiling.

*Kutia - a traditional Ukrainian dish, a spoonful thrown to the ceiling at Christmas for prosperity

LEDA Ostafichuk

Date and place of birth: Oct.11,1960, Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: Feb. 22, 2021, Toronto, Ont. 
Length of interview: 1 hour 27 minutes

Mother: Janet Evelyn Thompson, b. Nov. 2,1929, Kerrobert, Sask. Canada
Father: Mykola Ostafichuk, b. Feb. 24,1919, Trostyanets, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Leda Ostafichuk received her MA in Education from York University in 1998. She taught elementary school in Toronto, then worked as a Vice Principal at St. Josaphat’s Catholic School for five years and since 2013 has been the Principal there. As an administrator at St. Josaphat’s, where the children are primarily Ukrainian speakers, Leda is committed to maintaining Ukrainian traditions in the school such as St. Nicholas Day, the Ukrainian Christmas concert and Easter egg decorating. She’s had Bandurysty* and Canadian Ukrainian authors visiting the school, as well as Ukrainian soldiers participating in the Invictus Games.

But Leda’s principal occupation was as a parent to her five children who all are fluent in Ukrainian, their father also being Ukrainian. They are all in their 30’s now and have all visited Ukraine, but none of them married a Ukrainian. Leda has 14 grandchildren.

Leda’s mother, though born and bred in Canada of Acadian and British descent, became totally fluent in Ukrainian and was head of the Ukrainian Women’s League in Oshawa, getting the league to participate in the National Council of Women of Canada and even at the United Nations.

As a child and the youngest of four Leda spoke Ukrainian to her father and at family gatherings but with her three brothers she spoke mostly English as they had already been to school and spoke English fluently.

*Members of the Ukrainian Men’s Choir who play the bandura, a traditional Ukrainian instrument.

Stephen (Stefko) Ostafichuk

Date and place of birth: June 17,1958, Oshawa, Ont.
Date and place of interview: Feb. 8, 2021, Toronto, Ont. 
Length of interview: 1 hour 16 minutes

Mother: Janet Evelyn Thompson, b. Nov. 2,1929, Kerrobert, Sask. Canada
Father: Mykola Ostafichuk, b. Feb. 24,1919, Trostyanets, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Stefko Ostafichuk studied Political science and Sociology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. For 38 years he has worked as an international researcher/recruiter in the staffing business in technology and new product development.

Stefko’s father, Mykola, was very active in Prosvita* and helping the OUN** in Trostyanets. Fleeing persecution in Ukraine from the Soviets after WWII, Mykola and his parents stayed in a Displaced Person’s Camp in Landeck, Austria for two years. Mykola had studied medicine in Innsbruck previously and was able to obtain a contract with the Canadian government to work as a doctor with the Indigenous First Nations in Nanaimo B.C. He arrived in Edmonton, Alberta with his parents in 1948 and worked in Nanaimo until 1953. He completed his residency in Victoria, B.C. where he met his wife, Janet Thompson, a paediatric nurse. They were married in a Ukrainian church in Edmonton and Janet, of Acadian and British heritage, quickly adopted the Ukrainian language and culture.

Stefko, his two brothers and his sister Leda were brought up in the Ukrainian community in Oshawa, attending Ukrainian school, completing their matura***, dancing in the Ukrainian dance group, and taking part in International jamborees with the Ukrainian youth organization SUM.

Knowing that the family housekeeper and nanny, Mrs. Karpenko, lost two children during the Holodomor, Steve has been very active developing, fundraising and distributing educational materials about the Ukrainian genocide. He produced a nine minute video about a child’s experience living through the Holodomor which was shown on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to MPs and Senators in November, 2012 for the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor.

Stefko says that his prime motivator is his passion for Ukrainian democracy and sovereignty after decades of subjugation.  He honours his family's memory and the many millions who died for Ukrainian independence by moving this cause forward. That also entails raising funds for the olympic pool, new kitchen, playground and  chapel at camp Veselka, where Steve volunteers as a caretaker.

