Saturday, June 23, 2007

"Home" ... Or At Least As Close as it Gets These Days

New Baba's House:


New Baba was my great-grandmother. My Baba's mother. This is the last house she lived in before the whole family sold the farm, packed up and moved to the big city. Sheena was 10 when she died. I still have her hand made rag rugs all over my apartment. They are my most precious possessions. I spoke no Ukrainian and she spoke no English. But I loved her and looking up at her from the perspective of a six year old, her ears looked doughy and translucent just like perogies . When she baby sat us she would make a sourdough type of pancake. To this day no one else in the family can figure out the recipe. Nobody wrote it down before she died.



This is the community centre in Arran, SK. Arran is where the farmer lived who sponsored my grandparents, mother and uncle to come to Canada. They were what were called "DPs" back in the late 40s. Refugees, basically. Baba and Gido got married in a forced labour camp. And that's where Sheena's mom was born.

The Arran farmer had to sign an X because he couldn't write, and have a notary seal his statement that he would not let my family be a burden on the Government of Canada. I saw that document for the first time last winter. And it made Sheena cry.


So far so good. Knock wood.


9 Comments:

At 11:50 PM, Blogger pumpernickel said...

Sheena,

That's awesome. Pumpernickel's grandparents (and father) came to Canada from Ukraine and never made it much West of Montreal. Out of curiosity, where in Sk is that? I'm in Saskatoon and Regina later this week.

 
At 11:52 PM, Blogger Sheena said...

Right at the Manitoba border, not too far from Swan River area. Nearest SK towns would be Kamsack, maybe an hour from Yorkton.

 
At 8:01 AM, Blogger whitenoise said...

My mom's side of the family had similar experiences, a bunch of Finlanders who tried to make a go of it around Estevan, SK. Most of them seemed to relocate to the Timmins and Sudbury areas of Ontario, I don't know why.

I had the same communications problems with my great-grandparents in the 60s/70s. They still spoke only Finn after 50 years in this country. There was such a large Finn community around YTS, that they had no need for english...

 
At 10:46 AM, Blogger CheekierMeSly said...

I'm ever so thankful that the Arran farmer sponsored your famdamily. If you'd been born anywhere else, I might not have known ya. And that would have sucked. Big time.

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger Marky Mark said...

That was very moving.

 
At 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the Baba out for lunch today at the local BOOFET and sat and people watched as we partook of the feast. It was basically a room filled with immigrant people the world round - all generations breaking bread (and chicken bones) together. My favouritist tables was the one next to me where the ultra conservatives (could have been Mennonites) in the black suit and slicked back hair sat with their grandson who had invited them out for lunch. The grandson had spiked hair and studs or whatever it is they put in the ears these days (those flat black pancake looking things). The grandson bowed his head and thanked the good Lord up above for the food and the chance of sharing it with his grandparents. It was a very striking moment - contrast of then and now!

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger CheekierMeSly said...

So where is "home", Sheena? (a question from a comment here.)

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger Sheena said...

A heavy question, Cheek. Especially lately as I ponder yet another uprooting and realize the sense of home has not existed in the places I've lived for many many years.

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheena - home is where you make it.
You know any of the houses we have in Winnipeg are always your home. That's why we don't knock on the doors before we enter. My home is always your home. Benito will always be your home. Same goes for Nova Scotia.
Even though I've never lived in Cape Breton Island, or Benito - I always consider it "going home".

-Pat.

 

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