Stop Calling them Uniforms

mountiecostumeWhen a uniform becomes customized for various cultures it stops being a uniform. A uniform is… uniform. When it isn’t uniform, all the same, then it becomes similar, not uniform. If the Mounties, police, fire fighters, etc. want to adapt their uniform doesn’t it become a costume? I think allowing various cultures (I am purposely not being specific because the specific culture is not the issue) to have different uniforms makes the uniform mean less.

The original point of a uniform was identification, everyone looking the same, being recognizable and having respect. You see the Mounties and know who they are by the uniform. If you see someone wearing a Mountie costume, you think they are on the way to a party and you don’t consider them someone you need to pay much attention to. Badges don’t mean much from a distance, behind a door or to anyone who couldn’t tell a real badge from a fake one.

People in authority like Mounties, military and government employees need to be recognizable in order to have that authority and be trusted. Since we were children we have seen Mounties in their dress uniforms and we expect a Mountie to be in that uniform.

But, more than the public, what about the Mounties themselves? Why change the uniform which has severed generations of Mounties of all cultures up until now? I’m assuming all Mounties have two arms, two legs, one head so they should all be able to wear the standard uniform. What is the real need for change in this very old tradition worn with pride by generations of people.

I don’t know. But, I do think they should stop calling them uniforms, because they aren’t uniforms any more. That tradition has been lost. mountie

Savella Stechishin and the Joy of Ukranian Cooking

Savella Stechishin: 1903-2002

It is with deep sadness and fond memories that we announce the passing of Savella Stechishin on April 22, 2002 in Saskatoon, SK at the age of 98.

The history of Ukrainian women in Canada was personified in Savella Stechishin who for three-quarters of a century was a forerunner, a woman ahead of her time, a perennial mover and shaker. An immigrant to Canada in 1913, she became an active advocate of women’s rights, an ethnic leader, journalist, author, teacher, home economist and community organizer who dedicated her life to bringing women of Ukrainian descent, together with their cultural heritage, into mainstream society. This was at a time when only men were leaders. She could be described as an ethno-cultural social maternal feminist.

Savella Stechishin was born in Western Ukraine on August 19, 1903 and came to Canada at the age of nine. Her family settled on a homestead in Krydor, Saskatchewan, where she lived until 1918.

In the 1920s she went against the prevailing view that a married womans place was to be in the home, not to pursue a higher education. She was married at the age of 17 while in grade 10 and had her first child when she was 18. However, by the time she was 26, she had completed high school and teachers college and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan.

She was the first Ukrainian Canadian woman to graduate from the University of Saskatchewan (1930), and the first Ukrainian woman in Canada to graduate with a specialization in Home Economics.

During the time she was studying and raising a family, she also served as Dean of Women at Petro Mohyla Institute alongside her husband, who was the Rector. Her determination to preserve Ukrainian culture in Canada led to founding and heading a young Ukrainian women students group, Mohylianky, at the institute at the age of 20. She was responsible for organizing evening courses in many aspects of Ukrainian culture. Public speaking sessions and debates were held to help these young women learn to express themselves and develop their self-esteem. All these activities were stimulating for the teacher trainee residents.

Seeing the difficulties Ukrainian pioneers had integrating into their new lives in Canada, she was the initiator in 1926, of the first Ukrainian national womens non-denominational organization, Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada. Under her leadership with many former Mohylianky on board, the organization took root and branches quickly mushroomed throughout Canada. The associations motto was: self-help, self-reliance, and self-respect. She encouraged the women to take advantage of the educational possibilities available to them in their new homeland. She inspired them to take pride in their rich cultural heritage at a time when multiculturalism was still unheard of in Canada, and prejudice and bigotry were rampant.

During this time, Savella Stechishin corresponded with leading women writers of various publications in Ukraine. She was inspired by them to continue her mission in Canada and, likewise, inspired the women in Ukraine by supporting them morally, financially (through the sales of their embroidered goods, books and almanacs), and educationally (eg home economics, life of Ukrainian Canadian women).

She was instrumental in laying the foundation for the Ukrainian Museum of Canada that later came under the auspices of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada. This museum, the only ethno-cultural museum in Canada to have branches, has its headquarters in Saskatoon, and branches in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. This museum has preserved thousands of artifacts for future generations of Canadians to treasure and enjoy. The emphasis that she placed on retaining the traditional Ukrainian folk arts in Canada did much to raise them to the respected position that they now occupy among other heritage folk arts in our multicultural mosaic.

