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excerpt from the Interview with LEDA Ostafichuk

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leda Ostafichuk

Date and Place of Birth:  Oct.11,1960, Oshawa, Ont. Canada
Date of Interview:   Feb. 22, 2021
Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Length of Interview: 1 hour and 27 minutes
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English


Interviewer: Anything in particular that you and your family did that was a Ukrainian tradition?

Leda:  One would be Sviatyj Mykolaj (St. Nicholas) at the church… we’d have a concert and we’d be singing “oj khto,khto” and Mykolaj giving out all the gifts and that was always a family affair. Another one would be Sviat Vechir* and we would have the twelve stravy** and tato (dad) would always take the kutya*** and throw it up on the ceiling. That was awesome.

Interviewer: He did this every year ?

Leda: Yeah, and I maintain it and I, (laughs) I even did it this year.  I had Steve and Carol here, we were here and we had a zoom meeting going on..….I had my kutya, everybody has their kutya ready [on a spoon]. One, two, three , so all six of us [throw it] on the ceiling. Mine’s the best, I had the whole thing, maybe five, six kernels of wheat falling down.

Interviewer: What is the meaning of that?

Leda: However many kernels of wheat and poppy seed that stay on the ceiling, that’s how blessed your year will be. It’s for good fortune and good health for the year. Another family tradition would be writing pysanky (Easter eggs) both when I was growing up with my brothers and with my kids.

I taught my kids as well cuz it’s a beautiful art piece. It’s batik on an egg. When you look behind the whole idea of it, what’s the meaning, the significance - if you look from the Christian point of view and where it stems from, this is what I taught my kids. This is life, this is what it’s all about  - the symbolism.  There’s a legend that the moment we stop writing pysanky that’s when Mother Earth... That’s when we cease to exist.

Interviewer: Do you feel close to the Ukrainian Canadian community?

Leda: I guess it would depend on which wave [immigration]. Like my peers, absolutely. That’s a real interesting question. I work at St. Josaphat’s [school] and the majority of the kids or parents of the kids who are there are the newer wave of immigrants so they have a different outlook than the ones my parents [had] and what we grew up with, but be that as it may, I would say that we’re kind of a bridge for them because they’ve just come. They’ve got to understand and learn what this Canadian society and Canadian culture is all about… yet they come with a certain mindset…. So I don’t feel that close with them. I can be a mentor for them, to help them if they need it.

They’re a different generation and they come with different life-lived experiences than mine. I’m born and raised here in Canada.

Interviewer: Have you visited Ukraine??

Leda: I haven’ t yet. I would like to go. I dreamed the day I would go to see Lviv, see all the places that the father of my kids always talked about. I want to go visit Kolomyja.**** I want to go see the gymnasia (high school)  where tato went. I want to see Trostyanets****. I want to walk through the mountains, the Chorni Hory (Black Hills), up into Karpaty (Carpathians). I want to go to Kyiv… maybe down to Donbas. Because growing up, you know “Ukraina rah, rah, Ukraine”, freedom fighters and going to Ottawa in the 70’s to fight for freedom of our political prisoners, whether it was Valentin Moroz, or Stus, Ivan Stus. Then there were the women who were the “polit viazni” (political prisoners).

* Holy Christmas Eve

** Twelve traditional courses for Christmas Eve dinner

*** Traditional poppy seed desert for Christmas

**** Cities in Ukraine