* Ukrainian organization promoting Ukrainian culture and education.
** Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
*** Ukrainian graduation certificate


Date and place of birth: October 10, 1961, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: February 20, 2020, Toronto, Ont. Canada 
Length of interview: 1 hour 19 minutes

Mother: Maria Jaerling, b. 1932, Germany
Father: Stephan Solomon, b. 1920, Molodkiv, Ukraine
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Irene Solomon ( B.A. Radio and Television Arts, Ryerson University)
has worked as a television producer, director, news director and camera operator for TSN, City TV, City Pulse (CP24 for 16 years), Bloomberg and SUN News. Currently she is freelancing. At home she spoke Ukrainian with her father and a mixture of Ukrainian and English with her German mother. Although her mother was originally Protestant she took her confirmation at St. Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.

As a teen Irene played violin in the Ukrainian orchestra, under the direction of Professor Ivan Kowaliw. With the orchestra she traveled to different cities in the United States and Canada to perform concerts. She also attended SUM* summer camp and went to Ukrainian kursy* at St . Nicholas school. In high school Irene took a German course and later travelled to Germany and Ukraine.

Since Maidan* Irene has become much more active in the Ukrainian community. She joined the Euromaidan committee through the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, helping to mobilize people for protest marches and through her contacts in the media to promote awareness of the Maidan for Canadians. While working with CP24 she often invited Ukrainian dancers to perform live on television to promote Ukrainian Independence Day in Toronto. Now she helps with yearly media promotion for the Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations and many other events in Toronto.

*SUM - Ukrainian youth organization
*Kursy - Ukrainian high school courses
*Maidan - 2014 Revolution in Ukraine

Maria stadnyk

Date and place of birth: July 11,1957, Toronto, Ont. Canada
Date and place of interview: March4, 2020, Toronto, Ont
Length of interview: 1 hour 15 minutes

Mother: Frances Liakopoulous, b. Amalada, Greece
Father: Stefan Yakubiw, b. Dobromyl, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Marijka Stadnyk ( B.A. International Relations) has been a history teacher for over 30 years. She's also worked for the Ministry of Labour after graduation. Her father was a very prominent member of the Ukrainian community, fully involved in many Ukrainian organizations, SUM* in particular, and a patriot of both Ukraine and Canada. Working as an ostarbeiter** in Germany during the war he emigrated to Canada in 1951.

Marijka’s first language was Ukrainian and they spoke Ukrainian in the family. Her Greek mother learned Ukrainian, was a member of the Ukrainian Catholic women's league and a practicing Ukrainian Catholic. Marika’s father was very supportive of his wife’s family and sponsored his sister-in-law’s move to Canada from Greece.

Marijka completed “Kursy” (Ukrainian high school courses), and loved her summers at SUM* camp where she eventually met her husband, Roman. She feels she had a very special upbringing and feels she has an obligation to help Ukraine and help the Ukrainian Canadian Community prosper. She's been a member of the Executive Board of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Toronto branch, for over 10 years, chaired committees, fundraised and was an election observer in Ukraine. Marijka's children, now in their 30s, all speak Ukrainian and belong to Ukrainian organizations. It is her father who instilled in her a care and love for the Ukrainian Canadian Community and for Ukraine. Marijka also learned Greek and spent many happy celebrations with her mother's family, birthdays, weddings, etc. but Christmas, Easter, St. Nicholas Day - the Ukrainian holidays ( Sviata) were always celebrated very traditionally.

*SUM - Ukrainian youth organization
**Ostarbeiter - (Eastern workers). The German term for several million civilians from the 'conquered eastern territories' taken to Germany for forced labor during W.W.II.


Date and place of birth: December 27, 1946, Passaic N.J., U. S.A.
Date and place of interview: December 20, 2018 Toronto Ont.
Length of interview: 1 hour 20 minutes

Mother: Hattie Miller, b.1924, Passaic N.J. U. S.A.
Father: Fedir Theodor Sysyn b. 1923, Clifton N.J. U.S.A.
Interviewer: Tetyana Bozhahora
Language: English

Professor Frank Sysyn is presently the DIrector of the Peter Jacyk Center for Ukrainian Historical Research, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta; Professor of History and Classics at the University of Alberta and Head of the Executive Committee for the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium based in Toronto.