She started teaching in Saskatchewan country schools and later taught Home Economics in Saskatoon public schools. In addition, she instructed Ukrainian language courses at the Petro Mohyla Institute and was a sessional lecturer of Ukrainian language at the University of Saskatchewan.

After obtaining a BA degree in 1930 with a specialization in Home Economics, Savella Stechishin joined the Department of Women’s Services at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1930s and used her training to engage in outreach work for many years. As a Home Economist, she tried to improve the living conditions of Ukrainian immigrant settlers by instructing them in the importance of a healthy lifestyle and nutrition. Lessons about cooking and general homemaking practices were also stressed.

Savella Stechishin was the editor of the Women’s Page of the Ukrainian Voice, a widely-read Ukrainian language newspaper published in Winnipeg and contributed weekly columns for more than 25 years on a broad range of topics: nutrition, homemaking trends, immigrant issues, and the preservation of the Ukrainian language and culture in Canada. Through her informative and challenging newspaper columns, she assisted women in adjusting to the expectations of Canadian society, informed them of their rights as Canadian citizens and raised their awareness of the issues of the day.

She made significant contributions to Ukrainian women’s magazines, such as Our Life (USA), Promin (then located in Winnipeg) and Zhinocha Dolia (Ukraine).

During the Second World War, she served as a journalist on nutrition and health for the Wartime Services in Ottawa Consumer Information Service. Her columns were printed in various Ukrainian-language newspapers in Canada.

stechishin cookbookSavella Stechishin was also the author of four books, the best known of which is Traditional Ukrainian Cookery. This cookbook has already served three generations as a source of carefully researched information about Ukrainian cuisine, culture and traditions. Since its first publication in 1957, it has been reprinted 18 times and over 80,000 copies have been sold throughout the English-speaking world. It is considered to be the most authoritative book on Ukrainian cuisine and it is now being discovered in the newly independent Ukraine where younger generations are studying their Ukrainian heritage after years of Russification.

In 1950, she wrote a 133-page Ukrainian-language book entitled Cultural Treasures Ukrainian Embroidery that was based on her avid interest in Ukrainian folk arts and her determination to make them an integral part of Canadian culture.

In 1975, she published a Ukrainian-language book documenting the history of the first branch of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada: The Fifty-Year (1923-1973) Anniversary of the Ukrainian Women’s Association, Olha Kobylianska Branch in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Mrs Stechishin assisted her husband in writing a 500-page textbook Ukrainian Grammar (1951) which was used by English-speaking schools, colleges and universities throughout the world.

After the untimely death of her husband, she took it upon herself to assume responsibility for an ambitious project that he had started: to research and write a book entitled The History of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada. Undaunted by the magnitude of the task, she persevered and successfully completed the project. The original book was published in Ukrainian in 1971 and in 1992, it was published in English translation.

Her late husband, Julian Stechishin, was a lawyer, writer, author, scholar, lecturer, teacher and community activist. He was one of the original founders of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada in 1918 in Saskatoon. Savella assisted him and, at her death, was the last remaining member of this original group.

The leadership role that Savella Stechishin played in all the organizations that she established or helped to establish involved much work and personal sacrifice. The types of demands that were made on her time and her energy were wide-ranging: formulating goals, organizing meetings and conferences, traveling throughout Saskatchewan, Canada, USA and Ukraine delivering speeches, contributing articles concerning women’s issues to various Ukrainian newspapers and periodicals, both in Canada and in Western Ukraine prior to its incorporation into the Soviet Union at the beginning of the Second World War. With a family comprising three children, she had to be very well organized and prepared to do a lot of juggling and improvising.

She passed on her love of her heritage to her children and grandchildren and to the countless women whose lives she touched.

She will be lovingly remembered by her daughter, Zenia of Toronto; son, Dr. Myron (Emily) of Edmonton; grandchildren, Danovia (Scott) Stefura of Toronto, Gordon Stechishin of Edmonton, John (Susan) Stetch/ Stechishin of New York City, Gregory (Jo-Ann Sturko) Stechishin of Edmonton, Andrea (Anton) Lakusta of Edmonton, and Dr. Mallory Stechishin-Kozoriz (Grant) of San Francisco; great-grandsons, Eliajah and Gabriel Stefura; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

Savella Stechishin joins in peaceful eternity her husband, Julian; son, Anatole; parents, Trofym and Eva Wawryniuk; half brother, John; half sister, Mokryna Worobey; brothers, Thomas (Apolonari) Warnock, Eugene Warnick; sisters, Mary Charko-Nowosad, Helen Worobetz, Stephania Magus; daughters-in-law, Olha and Claudia.

