Web of Stories

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Contesting: Confrontational Identities

Once community affiliations were established, Ukrainians frequently used public confrontations to display, perform, and assert their political and religious identities. Certainly, Baba’s early childhood memory about a confrontation that occurred on the front steps of her home, between her father and a group of “communist” men, serves as an important entry point into this public culture of confrontation. Deeply touched by the violence that she witnessed on this occasion, Baba used this experience, and the memory of this experience, to negotiate her identity as well as her place in the community.

Significantly, Baba’s tale is by no means unique. As this web of stories demonstrates, other Catholic, Orthodox, nationalist, and progressive Ukrainian men and women who lived in the Sudbury region during the 1930s also used confrontational experiences to forge, assert, and maintain their political and religious identities. These intensely emotional and often highly physical confrontations were central to the community’s collective narrative. Specifically, these experiences allowed the region’s Ukrainians to situate themselves within this polarized community. Moreover, they determined who did and did not belong to the local community, as well as to the region, and the nation.

 



Baba Clip in the Centre: Baba describes an incident in the early 1930s when “communists” attacked her family’s home. Clip length 1:12 | download transcript |

Clip 1: Oryst Sawchuk discusses the divisions within the Ukrainian community. Clip Length: 3:34

Clip 2: Anne Matschke (nee Kuchmey) recounts being bullied by “communists” from the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association on May Day.
Clip Length: 1:17

Clip 3: John Stefura describes his father’s founding role at the Ukrainian National Federation hall and his conflict with St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church.
Clip Length: 5:07

Clip 4: Nick Solski discusses communism in Coniston. Clip Length: 1:00

Clip 5: Doris Sturby (nee Zaparynuik) recounts some of the conflicts between St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian National Federation and the sentiment surrounding the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association.
Clip Length: 3:59

Clip 6: William Babij speaks about how his mother would get up in the middle of the night to feed his father’s bosses; this was one way to ensure that he would continue to have a job at the mine. Clip Length: 1:40

Clip 7: Helen Pihursky (nee Ciotka) talks about the importance of staying away from the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association hall. Clip Length: 0:41

Clip 8: Patricia Chytuk (nee Urchyshyn) recalls the closing of the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association hall during World War II and its re-opening. Clip Length: 2:39

Clip 9: Tom Zaitz remembers the fistfights that occurred because of his ethnicity. Clip Length: 1:43

 

 

 

 

Clip 10: John Stefura remembers a confrontation and fight that occurred between members of the Ukrainian National Federation and the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association in the 1930s. Clip Length: 1:39

Clip 11: Oryst Sawchuk gives his perspective on the communal divisions between Ukrainians. Clip Length: 2:12

Clip 12: Robert Gawalko tries to explain why Sudbury’s Ukrainians were divided.
Clip Length: 1:09

Clip 13: Steve Balon discusses how the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association hall closure during World War II affected his mother and the other women who belonged to this organization. Clip Length: 0:51

Clip 14: Michael Babuik recalls how the International Nickel Company responded to communism. Clip Length: 0:41

Clip 15: Anne Matschke (nee Kuchmey) speaks about the tension between St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association. Clip Length: 1:22

Clip 16: Steve Buchowski talks about the blacklisting of his father.
Clip Length: 0:21

Clip 17: John Buchowski speaks about the blacklisting experienced by his father.
Clip Length: 0:55

Clip 18: Nellie Kozak (nee Totaryn) recalls the consequences of attending a dance at the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association hall. Clip Length: 0:41