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Ukrainian by choice explores the ethnicity of people whose one parent is Ukrainian, the other from a different ethnic background. These respondents all speak Ukrainian as a second or third language, are very proud of their Ukrainian heritage and are active in the Ukrainian community in varying degrees.

Many of these respondents had a Ukrainian parent (or grandparent) who emigrated to North America to escape the political situation in Ukraine. Most were born in Canada or the United States between the 1950’s and 1980’s, at a time when Ukraine was not a free country. Thus it was paramount for the parents that their children maintain the Ukrainian culture, language and traditions. They sent their children to Ukrainian evening schools, dance academies and youth organizations.  Some respondents learned to speak the language of the non-Ukrainian parent, again to varying degrees, but did not participate in that community. As adults many see themselves as Canadian first with a Ukrainian background. Depending on the context some may say they are Ukrainian Canadian. Many have visited Ukraine during Soviet times before 1991, feeling an even stronger sense of belonging once there. And later, in Canada they participated in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence in 1991.

The project’s Interviewer and researcher  Ariadna Ochrymovych has said: “As young people some struggled with their identity, either because they felt they neglected their other ethnicity,  or they were not totally accepted by the Ukrainian community or their Ukrainian parent was particularly over-bearing and forceful. Now as adults they serve and contribute to the Ukrainian community in many different ways, as musicians and performers, politicians, community leaders and organizers, and media promoters.”

Project coordinator Iroida Wynnyckyj states: “In addition UKRAINIAN BY CHOICE aims to record the respondent’s life story. This includes a description of his or her family, schools the respondent attended, work history and the like.”

THE Ukrainian by Choice ORAL HISTORY PROJECT IS FUNDED BY CFUS Curkowskyj Fund.

We are grateful to the Curkowskyj  Fund for the  gift of support which made this project possible.

Excerpts from 
the interviews

Interviewees may decline to provide personal information, such as their date of birth. In these cases this information will not appear on their page.