Jessie Saruk

Date:  2018
Location: Lamont
Profile: Jessie Saruk (nee Basisty) was the third child of pre-WWI Galician immigrants who arrived in Canada with their parents in 1907 to homestead in the Ukrainian bloc settlement northeast of Edmonton. She describes the mine collapse which killed her grandfather while ‘working away’ to earn capital needed for the farm. Her father worked ‘away’ on railway construction gangs for the same reason. She describes the role of the midwife, as well as traditional medicines and cures employed by Ukrainian settlers. Saruk began her education in a one-room school where Ukrainian children were punished for speaking Ukrainian. She finally graduated and attended Normal School during the Great Depression to become a teacher in the same one-room schools, later marrying another teacher and becoming active in the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA). She describes the evolution of the United Church and the religious denominations which divided the Ukrainian community. She insists on the term ‘Canadian Ukrainians’ to describe the ethnicity of people in her community.
Keywords: Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA); Canadian Ukrainians; Great Depression; Homesteaders; Midwife; Mine collapse; National hall; One-room schools; Railway construction; Ukrainian Canadians and religion. 
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See also: Women and Work