Donations in Savellas memory may be made to St Andrews College (Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary), University of Manitoba, 29 Dysart Road, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2M7, or any charity of ones choice.

Source: Savella Stechishin: 1903-2002

A Ukrainian Canadian Julia Child And More: Savella Stechishin

Intolerance is the New Black

Intolerance is black. Not black and white and no room at all for shades of grey. Intolerance is a dictatorship.

To me it seems intolerance has become more important than respect, love or anything else. If you read the intolerance manual you would believe it was my generation and those before us who were intolerant, bigots, and so on. But, that isn’t true. We may have been racist, but we were not intolerant. We had black, white, shades of grey, men, women, old and young.

Now there is just one way everything is allowed to be and everyone must stick to the right rules. I see only black, there can be no exception. Any feelings or thoughts (and certainly any actions!) to the contrary will not be tolerated. Even those you love will choose the rules over you. Don’t get in the way, don’t have any other opinion and don’t complain.

Writing this, this morning, I wonder how people have gotten this way.

I have tolerance. I’m sad, I’m angry and I’m disappointed but I am not throwing rocks at anyone. I am not insisting on having my way or ignoring someone else who does not agree with me. I am tolerating someone who ignored my beliefs, my feelings and everything I am. I am not throwing anyone out, or under a bus. I am not screaming, hurting someone else, or insisting on a boycott. I am not using social media to gather others to my witch hunt.

I am of the generation who believe in human rights, including the human right to be human. Being human means everyone is entitled to be imperfect. Being human I expect people to not have all the same thoughts, feelings, culture or experiences. I like to explore other cultures and experiences. I like knowing there are people who disagree with me but listen to how I think and care enough to tolerate me when I feel or think differently.

You have to be entitled to be so firmly intolerant.

Today people have a feeling of entitlement they say. I have seen this in the younger generation, but not just there. The feeling of entitlement is part of the blackness of intolerance. I think it backs it up, keeps it from letting in any of those other colours. You have to be entitled in order to be so firmly intolerant.

Where did we lose the idea that it is ok to say no and have that respected? Of course, you can say no to the acceptable things: rape, bullying, racism, homophobia and transphobia. To a much smaller extent you can still say no to religious discrimination and a few other, older and less popular in the media discriminations we are still allowed to say no to. Racism is not tolerated, if you are black. If you are any other race, culture or colour, you will need to have tolerance. I’m not sure why. Why are some causes supported so fervently and others almost forgotten and ignored? Why do only some people matter?

We have lost the right to respectfully disagree.

I wish people could remember, or care, or respect the fact that we do not all agree. We do not all have to agree. But, with intolerance there is no right to respectfully disagree. I respectfully disagreed but I was not respectfully tolerated, instead I faced the intolerance and being family, years of love, respect and everything else could not overcome the intolerance which is held up like a solid, black wall, higher and thicker than any human being can ever hope to come across, or around.

I am sad and sad is grey, not black.

White is a Mixed Race Too

The issue should not be skin colour at all. No one can tell enough about you from just your skin colour to classify you as a person. The issue of race is based on fear of something different, unpredictable. Human beings tend to be intimidated by something we can’t understand, predict, or control.

If people stopped promoting racism, it would likely go away a lot sooner. Consider why it is so important to you to keep promoting racism before you write about the colour of someone’s skin – whatever colour it may be.

In our culture, we think we are so civilized and sophisticated, skin colour should mean nothing more than a feature of a specific human being – like the shape of your nose, a mole, a scar… they all add up to characteristics which create the whole. All of those are superficial. You can’t actually know anyone at that level, let alone where their ancestors and heritage came from.

I’m “white” but just as Keanu is Hawaiian, Chinese, etc. I am Canadian, Austrian, German, Scottish and whatever else farther back in time. What does it matter to you or anyone else? You don’t know me. Being “mixed race” is more than skin deep and should be about more than skin tone/ colour.

No one is “monoracial”. To want rights based on being mixed race and then deny or begrudge the same rights to another group of people (for the very same reason!) is backwards and silly. Being white enough to pass for white is far too far down the rabbit hole. Everyone, each human being on the planet, is of mixed race.

All the complaints about racism only create more racism. Instead, stop focusing on skin colour as a way to judge a person. Brown, black, white, green… it is all mixed race. We are on this planet together whether your skin is light or dark, your hair is straight or curly,  or not there at all. Each of us decides their own identity. If you base your identity on race, that’s up to you. Don’t push it on others who may feel their career, hobbies, skills, strengths, etc define them more than the colour of their skin.

