Back to Roots
By Anzhelika Kuznetsova
Family History is a fascinated thing , especially if your parents or grandparents or even your great-grandparents left some country many years ago leaving behind their hearts and dear grave-sites. The reason for leaving the country where you were born can be of different background--wars, religious persecution, seeking for better job opportunities...etc. Whatever the reason was people tend to get "back to roots" to see where they come from. Many people still have relatives alive but they do not know about them or lost the connection many years ago.
We would like to unite such people with their past and...future.
Ukraine has generated lots of waves of immigration to Canada, the USA, Germany, Israel, Australia and other countries. First Ukrainian immigrants came to Canadian farms in the end of the nineteenth century. The National Museum of Civilization in Ottawa has quite a bit of space dedicated to the arrival and life of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada. They settled down on vast arable lands of Manitoba and Ontario, the climate and valleys of which reminded them of their dear Ukraine. Brother of my great-grandfather, Ivan (John) Kerelyuk was one of them. In 1913 he fought for Canadian Army and he was buried at the military cemetery in 1960s. 18 children were born in his family, 18 noble Canadian citizens. They did not know much about their Ukrainian family back in USSR but one day they will come to where their roots are.
My great-grandfather Trofim (Tony) Kerelyuk left Ukraine in 1929 to join his brother in Canada and he never came back. He left his son, Ivan, 1 y o, his daughter, Anna, 7 y o and his wife Maria back in a small village in Volyn' area to be able to work in Canada and sent some money to support them. He worked hard first on his brother's farm, later on on a saw mill in Ft.Francis. He was developing vast uninhabited territories of Canada helping Canadian state to grow. Neither son nor daughter saw their father again. Their village Politsi which was a Polish territory in 1929 became Soviet in 1939 and my great-grandfather could not get back as they would have sent him to Siberia...
My great-grandfather died in 1968 in Ft Francis, Ont. Only in 2005 thanks to our dear noble friends, the Giesbrecht family, we, my grandfather Ivan Kerelyuk named after his uncle and me, were able to go to Ft. Francis and see the tomb of my great-grandfather Trofim (Tony) . We also saw our relatives. It seemed that the link was reestablished but until some of them come to Ukraine to that remote village Politsi they will feel people without motherland, eternal immigrants.
The idea of this special tour was prompted by my family history.We have made our journey Back to Roots, back to our family history which helped me to understand what I am and where my ambitions and dreams are rooted and become a more wholesome personality. The Journey took the veil off the family secrets which had been tormenting the whole family for decades...
Our beloved Giesbrecht family made that journey with my husband and me in 2002. We did find their Mennonite village Snegurivka ( Shonsee) in Zaporizhzhya area where John Giesbrecht's parents and his sisters had lived before they left Ukraine in 1921. The house built by John's grandfather still existed and John and his four children were able to spend a night there. This was a memorable tour which made us friends forever...
Back to Roots trip is the trip especially for those who had or still have family or dear tombs in the Ukraine and the memories which call back to where the family emerged.
- 1. We offer Family Roots investigation (if necessary) if you provide names of people and places.
- 2. We go to the place ourselves first and find out whatever we can about what is left of the house or tomb or/if your relatives are still alive.
- 3. We carefully plan your trip.
- 4. We take you to the place to meet your Roots and History
The price comprises the above mentioned parts. While thinking of taking our offer please have in mind that we are located in Odessa, Ukraine and the price for the second part will depend on the distance we will have to cover. We will find the cheapest way of traveling for ourselves to your places not to make all that too expensive. We know what the heartache is...
Of course you can add any excursion or tour package from what we offer on our site to your order. Up to 5 family members can travel with us in our 7 seat van.