The late Katherine Duchnaj was born August 23, 1926 in the small town of Tcherewky near Kiev. Her father Ivan Slipez, was a veterinarian in the village. Her mother Maria, died in 1933, during the Holodomor, the famine genocide perpetrated on Ukraine by the Soviet regime. At the time, Katherine was only seven years old. Katherine and her siblings suffered famine and many hardships as their home was confiscated by the Soviet regime. Her father remarried and three more children were born to the family. Shortly after, Ivan was forcibly taken from his home by the Soviets for protesting against their regime. He was never heard from again.
During the Second World War, after the Nazi occupation of the Ukraine, at the young age of fifteen, Katherine was forcibly taken from her home by the Nazis to work in a munitions plant. After some time working in unspeakable conditions with other young Ukrainians she was assigned to work at the farm of an Austrian farmer. During her stay in Austria, she met Mykola, a young Kozak from the region of Kuban who was living in a displaced person camp. Love blossomed and the young couple were married in Salzburg, Austria, October 5, 1947.
The young couple had to make major decisions- where would they live? They decided to emigrate to Santiago, Chile with hopes and dreams for a better life. Their children were born there, son Victor on January 24, 1950, and daughter Valya on August 4, 1954. As political and financial stability deteriorated in Chile, Mykola and Katherine decided to move to Canada. In 1956, the young family arrived in Toronto. They became members of the St Volodymyr Parish and took an active role in the community. Katherine was always ready to help---at summer camp as a cook, in various parent committees at the Ukrainian school, in youth groups her children participated in and various other community activities. She was an active member of the church choir for many years.
After many years of living in Toronto, Katherine and Mykola decided in 1992 to retire to their cottage on Lake Simcoe. Their labour of love was to build their retirement home, which they both planned and worked on together. Unfortunately, their dreams of a peaceful and joyful retirement were not to come true. One week before a long awaited trip to the Ukraine to visit family, Mykola suffered a heart attack which resulted in major surgery. Medical complications left him in a weakened state. For over ten years, until his death in 2003, Katherine remained his primary caregiver. She made every effort to make sure her dear husband had the best possible care and attention with all her love, a fierce determination, patience and good humour.
Mykola passed away on July 1, 2003. He loved Katherine very much and often said that she was the one who kept him alive. Despite unspeakable sadness and loss, Katherine continued. Shortly after Mykola’s passing, she herself developed some medical problems. However, she overcame them and continued to live at Lake Simcoe.
Katherine was a hard working soul. She loved gardening. Her garden was the envy of many since it started blooming in early spring and continued to late fall. She spent many happy hours tending to it. Although she had not had an opportunity to pursue an academic education, she was very knowledgeable and was always reading, especially books and articles on health and wellness.
Katherine was a great support and example to her children and grandchildren. She was devoted to them and would make any sacrifices to help them. Her hard work, self-sacrifice and struggles to overcome great hardships with determination and good humour serve as an example to her family. She will be sorely missed and never forgotten. After a long, hard, journey, may she rest in peace."
February 05, 2010
6- 9 pm. Panachida at 7:30 pm
February 06, 2010