Canmore author Christine Nykoluk. Photo courtesy of Josh Diaz.
Our local newspaper did a feature about me and my novel Heart Stones: A Ukrainian Immigration Story of Love and Hope in time for Remembrance Day, here it is.
Canmore author writes on grandparents nine years apart during First World War
Rocky Mountain Outlook News, Canmore, Alberta
November 10, 2023
CANMORE – Christine Nykoluk wanted to explore the emotional side of her grandparents from the First World War.
In her book Heart Stones, the Canmore-based writer commemorates the nine years her Ukrainian grandparents were separated during the war and when they arrived in Canada.
“My grandmother and her two innocent children were separated from my grandfather for nine long years before the war ended and Canada opened its doors to Ukrainians once again,” said Nykoluk.
She said rather than write a non-fiction book on the experiences, she “wanted to explore the emotional elements of my grandparents’ story.”
“How did they feel? What did they experience?” said the second-generation Ukrainian. “My grandmother spent a number of years in war camps in Eastern Europe and what was it like to go through this experience?”
Myk, who’s based on her grandfather, makes the difficult decision to leave his two children and his wife, Lilia, in search of a better life in Canada. Not long after, the First World War broke out, leaving his family thousands of kilometres away in Ukraine with a dangerous road ahead.
With Lilia and her children pushing through the troubles of war and Myk struggling with authorities who view him as a threat to national security, the book shares a story of patience.
Nykoluk learned her grandparents were separated when she was a kid, but it wasn’t until her 50s through learning more she realized there was a unique story to be told.
“I came to realize that my grandparents’ story was really quite unique and perhaps a bit shocking to many Canadians today,” said Nykoluk.
By piecing together stories shared by her aunt, researching documents and her ancestry, she was able to learn more about what they endured.
“One of my sisters was quite close with one of my aunts, and she took the time to write down my aunts’ stories and that became a really important part of how I was able to create the story and keep the real elements of my grandparents in the story,” said Nykoluk.
Nykoluk said writing the novel and reaching out to older cousins who knew her grandparents, her dad’s side of the family began to have reunions and come together again as they are geographically spread out.
“My novel has been a great way for my family to just share these stories and learn more about our grandparents and why and how we came to Canada,” said Nykoluk.
Nykoluk emphasized more families should preserve their stories as she did.
“It's important for people to understand that stories don't last forever, and families need to write them down. Or else they'll just evaporate,” said Nykoluk. “It is important that people do that, or our families will lose their stories.”
The book is available in the Canmore and Cochrane public libraries as well as Café Books.
More information along with the first chapter of her book is available at www.christinenykoluk.com.