Monday, August 04, 2008

Stefan Petelycky honoured by Ukraine

A man who I feel privileged to call a friend was recently honoured by the Government of Ukraine.

On July 30, the Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, Ihor Ostash, awarded Stefan Petelycky a medal for his works and heroic exploits.

The event was held in Richmond, in the community hall of the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko.

I missed the presentation, but there was some very good local coverage of the event. An article in the community weekly Richmond Review (here) and in the daily tabloid The Province (here).

There was also a CBC interview (here) which was quite good... apart from the interviewer's gaffe of "the Ukraine" (sigh) and a lack of acknowledgement of the passing of his friend, a former Auschwitz cellmate, in Siberia 4 years ago. (I know it's all too easy to tune out things that aren't on your list of interview questions, but it's the decent thing to do.) For the interview, scroll to July 30.

Stefan is the author of an autobiography called Into Auschwitz, For Ukraine. It's sold out but hopefully there will be another printing soon. There were a couple of reviews in the Ukrainian Weekly that give a good overview of the book, one by Myron Kuropas (here) and one by Orysia Tracz (here).

An excerpt of that book, called The Many Circles of Hell, was included in the anthology Kobzar's Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories. That book is still available in softcover (the hardcover run sold out quickly) from major booksellers or direct from the publisher.

Stefan turned 85 this spring, and he runs circles around people half his age. He is truly a national treasure, and more deserving of this honour than words can express.

Mnohaya Lita!


Andrew said...

You should definitely have him on your show some time!


Pawlina said...

Good idea!

Stanislav said...

Pawlina, I met Stefan in December (thanx for referring to Franko society). What a great friendly man! In 85 he was volunteering for the supper and when somebody said him I talk Ukrainian he approached me and... we were chatting for 10 minutes or so. Very pleasant man. I have to buy his book one day... and meet him one more time. I am working now on my new project Ukrainian Memoirist ( and have some questions about writing memoirs to great pan Stefan.

Pawlina said...

Stan, he will be demonstrating woodworking at local malls over the next couple of weeks. He does incredible work. He's given me a couple of pieces as gifts. They are exquisite. You might want to check it out.