Insights About Our Ancestors—Opening a Window Into the Past for Readers with Ukrainian Roots

What would your life have been like if you had lived in Ukraine when the first wave of Ukrainian immigrants began to arrive in Canada towards the end of the 19th century?

And who were they—those people who left Ukraine in search of a better life, whose genes we carry, whose dreams and fears, values and beliefs, shaped the lives of our parents and grandparents, our first teachers?

If we could reach out to our immigrant ancestors across the decades, what would they say? What might they teach us? Would we understand?

We are separated from them not only temporally, but by the challenging barriers of geography and culture. It is language, however, that is often the most daunting impediment to our quest for self - understanding. The works of the leading women authors of this era, now available in English translation in this series, allow us to experience the varied and compelling life stories of the ordinary people of their time.

The reasons our grandparents and great - grandparents left their homeland are well known: poverty, social inequities, political persecution, and cultural oppression. History books document the conditions that shaped the lives of our immigrant ancestors; it is literature, however, that gives their story a human face.

Our individual images of our collective past are not only highly personal, but often fragmented and incomplete. Constructed from snippets of conversations, old photographs, only partially understood folk rhymes and songs, fragments of history courses, and the odd book of recollections written by pioneers—the bits of the puzzle do not form and interlocking whole, and the picture remains hidden.

For many of us too many pieces are missing for even an overall shape or outline to emerge. Contradictions and arguments further cloud the issue, and misconceptions abound. Some pieces just do not seem to fit, while others fit one person's puzzle, but not another's.

We are not the first, and certainly not the last, to try to coax a picture out of the bits and pieces of information and misinformation from our childhood. The authors featured in this series have filled in parts of the picture for us. It is our hope that their voices will speak to you as they spoke to us, and that your personal puzzle with take on a more clearly defined form.


Making the Works of Ukrainian Women Writers Available in English.

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