Ollie Maksymiw of Preeceville said a tearful goodbye to her Ukrainian relatives while in Ternopil, Ukraine from October 2 to 20.
"The trip was bittersweet as this will likely be the last time that I will be making the trip there,” said Maksymiw.
Her parents, along with her oldest sister, immigrated to Canada from Ukraine in 1939, leaving behind all of their relatives. Fortunately, Maksymiw and her sister, Lydia Omelchuk were able to connect with two of their first cousins, brother and sister Roman Perun and Sasha Kidasiuk and were even able to have each of them come to visit Canada back in 1990 and 1994.
Maksymiw had previously made two trips to Ukraine, accompanied by her older daughter, Cheryl Semashkewich in 1994 and 2012.
This trip however, Ollie was accompanied by her other daughter, Colleen Zubko and her granddaughter Cara Zubko.
They began the trip with a visit to Kiev where they were able to connect with a cousin, Peter Perun who is attending college there.
The group traveled to Ternopil, Ukraine by train on October 6 to visit with Maksymiw's cousins, Roman and Sasha and their families. The language barrier was not an issue for Maksymiw, as she speaks fluent Ukrainian.
"The younger generation speaks English but the older generation still remains steeped in tradition," she said. “I did a lot of translating for my daughter and granddaughter as they do not speak or understand the language.
“Although there has been progress in the standard of living in Ukraine, it is still sad to see how much improvement is yet needed. Travelling there reinforces how fortunate we are here in Canada and although my family in Ukraine are not wealthy by any means, they are rich in heart and hospitality. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with them,” Maksymiw said.
Before returning to Canada, the trio spent some time in Zvolen, Slovakia where Maksymiw’s granddaughter Cara is presently living.
“Slovakia’s landscape is incredibly beautiful and the country, like Ukraine, is rich in tradition and culture.
“The importance of family is strong for me and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to share this trip with my daughter and granddaughter," concluded Maksymiw.