Stefa was a lively, creative soul, engaged and inspired by her deep love of her Ukrainian culture.
Her children Marijka, Andrew (Olenka), and Roman (Carmen) will miss her spark. Husband Eugene predeceased her in 1979.
Born in the ancient village of Yamnytsia in western Ukraine, Stefa's early life was happily embedded in a strong patriotic family, and rich cultural traditions that were the wellsprings of her long life.
But her budding adulthood was marked by war, the terror of Bolshevik and Nazi occupation, and flight for survival across continents.
Freedom of spirit, and a belief that beauty can save the world, nourished her through harrowing struggles in wartime Europe, and emigration to Australia and finally Canada.
Stefa finished pedagogical studies in Ukraine, and worked briefly as a teacher until the outbreak of the Second World War. Amid the shifting borders and front lines, she joined the political movement for the independence of a free Ukraine.
She spent 1941-42 in German occupied eastern Ukraine as a member of the underground "pokhidny hrupy" to build support for the independence project. From 1944-1947 she was a courier for the Ukraine Supreme Liberation Council's (UHVR) foreign delegation in western Europe. She would see that dream fulfilled only in 1991 when Ukraine declared independence.
After the war, Stefa found herself in a Displaced Person (DP) camp in the American zone of Germany, where she married Eugene. In 1949 they emigrated by ship to Australia and settled in Adelaide; then with two young children in tow, emigrated again in 1956 to Canada where their third child was born, and Stefa worked at the University of Toronto library until her retirement.
Stefa began writing poetry at an early age, and was captivated to the core by the great poet Taras Shevchenko , whose words she knew by heart to the end of her days.
During sleepless nights, she often burned the midnight oil after a hard day's work, pouring to paper her painful emotions, and spiritual insights. We are grateful now to have this gift, her body of poetry, and the thousand songs she seeded into our hearts for our own journey through life.
Stefa's lyrical poetry was first published in 1962 in the Ukrainian Canadian press, and collections followed over the decades. She also wrote plays, and political satire. Her creative work is represented in the Anthology of Ukrainian Poetry in Canada. She was an active and engaged member of the literary Ukrainian community in Toronto, and an ardent supporter of human rights campaigns to free political prisoners in the Soviet Union.
In 1991 Stefa was a volunteer worker in Kyiv, where she translated English and French documents for the cultural commission of Ukraine's new parliament.
Our family is grateful to all of Stefa's fine caregivers; the nurses and doctors at Humber River Hospital, and the palliative team at St. Joseph's Hospital in Toronto.
Mama, we will always remember "slukhajte tyshu" (listen to the silence) youtube.com/watch?v=xMsdc1SZy1U
Friends may call at the Turner & Porter Yorke Chapel, 2357 Bloor St. W., at Windermere, east of Jane subway from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday. Panakhydia will take place at 7:30 p.m. Funeral Rite will be held at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, 4 Bellwoods Ave., on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 8:30 a.m. Interment Park Lawn Cemetery.