I grew up with Ukrainian traditions and culture. We observed the 12 meatless dishes on Ukrainian Christmas Eve. My baba was a master pysyanky maker. We wore the outfits and flew the flags. I remember some phrases growing up, mostly “Ви отримаєте лупцювання”, which I think means “You’re going to get a spanking”. I don’t speak any Ukrainian other than these childhood phrases, but my dad did. He was also proud of being able to understand and speak a little Russian because that’s what the neighbors in his tiny Saskatchewan village spoke.
We also grew up with the Slavic worldview, which is, “Expect the worst and when it happens, you’ll be prepared; if it doesn’t, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.” I never realized that not everyone grows up thinking like that.
To Ukrainians, the worst case scenario often happens. It’s been an encroached-on country for centuries. Some time after my dad passed, I found a Ukrainian property deed in my dad’s stuff, going all the way back to his parents and probably their parents before. It was in German and was from when Ukraine was occupied by Austria. I guess my ancestors emigrated around then and landed here in Canada generations ago. And over many generations, I and so many members of the Ukrainian Diaspora keep Ukrainian traditions and culture alive here in Canada, because we can.
What is happening today in Ukraine is horrific. It makes me swear and grit my teeth daily. I know the worst is yet to come. The things that Ukrainians care most about are family, home, land, food, and security and Russia’s invasion is an absolute anathema on these Ukrainian values. We will always fight. They will not hold Ukraine.
I painted these sunflower paintings years ago, probably around Maidan or after Crimea. There’s been a renewed interest in prints. All proceeds from print sales will go to the Red Cross for Ukraine humanitarian efforts. Update: First donation made!
Update September 2022: The print provider I was using has discontinued services; will find another provider.
Ukraine Sunflower Field
Слава Україні! Героям слава!
Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava!
Glory to Ukraine! Glory to heroes!