Obituary of SONIA KUSHLIAK
November 25, 1924 – July 19, 2022
Sonia Kushliak peacefully fell asleep in the Lord, surrounded by her family, at Rockyview General Hospital, Calgary. Last Rites were administered by The Very Reverend Father Patrick Yamniuk.
Sonia was born in the village of Andrushi, Kyivska Oblast, Ukraine, to parents Andriy and Palazhka, and had two brothers and two sisters.
She and most of her immediate family miraculously survived the Stalin-engineered man-made famine, the Holodomor of 1932-1933. She witnessed firsthand the horrors, hardships, and slow tortuous starvation of her family and neighbours. Having such vivid memories, she was asked to speak at many events as well as being interviewed by various media during Holodomor commemorations the fourth week of every November.
During the German occupation of Ukraine, at the age of only 16, she was selected to be taken to Germany for forced labour, where she was put to work on a large dairy farm. After the war, she found her way to a displaced persons camp near Munich where she was able to continue her education. She was accepted to the University of Munich, earning a degree in Dentistry. She practiced dentistry at the camp before being sponsored to move to Selkirk, Manitoba by Stella Boresky, a well-known icon in the community. She looked after her three young sons and their home while Stella ran her business, Selkirk Bakery. Sonia was quickly embraced as family. After her sponsorship period, Stella helped her gain employment at Selkirk General Hospital.
During Sonia’s years in Germany, she met the love of her life, Michael. After corresponding for a few years, in 1952 he moved to Manitoba along with his parents, and they were married. By this time Sonia, having saved every penny of her earnings at the hospital, had managed to purchase a small starter home for them all. Michael established an electronics and appliance business, Radio and TV Clinic, and Sonia then devoted her time to managing the business.
God gifted our mother with keen intelligence, boundless energy, and an optimistic outlook on life. A consummate entertainer she hosted a dinner party almost every weekend. In the summer, everything moved to the cottage. The usual ingredients were excellent Ukrainian food, stimulating conversation, and much laughter. Everyone left with their stomachs full and their spirits uplifted.
Family came first for our mother. She lived for her grandchildren, encouraging each one to reach for their maximum potential, while also instilling love for and knowledge of the Ukrainian language and culture, and a firm belief in the Orthodox faith.
Until Sonia moved to Calgary one and a half years ago, she had been a member of St Mary the Protectress Orthodox Cathedral in Winnipeg for almost 70 years, a member of the Ukrainian Women’s Association of Canada and the Ukrainian Benevolent Brotherhood of St Andrew.
Sonia was predeceased by her parents and siblings, her dear partner in life, her husband Michael, and most recently her best friend of over 60 years, Maria Zajcew.
Leaving to mourn Sonia are her children Helen and Michael (Alexandra); grandchildren Christina, Catherine, Andriy, and Sophia (Cheah) and great-granddaughter Kalyna; extended family members in Ukraine; descendants of Stella Boresky – including one remaining son, Bob (Judy), of Denver, Colorado, and her special “niece” Rilla (John) of Clifford, North Dakota; close friends the Pawluk family, John and Sandra of Selkirk; her many friends at the Millennium Villa of Winnipeg where she resided until recently, friends from church, and throughout Ukraine, Canada, and the United States.
With deep gratitude to Dr Fine, Dr Miller, and NC Lyndsay Litwin of South Health Campus Hospital, Calgary, and Dr Sachdeva and nursing staff on Unit 72 at Rockyview General Hospital, Calgary, for your medical expertise and compassionate care.
Private funeral services will be held in Calgary with The Very Reverend Father Patrick Yamniuk officiating, soon followed by interment at All Saints Cemetery, West St Paul, Manitoba, with The Very Reverend Father Alexander Harkavyi officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St Mary the Protectress Cathedral in Winnipeg or St Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor in Calgary.
The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.
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