Frank studied at Princeton (Soviet Studies), University of London, Slavonic Studies, (M.A. History) and Harvard (Ph.D. History) and has taught History of Ukraine and Eastern Europe  at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and the University of Alberta.  He is the recipient of many awards and Fellowships, including the Harvard Prize Fellowship, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and the Fulbright.

Frank was Editor in chief of Mykhailo Hrushevsky, History of Ukraine-Rus’ Vol 3 & Vol 10 and Editor in chief of Mykhailo Zubryts’kyi, Zibrany tvory. His books and publications, among others,  include Mykhailo Hrushevsky: Historian and National Awakener; Between Poland and the Ukraine: The Dilemma of Adam Kysil; Contextualizing the Holodomor: The Impact of Thirty Years of Research on the Ukrainian Famine and The Ukrainian Orthodox Question in the USSR.

His administrative work includes positions as Coordinator, Seminar in Ukrainian Studies, Harvard University; Associate Editor, Harvard Ukrainian Studies; Director, Ukrainian Summer Institute, Harvard University , IREX Committee for Eastern Europe, Social Science Research Council for the Former Soviet Union (1994-96); Vice-President for North America, International Association of Ukrainianists ( 2003-06) and long time Academic Advisor to the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center.

Frank’s paternal grandparents emigrated to the United States from Ukraine, his grandfather in 1905. His maternal grandparents were born in New Jersey. Frank’s father was born in Clifton N.J. his mother, of Irish and Dutch descent, was born in Passaic N.J. Her maiden name Molenaar, was changed to Miller. His paternal grandmother spoke Ukrainian to Frank but English was the main language in the home. As a youth, Frank did not belong to any Ukrainian organizations but spent summers in Hunter, New York, where “everything was Ukrainian”. He shared his father’s passion for history and politics and ultimately pursued Soviet and Slavic studies. With Ukraine’s independence Ukraine became a “more real country” that opened up new friends and scholarly contacts for Frank. It gave great validity to things he and his colleagues had worked on to advance Ukraine’s cause i.e. Holodomor studies, the Harvard project and the fight for democracy and justice in Ukraine, among others.


Date and place of birth: April 25, 1991, Toronto, ON Canada
Date and place of interview: February 14, 2020, Toronto, ON
Length of interview: 47 minutes

Mother: Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj, b. Feb 5, 1954, Toronto, ON, Canada
Father: Andy Cottrell, b. Mar. 13, 1949, Halifax, NS, Canada
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English

Anka studied Art and Design at the University of Guelph and the Ontario College of Art. She then received a Certification in NGO Management from George Brown College.  She  is the Senior Program Co-ordinator for Help us Help the Children, a charity based in Toronto, and affiliated with a sister charity in Ukraine.  They teach transferable life skills to orphans in Western Ukraine, by running summer and winter camps in the Carpathian mountains. The organization also runs a rehabilitation program for Ukrainian soldiers suffering from PTSD.

Anka’s maternal grandparents came to Canada from Western Ukraine as young adults in the late1940s. They met at Plast in Winnipeg and married in 1952. After moving to Toronto they opened Future bakery in 1953 near the Ukrainian Catholic Church On Queen Street.  Here Anka had her first job as a teller, also stocking shelves. Anka’s maternal grandparents were very much involved with raising Anka and her three sisters within the Ukrainian community. Anka attended Plast and Ukrainian school in Toronto.  But from the time she was four she spent summers in Ukraine with her sisters and parents in her great-aunt’s village in the Carpathian Mountains where she enjoyed playing with her cousins, steeped in the Ukrainian culture,  and learned to pick mushrooms and milk goats. She credits these trips, above all, for her deep bonding with Ukraine.

As a family tradition every Christmas  and Easter her grandfather would write a poem and read it before the meal. These poems were very treasured and kept in a binder over the years.