Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Talkin' 'bout my generation

  • Print

There is a saying in Ukraine that fish look for deeper waters, while humans look for better places. Places where one would feel safe and happy become, to some extent, the goal of life. I belong to those who search for the better places.

I was born in the former USSR and grew up in a town called Gorodok east of Lviv. I have no memories of what it was like to live oppressed in the Soviet Union. By the time I reached real consciousness, Ukraine was already independent. I was seven when independence was proclaimed and six days after that historical event I started Grade 1 at Secondary School No. 3.

  • Africa edition

    Africa is one complex and gloriously unmanageable 'theme' to choose to kick off our 2012 series, Our City Our World, which is why it took up the whole newspaper on Jan. 18.

  • China edition

    Hard-working Chinese immigrants, once banned, have risen to the highest echelons of Manitoba.

  • Germany edition

    German immigrants have played a surprisingly large role in the development of the province.

  • Iceland edition

    Arriving in Manitoba in the 1870s unprepared for a brutal winter, Icelandic settlers and their descendants have left their mark on our province.

  • Italy edition

    Industrious Italians rose from peasant roots and adapted to Canadian society by mastering L’art d’arrangiarsi (the art of getting by).

  • Latin America edition

    It used to be the only time Prairie folks met Spanish-speaking people was when they vacationed down south. More often now, they're the people next door.

  • Middle East edition

    When the first Middle East families immigrated to Manitoba, mosques were unheard of and even yogurt was exotic. But now all that has changed.

  • Philippines edition

    A booming Filipino community nearly 60,000 strong has transformed Manitoba.

  • South Asian edition

    As the city's Indo-Canadian population experiences dramatic growth, its pioneers recall their warm Winnipeg welcome.

  • Ukraine edition

    Scarred by Holodomor, the Ukrainian community helped shape Winnipeg's cultural mosaic.

  • United Kingdom edition

    Manitoba's history is built on a foundation provided by settlers from the U.K., who came here seeking better lives.

We dressed in national Ukrainian costumes during the Sept. 1, 1991, official ceremony that marked a new beginning -- the first cohort of Ukrainian students to attend school in the new epoch.

We were so proud and excited.

Up until then, Grade 1 students would have dressed in Soviet brown costumes for boys, and gowns with white aprons for girls.

It was the beginning. Ten years later we were the first graduates of both an independent Ukrainian school system and a new millennium. We were very proud with awesome feelings. We were young and possibilities were open for us that had been unimaginable a decade earlier.

I was a good student with a passion for languages, including English, which was not an option for earlier generations. So, by the time I graduated, I had decided to continue my studies at the Pedagogical University in the faculty of foreign languages. I was absolutely sure that was my field of specialization.

Meanwhile, during my school years I had other opportunities not open to earlier generations but which seemed normal to my generation. I twice visited Canada, coming to Winnipeg where my relatives lived. Those trips had a great impact on my future decisions.

Step by step, a dream began forming in my head. What if I leave my country for the sake of another? What would my future be? Why do I need this?

It wasn't that I was rejecting my motherland -- I love it no matter what. But I simply wanted changes in my life. I was only following my dream.

So I applied to move to Winnipeg and spent years in waiting for unknown results.

But then it came. You can go. The dreams came true.

I am grateful to my country for this possibility. If I were a former USSR resident, would I be able to leave so simply just because I want to?

No, definitely I would not have had the chance. And if I had left, my family would have been severely affected by Soviet authorities.

But for me and my generation, it was all different. We grew up in an independent country. I was and am free, and I so much appreciate this fact.

New generations of Ukrainians have more possibilities than our parents or grandparents had. And the new wave of Ukrainian immigration to Canada or any other country has no boundaries, walls or obstructions.

Two years ago I met Gerald Flood, comment editor of Winnipeg Free Press. I was doing some interpreting services for him during his visit to Lviv. A couple of days ago we met again at a restaurant here in Winnipeg -- a place where we both live now.

The freedom of choice! The world seems so small and yet boundless. You just have to cross the ocean.

My generation should appreciate what we have and expect. No less should we feel sorry for those who didn't have such opportunities in the past. We will remember them and take pride in their efforts. New life, new possibilities are opened for us.

The freedom of choice belongs to a new generation of contemporary Ukrainians.

Create and live your life, as you live only once.

Oksana Ivanenko arrived in Winnipeg in the fall of 2010 and immediately found work in a Ukrainian credit union. Last autumn she returned to Ukraine and married the man she had left behind. They live in Garden City.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 23, 2012 J11

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.