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    Hey All, 

    Just signed for membership literally 5 minutes ago, and can’t believe my luck finding this community. 
    I mentioned in an introductory post, that I’m trying to piece together my family’s story and find out who the hell my People are – like, REALLY are. (haha). My grandfather, was a Yaremchuk/Demchuk, born in Alberta to Bukovinian parents hailing from Slobedka. They were part of the first wave (1896) of immigrants from the region.

    I found a 1921 Census record for Wostok, Alberta that has them, and their children listed as self-identified “Ruthenian”-speaking, ethnic/national “Bukovinians”, who practice “Orthodox” religion. What’s interesting to me is the juxtaposition of this self-identification against the data of surrounding families on the same Census record, who all claim “Ukrainian” as their language, “Galicia” as their ethnic/national identity, and “Gr. Cath” as their practicing religion. 

    While I have been exploring the notion of possible Rusyn heritage, it’s puzzling that our family name seems to quite obscure in the regions where we immigrated from. There is a famous Hutsul from our region by the name of Nazariy Yaremchuk, but there seems to be no other Yaremchuks that I could identify from that region, connected to the Hutsul Community (at least, within my limits of language. I haven’t actually contacted anyone from there yet because I don’t read cyrillic am only speak English). The name also seems to be somewhat obscure within broader Ukrainian culture as well. The names Jaremzcuk and Demzcuk seem to be heavily concentrated in Olpolski, Poland, north of Lviv, according to worldnames.publicprofiler.org.

    I’ve encountered some scholarly articles that argue Rusnak culture as a subset of the Lemkos. However, there seems to be contradiction to this in journalistic accounts of Rusyn ethnographers who observe Rusnak People as a distinct, but marginalized slovjak-speaking people within predominantly Rusyn communities. 

    Given the cultural outsiderness experienced by my family as they settled in the new lands, it’s understandable that although, my grandfather came to identify as Ukrainian despite his father’s insistence that they were Ruthinian-Bukovinian. As such, it’s further understandable, being not of a Ukrainian ethnicity rooted in his parent’s identities, that there was no transmission of culture passed onto my father and us kids.  To compound this displacement even more, our name was legally shortened to “Yard” to sound more Anglican-Canadian and my grandfather somehow managed to get caught up in the Jehovah Witnesses – his practicing faith and that of my father and his siblings today. After their divorce, my mother had the good sense to distance me and my sister from the Jehovah Witness community so we grew up secularized. 

    At the risk of sounding overly romantic, I have a strong compulsion in me to finally know my Ancestors and find out what remains of them in living culture today. I have a great respect for the Rusyn cultural movement and have no interest in co-opting it, even though I am a registered member of the Carpatho-Rusyn Society. If I am Rusnak, then I want to speak Slovjak, learn, Slovjak stories and songs, discover art, craft, medicines and spirituality specific to them and learn about the lands from which this culture is born. Most importantly, and probably necessary to all these imperatives, is to meet living relatives who identify as Rusnak/Slovjak from these regions, should it be confirmed that I myself am of Rusnak origin.

    If anyone on this forum can steer me to resources/information that might help me to clear this up, I would be gratefully indebted to you.  Sorry if this post is a bit of a ramble. Trying to seek out channels to accurate information so need to include context. Thanks for taking the time/interest in reading it. 



    Ah no way my grandfather is from slobidka as well and also from alberta!



    Neat! Slobidka is the Ukrainian name for the town now so he would’ve come over after my folks did. 
    Any idea of what your grampa was like?



    There were no Rusnaks living in Bukovina.  Rusnaks are living in what’s today eastern Slovakia and possibly south-eastern Poland.

    There was a time when ancestors of all Ukrainians identified themselves Rusyns or Cossacks. First, left bank of Ukraine (east of Dniepr river) was incorporated into Russia. Ancestors in that territory eventually were identified as Malorosy (Little Russians). Later much of right bank (west of Dniepr) was incorporated into Russia, where people were known as Malorysy too. Many continued identifying themselves Rusyns. Galicia, eastern Slovakia , southern Poland, Transcarpathia and Bukovina were part of Austro-Hungary until 1918, so Russia had little influence on those regions. In late 19th and early 20th centuries many people from eastern Slovakia, Bukovina, Galicia, Transcarpathia were enticed with cheap land in Canada. At the same time ancestors of Ukrainians under Russian rule were entice with land in southern Russia, northern Kazakhstan and the Far East of Russia. So people who migrated in Canada from territories that were ruled by Austro-Hungary identified themselves as Rusyns, as ethnic terms Ukrainian and Malorosy were unknown to them. Ethnic term Ukrainian became wide spread in early 20th century only.



    @Sviatogor that’s what I figured. I think there is a small group of hutzuls there.
    @Domiko he was a proud ukrainian. Ended up in the gulag and later joining general anders army made up of polish citizens. When I knew him awesome guy best grandpa a kid could have.



    Hutsuls are a sub-group of Rusyns. They are highlanders and most of them are living a bit further west of Bukovina in Ivano-Frankivsk region. Bukovina is in Chernivtsi region.

    Hutsuls differ from other Rusyns. They have their own dialect , traditional clothing, housing.  Hutsly were pastoralists mostly. Their clothing and housing resembled those of neighbouring Romanians. As many highlanders their social structure was formed in clans till 19th century.



    @Sviatogor the slobidka we are talking about is very close to Ivano Frankivsk. It’s the major town of the area



    Rusyns are made of several subgroups : Lemky, Boiky, Pokutyany, Dolynyany, Lemaky, Lyshaky, Hainali, Verhovyntsi. Hutsuly. Boiky, Lemky and Hutsuly are the largest groups. If OP’s Rusyn ancestor was from Bukovina, then he was likely from Hutsul subroup.

    Map of their settlements: https://s4.postimg.org/5iamt0nvh/image.png



    I thibk he is a plain Jane ukrainian lol



    I just came by to say, that I know some folks with surname Demczuk in Poland, in my village. Jaremczuk is surely present in Poland too. But the village I’m talking about was created by Ruthenian peasants in 16th century, so…



    @zasiedko  I am from generic Ukrainians, too.  :D I love the Hutsul culture, though. Wish I had some in my family. At least, Ukraine and Ukrainians are never boring! 



    @zasiedko too funny! Don’t we all wanna be an indian from somewhere? (lol) 



    If we’re Ukrainian, that’s dope too! I don’t know really anything about Ukrainian culture either, except that you don’t take bogus shit from anyone.  Man, I watched that documentary on Netflix, Ukrainian Winter, and holy-moly it was inspiring! I know Ukraine has been through so much hardship for a long time, but my impression is that it’s because Ukrainians are peace-loving creative people who come from a long line of folks who’ve always believed in doing the right thing no matter how bad things might get. 



    Hutsul sacred geometry is pretty fascinating to stare at though. So what’s the story with Ukrainians then? On my great grandaddy’s immigration papers it says “Russian” for ethnicity, which I assume the dude who wrote it down misunderstood him when he was actually saying “Rusyn”. I heard this happened a lot. 

    So were all Ukrainians Rusyn too at one time and then veered away somehow? Or were Ukrainians actually Russians? Or were Ukrainians always just Ukrainians, except called something else before it became a word? 



    Sorry, Sviatogor, I see your explanation now. So then what distinguishes Ukrainians from Rusyns now if they were Rusyns before?  

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