Sunflowers for the Motherland

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My Gido (grandfather) came to Canada as a young man from Kyiv, Ukraine. His name was Myroslaw Nalesnyk, which he later changed to Maurice to fit in better. He met my Baba (grandmother), Nelly Chomyn, in Saskatchewan and they were married and had four children. My mother, Olga was the oldest. Then there was John, William and Orlene. They’ve all passed away but one and he has been astranged from the family for so long that I don’t even know where he is. That is the historical information about my Ukrainian roots.

There is so much more I’d like to say about my grandparents. They lived in Toronto while we grew up in northern Ontario. They would come to visit and bring a trunk full of presents for us. Mostly, I remember the dark, fresh cherries and the Toronto Kovbassa (kielbassa) that you can only find in Toronto. Any other sausage just doesn’t measure up. One time, my Gido was working in textile factory and he brought a trunk full of suede scraps for my mother. She worked for weeks to sew together full length suede coats for all five of us girls. With fur around the collar and cuffs, we felt like little queens. I wish I had a picture of them because they were just so lovely.

These are the good memories I have of my grandparents and they are the reason I have a fierce connection to my Ukrainian roots and a heart full of sadness and anger for what the Russian army is doing to the Motherland and my people.

Earlier this year I raised $500 by crocheting and selling blue and yellow hearts. I still don’t feel like I ‘ve done enough and I want to continue crocheting for Ukraini. In the previous post I mentioned the sunflowers I was working on. I made 250 of them and installed them at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario. My heart filled with joy in bringing joy and sunshine to the gates of the embassy. Staff were appreciative and thanked me and I told them it was for them and my Baba and Gido and for all of Ukraine.

A week later and all of the sunflowers (save a few in a dark back corner of the fence around the embassy) have remained where I placed them. It is highly unusual for a yarnbomb to stay intact for over a week. I want to attribute it to respect for a war torn country. I won’t make it mean anything about me because, none of this is about it. It’s about solidarity and frustration over a situation that I cannot change. BUT I can stand with the people and express my camaraderie, compassion and hope for a better tomorrow.

SLAVA UKRAINI !

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