My parents emigrated to Canada from Ukraine back in the early 50’s. They met in Hamilton Ontario, fell in love, the rest is history. Both have since passed away, but the heritage they instilled upon my sisters and I, lives on. Growing up in the 70’s I never got to watch Happy Days (for younger readers, Happy Days was the most popular tv show at the time, picture director Ron Howard – with hair). Tuesday night was Ukrainian School – every single week. In the years that followed, Friday nights were consumed practicing with our Ukrainian dancing and singing Ensemble, until I was forced into retirement to pursue full time employment. Wonderful times. The friends I made then, are the friends I have now. We were fortunate to be able to perform all over the world, and the memories we made, were life-long.
Flash forward – my wife is Ukrainian, we grew up dancing together on Friday nights. For a time, our daughter danced and sang in the same ensemble.
Now, admittedly, over the years my linguistic capabilities have diminished, but I manage. And no, our daughter doesn’t miss any television programs because of Ukrainian school.
Over the years, my friends and I were quick to identify any famous ‘Ukes’ we came across. If there was the slightest microscopic chance that someone of stature was Ukrainian, then they were. We’re not the only culture to do this. The phrase ‘toh nash’ in Ukrainian, loosely translates to “one of our own”, a phrase uttered by many a Uke in years gone by.
With the recent aggression in Ukraine, many took the opportunity to revisit their roots, some with family still living in the old country. I won’t get into the politics of the situation, sufficed to say, Ukrainians all over the world are reuniting. And Canada, my home, houses the third largest population of Ukrainians next to Ukraine itself, with Russia second.
As far as blog ideas go, I’m taking the opportunity to wave my patriotic flag and celebrate my heritage. I thought I knew most of the ‘famous Ukrainians’ when I first broached this topic, but it wasn’t until I started researching, that I discovered a few pleasant surprises. My list is limited to celebrities for the most part, this in no way suggests that scholars, visionaries, and other prominent Ukrainians do not belong on such a list. Religion is not a factor, be it Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish. I grew up Catholic on my dad’s side, Orthodox on my mother’s. Two Christmases, two Easters, every year.
Now there may be some ideological debate regarding what constitutes a person being of a certain nationality, but that’s not the purpose of my blog. This isn’t about the majority share of ethnicity/culture or absolute historic accuracy. It’s about bragging rights – “toh nash“. My blog is strictly for entertainment. And I don’t mean to steal a celebrity from someone else’s list, if such a list exists. Most celebrities below belong on several lists. We can agree to disagree, or share. Your choice.
For the time being I haven’t included sports celebrities (Klitschko brothers, Andriy Shevchenko, Wayne Grtezky, etc.) – perhaps another blog.
Until next time,
Only two types of people in the world, those that are Ukrainian, and those that wish they were.
Comments are always welcome!
Me, 30 years ago. My toes aren’t pointed, thanks for noticing. I can’t get that high on a ladder now.