(This post inspired by a post about Keanu Reeves being of mixed race but passing for white and being denied his identity. See below).

As mixed race people, we must have the freedom to define our own identities. Thus, monoracial people deciding our identities for us is dangerous behavior that renders us invisible.

So, is Reeves being cast truly a case of White-washing? No. As a person of non-white heritage, Reeves being cast is not White-washing. While audiences may not read him as a person of color, that is not his fault, nor is it his responsibility to ensure that people make the correct assumptions about his identity. That is not and never will be the job of mixed race people.

Is White-washing an issue? Most definitely. Are mixed race actors to blame? Not at all.

Source: Keanu Reeves and the White-washing of Hollywood :: WINM :: Keanu Reeves Articles & Interviews Archive

But What if it Were Real…

11822791_10153045473501938_1594222403926907164_nThis photo was posted to Facebook with a note:

“This photo was taken in Australia, get it out there as Facebook are trying to remove it.”

Logically, why would Facebook being trying to remove this photo? It looks like a fake. But claiming Facebook is trying to take the photo away makes it seem legitimate as something others are trying to hide. People will flock to see something secret, or scandalous. So the fake photo gets passed around and around.

But, what if it were real…?

What if aliens were secretly running the planet? I don’t mean the governments (those are human-made). What if aliens with spaceships and more were actually controlling the planet we live on, aliens as caretakers. An evolved human-like (I guess) culture which keeps the Earth on track.

What if the thing we have been mysteriously calling god is actually a space alien taking care of our planet, quietly, in the background?

The Alien at 50

In our culture it is very alienating to be 50. That age where it hits you that you may not even be middle aged now. Being young, from childhood to somewhere in the 30’s was such a different perspective. I didn’t see it then but I can see it now. Being in my 40’s was (so far) the best time of life for me. I felt ok and even good sometimes. I felt I was ok with myself.

Then, among the years I should have been 40-something, 50 hit me. It came down hard and clouded everything. Even when I could have been happy being 40-something that 50 hung over me, hovering like my personal rain cloud of doom.

In younger years I had read about actresses and such who said there were no roles for older women. I thought little of it. I could see older women in TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. Likely they were in theatre too if I cared to look.

But, the actresses said it wrong. It’s not that there aren’t roles for older women. It’s that there are so MANY roles for younger women, younger people.

Our culture is based on youth. Not just being young and looking it, but the parts of life which come in those younger years (traditionally): going to school, dating, marrying and having children. When I watch anything on TV now I am swarmed with the feeling of how much I don’t belong. How far I am past those parts of life. I don’t want to go back. I just want to be ok with where I am. But, it’s hard.

It’s hard to feel ok with being older when it seems we don’t exist, are expected to keep to ourselves and not be seen or heard. Unless it’s something to do with spending money like buying insurance, buying sedate vacations, buying pee pads (not for your period, whether you still get it or not).

I feel alienated in my own world. I don’t see where I fit in. I can talk to the younger generations. I don’t know their particulars any more: the music, the actors, etc. But, those are just entertainment. I know about life, having come through those younger years. But all my experience and knowledge is tainted by how younger people see me. I’m old. I don’t know the entertainment stuff so I’m relegated to being outdated, out of place and I don’t really understand how things are today.

Odd, but things aren’t all that different. People are born, go to school, try to get along in the world, get married, have babies (or not) and then…. it’s the long stretch of being there, but not getting in the way, until you’re finally as old as you feel.

I don’t feel old. I feel like me. I feel almost the same as I did when I was twenty. But, those are memories and I know that. No wonder we tend to look at the past more as we fall into the future where we don’t fit in and don’t have a place. In the past we had a place and the world was about us.

Now I’m an alien. Just because I’m 50.

If it weren’t for the perception of others (and my own awareness of time limits) I could believe I’m twenty. Young people expect being older to feel so different. It’s not. It’s almost exactly the same as feeling twenty. But, I look at those who are twenty and I can see a difference then. There is a shiny new-ness, an extra bounce and they’re just a bit quicker to laugh.

So maybe we do become an alien as we get older. Where is the mothership then? I’d like to find the other aliens and feel I belong again. I don’t like this feeling of being isolated among all the people I see every day.

The other thing I don’t like to think about is to look past myself and see those older than I am. Right now I may not feel I belong and I may feel like an alien… they look more alien. I worry about how I will still feel like myself when I start to look even less like myself and more alien to who I think I am.

