“Leah, there were no Natives here,” my Baba says to me with increasing annoyance each time I ask if she knows any stories about Ukrainian settlers and Indigenous people. Indeed, as many historians of Ukrainian Canadian settlement demonstrate, by the time Ukrainian immigrants arrived here, Indigenous people had been erased from the lands they settled. But why do I continue to hear Cree and Métis stories about Ukrainians? About kimosôms (grandfathers) speaking Ukrainian and kôhkums (grandmothers) having Ukrainian poppyseed cake recipes? I had to ask myself: what had happened to the stories of my ancestors to allow them to erase the presence of Indigenous people? To answer these questions, I am recovering narratives of Indigenous-Ukrainian relations in east central Alberta. My goal is to demonstrate that recovering these histories and deconstructing how and why Ukrainian settlers came into Canadian multiculturalism, redresses Indigenous erasure in Ukrainian settler histories, and ultimately advances reconciliation.
Indigenous-Ukrainian Relationship Building Initiative