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Teacher, Author of poetry and prose

Date and Place of Birth: 1927 in Fedorivka, Kherson oblast, Ukraine; lived through the Holodomor in Ivanivka, Kherson oblast

Date of Interview: February 7, 2017

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Zoriana Kilyk

Length of Interview: 03:45:05 (raw)


Interviewer: Can you describe your general impression of the Ukrainian community in Canada?

ML: I have many reservations. Why? From a nationalist standpoint, and please understand me correctly, everyone who leaves their native homeland disappears through assimilation. It's a matter of time. It could be in the first, second or third generation. They are not Ukrainians. I don't blame them. Because of the way they were raised, the influence of society, the influence of other cultures, etc., they just aren't, anymore. Their roots are torn out; they dry out. And if they have taken root here, and blossom, yes. But that is not the same as being born somewhere. Ukrainian society in general, for almost all its years, is trying to build Ukraine in Canada. It won't work. Why? Because new generations come, just like my children, just like my grandchildren. This is their homeland. Yes?

I was talking with the editors of The New Pathway and of Ukrainian Echo, whom I know well, and they were telling me that everything that we do here, in Ukraine is almost 0 [nothing]. We help financially, materially and so on, but, and here is the punch line, every mother who births Ukrainian children in Ukraine is building Ukraine's future. Every mother who births children in a foreign land is building that foreign land, foreign people. They can tell me this is nationalism, but this is patriotism that forces a person to think, to reconsider, to love their mother. Ok?

We, I am a member of the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC), it used to be “The World Congress of Free Ukrainians (WCFU),” I was an observer from Canada to Ukraine 6 times during elections for the President, and for the Verkhovna Rada and so on. But, when we are throwing banquets here and living in paradise at the same time that they are fighting and dying [there], that bothers me. We work, we contribute everything, etc., but we are not there. Therefore, when I am speaking honestly, like we are speaking right now, with our leaders, they don't want to agree. Because we opened universities, churches, institutions, documentation centres, and so on. Yes, I know all this, I lived it, but we are not there. And all these...I have donated to all of this and continue to donate, but we are foreign to Ukraine. We go there to visit. When a person thinks, analyzes, both history and life, then she is able to make smarter decisions. I will say this: in the 1950s and 60s, we still planned on returning to Ukraine. The Jews after 3000 years of wandering around the world are returning to Israel. And how many of ours have returned? On one hand? This bothers me – why? Because it’s bad there. Yes? But these are my opinions. Others don't accept this because they say we will earn money here and then we can help them. True. But what Ukraine needs is in the head.

When our President Yankukovych swears to the Russian World, to the Russian Patriarch in the Verkhovana Rada of Ukraine, then money will not help us. We need to a national consciousness so that we understand who we are. If we say that we are different than the Russians or the Belarusians or whomever, then we need to show that 'yes we are different!' We don't do that enough. This causes big problems in Ukraine, when a Ukrainian kills another Ukrainian because Russian propaganda is better than ours. Yes? It means, somewhere we goofed! A lot of today's politicians don't want to talk about this. Why? Because it is good for us here. My thoughts are totally different. OK?


• Mykola Latyshko was interviewed about the Holodomor for UCRDC, File #411, Sharing the Story project, audio clip

Mykola Latyshko was interviewed about the Holodomor for UCRDC, File #238, Sharing the Story project, video clip

Falcomer, Lydia. "Holodomor remembered with poignant ceremony in Toronto." Ukrainian Echo. 12 January, 2017

Shah, Maryam. "Remembering those who did not survive the Ukrainian Holodomor." Toronto Sun. 28 Nov. 2015.

excerpt from the Interview with MYKOLA LATYSHKO

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