Where is that mothership…?

Canadian Cuisine

Canada is far away from some places on the planet and people in those far away places may wonder what Canadians like to eat. This is especially good to know if you are making plans to visit Canada and wonder what you might find wriggling on the end of your fork. Not that we eat a lot of things that wriggle.

Canada is not snow all year. We don’t camp out in the wilderness and worry about polar bears wandering into our backyards. Canada is big. There are a lot of people here, some of them are still here and some are being born right now. We are multi cultural. Some people think Canada does not have a culture at all. This is not the case. Canada is built from many cultures, yet we have a common history which connects us.

One common theme in Canada is food. Take a look at Canada’s Food Guide. We may overload on sugar (mmm…. butter tarts) but we do like fresh food, vegetables and a great coffee (or beer) to top it all off. Most Canadians like food which is fairly well known: hamburgers and fries, fish and chips, spaghetti, steak and potato, pizza, back and eggs, lasagna, cabbage rolls, sweet and savoury pies, coffee, stew… a fairly generic list isn’t it? You may think we are fairly uninspired but, Canadians do have an edible culture of our own:

What do Canadians Eat?

  • Poutine – French fries with cheese curd and topped with gravy.
  • French fries with vinegar
  • Maple syrup (Not on everything)
  • Butter tarts – Tarts which are very sweet: butter, sugar and eggs in a pastry shell.
  • Nanaimo Bars – From BC. A crumble crust, a sweet layer, topped with a layer of chocolate.
  • Tourtiere – A French Canadian meat pie (pork, onions and spices in a crust).
  • Pate Chinois – Layers of beef, creamed corn and potato.
  • Bannock – Inuit flat bread.
  • Salmon – Salmon does go well with almost anything.
  • Montreal-style bagels
  • Montreal-smoked meat
  • Ice wine – Made with grapes frozen on the vine.
  • Bloody Caesar – You need Clamato for this Canadian version of the Bloody Mary.
  • Screech – What happens in Newfoundland, stays in Newfoundland.
  • BeaverTails – Fried dough with assorted sweet toppings.
  • Ketchup chips
  • Timbits – Doughnut holes.
  • Back bacon or peameal bacon (In the US they call it Canadian bacon, we don’t know why)

What Do Canadians Cook?

Canadians are multicultural. So you can find an endless assortment of dishes in Canadian restaurants and home kitchens. Most of the dishes above came from another culture and were adapted to become something unique to Canada.

Canadian Chefs to Inspire You:

Stop Apologizing for Being Canadian

Immigration and multiculturalism are old issues for Canada, never resolved. I don’t think there can be a meeting of the minds on this one. Even myself, I am split on how far multiculturalism should go and how much immigration should be supported.

I have the unique perspective of having  been an immigrant to another country, for a few years. I returned to Canada and actually have no desire to ever return to the US (where I had immigrated to for my husband). I’m very happy in Canada. I was born here. My family are all here. I have never seen a gun used here. I don’t hear or see racism here – though it is now and then talked about in the news.

In the news I hear about not having the Canadian flag at schools. Not having the Canadian anthem sung at schools and events. I see our police and Mounties wearing adjusted uniforms to support the religious practices of other cultures. I don’t like these things. They are defacing Canada’s own culture, history and pride. I do think multiculturalism and tolerance go too far when school children are no longer able to sing the Canadian anthem or point out all the Canadian provinces on a map of the world. My ten year old niece is unable to find Manitoba on a globe of the world until I tell her it’s in Canada. I am the one who took the time to teach her to spell Saskatchewan. I was taught these things in school.

How far should Canada bend in order to suit immigrants? I don’t know, but I would say we have hit a hard limit when we began adapting the very things that make us Canadians, an individual culture in the world. I would say we need to pass our culture along to our children along with our history and our way of life. Canada is not about religion or the colour of your skin – but when they start pulling the flag down and changing the world to our anthem… don’t we become pretty anonymous in the world?

We are Canadian… kind of. Sorry to try to keep our culture. Sorry to bother you with sticking to something we have been proud of for generations. Stop apologizing for being Canadian. 

When people ESCAPE from their country of birth, because of persecution, or religious freedom, to come to a country of choice, why do they demand that we change to the customs of the country that they ESCAPED from? It does not make sense. All immigrants must swear an oath of allegiance to the country to become CANADIANS. Let them take heed of the words of that oath, and not just recite them from memory.