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excerpt from the Interview with Stephen (Stefko) Ostafichuk

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Stephen (Stefko) Ostafichuk

Date and Place of Birth:  June 17,1958, Oshawa, Ont.
Date of Interview:   Feb. 8, 2021
Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Length of Interview: 76 minutes
Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych
Language: English


Steve:  So basically I call myself “piata khvylia” *, a fifth wave everybody knows about the four waves of immigration. The fifth wave is when you were born and raised in the hromada (community) and you leave for whatever reason, career, life, marriage, whatever and then over a period of time you find your roots and you come back. So I had a thirty year holiday from the Ukrainian community, so when I came back I'm full of vim and vigour and ideas and it's given me a sense of purpose and when I met my wife that just cemented it.

Interviewer: When did you come back?

Steve: 2007 into the community. When I came back to Oshawa I went for a meeting for the hall and the old guys decided that they wanted to sell the place because “de nachi dity?”**…. And that was the theme and I said no we're not selling and they go who the hell are you? and I go, I’m Stefko Ostafichuk.

And everybody said, we thought you were dead, we haven't heard from you for 30 years. And I said, Well give me a month. I physically called, as a head hunter, called up all the people who I grew up with and said we're having a meeting, pay your dues, we are taking over the hall administration and we're going to keep the place running. I actually, literally moved back from Toronto to Oshawa, which did not do my career any good but we kept the hall going for eight more years.

Interviewer: What do you find helpful about the community,  or enjoyable?

Steve: Well everything about the culture is totally enjoyable. I am a history nut and a politically inquisitive person so I'm actively involved in the organizations. The Holodomor was a passion project of mine that I've been involved with since 2008 with Ucrainica***. I’m now involved with the new book that they’re just publishing so I'll be doing distribution for that. I'm the head of the Dnipro Oshawa Fund. When we sold our domivka (community building) we put the money into trust at the BCU Foundation and I’m the chair of the committee that makes donations to Ukrainian projects that we find of value. So we donated to Camp Veselka, to CUF, Canada Ukraine Foundation on the medical missions. We sponsored the latest project for PTSD.

Interviewer: How was it that your mother learned Ukrainian?

Steve: Dido and Baba (granddad and grandma) both were alive when my parents were married. They spoke very little English and mom just totally immersed herself into the community. My mother acted as a teachers’ aide in sadochok (kindergarten), went through Ukrainska shkola (Ukrainian school) and actually graduated her Matura  (graduation certificate) at Jurij Lypa****. She was the oldest student in her graduating class.

My mother was known as Pani (Mrs.) Ivanka. My mom’s name was Janet. They either called her Pani Doctorova or Pani Ivanka. My mom was very actively involved with SUM (Ukrainian youth organization)….And was for a time the head of Zhinocha Liga (Women’s League) out of Oshawa….involved with The National Council of Women and brought the Ukrainian organizations [into the Council] in the 60’s.

* Fifth wave
** Where are our children?
*** Ucrainica Research Institute, based in Toronto
**** School for Ukrainian High School classes in Oshawa