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excerpt from the Interview with MOCHARENKO, TARAS

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Date and Place of Birth: Feb.15,1964, Toronto, Ont. Canada  
Date of Interview: Feb. 19, 2020
Place of Interview: Toronto, Ont. Canada
Length of Interview: 1 hour 9 minutes
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English


Interviewer: What did you like about the Ukrainian community when you were involved in the dancing or the school or whatever?

Taras: I liked everything about it, met my friends, met different  people. And People were still curious at that time but I just blended in, after,  I was [the] only black Ukrainian over there, so it was like, wow, people came out, that was the main attraction, so, especially at Caravan* time, we had at Bathurst**, it was like, everybody just packed [the hall]  every night, it was like, wow, did you see the black Ukrainian people over there.  So me and my sister, just [hit it] off. It was fun..

Interviewer: At some point did you feel uncomfortable?

Taras: Coming from church, you’d hear the whispers from the old people, “Oh did you see the black people standing at the back?” and they would be talking Ukrainian and my sister would….(laughs) I wouldn’t say anything, I just say "Just keep quiet, let them talk, and listen” and she got offended , so she would stand up and she’d say something. They [the people]   would make that face.

Interviewer: What would she say?

Taras: What was her famous “nu i sho, nu”? (well, what of it ?) ? They would say “did you see the black people…, “nu i sho stalos?” In other words, what was the problem?  but she had a funny way of saying it and I never said nothing back, I didn’t have a comeback for it cuz you wouldn’t think they would… but it was funny.

Interviewer: And how long did you dance?

Taras: Twelve years, yeah about twelve years.

Interviewer: And how old were you when you started?

Taras: Grade three, …. grade three, from nine, nine… ten.

Interviewer: For how many, six years, you said?

Taras: Twelve.

Interviewer: Twelve years, my goodness, you must have been a good dancer!

Taras: Yeah, I was, me and my sister, we were good dancers at that time. So we wanted to start  out at Christie*** but they didn’t accept us, so we switched over to Bathurst where they [accepted us ] with open arms.

Interviewer: So why didn’t they accept you?

Taras: The colour barrier

Interviewer: That’s terrible, what did they say, How did they phrase it?

Taras: laughs

Interviewer: ( laughs) Just said, sorry.

Taras: Sorry, yeah

Interviewer: Sorry!

Taras: Yeah,  tried to go to camp, and to do all the Ukrainian functions there but it didn’t happen so, went to Bathurst and they opened, open arms and [ at ] that time  we didn’t want to go to camp anymore so just started dancing and the Ukrainian school.  It was Ukrainian school Friday nights, Saturday, it was Saturday mornings, then there was dance practice after, Saturday and then Monday nights.

Interviewer: For dance?

Taras: Yeah, Ukrainian school twice and dancing was twice [a week].

* Caravan - Toronto’s International  Ethnic Festival (1969-1990) - The Ukrainian pavilion featured Ukrainian dancers, food and culture

** Bathurst Street - location of St.Volodymyr’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Toronto which had dance classes for the dance group “Vesnianka” and Ukrainian school classes

*** Christie Street -  Toronto location of the building housing the Ukrainian organization: "Liha Vyzvolennja Ukrajiny” (Liberation League of Ukraine) and SUM (Ukrainian youth organization)