We Remember


Nadia Popil (aka Nadiya Pedan-Popil) was born in the early 1920s in Horlivka, Eastern Ukraine, Donetsk Oblast, that very same  region presently contested and occupied by Russian military forces. She survived the horrors of the Stalin-era persecutions, land confiscation and the forced famine, the infamous Holodomor of 1932-33.  Her family relocated to the city of Donetsk, where despite the Nazi invasion and occupation of 1941-43, she managed to obtain a baccalaureate degree in Russian language and literature from the Donetsk State Teachers Institute. Her youngest brother Slava was killed in battle in the war, her other brother Yevhen and sister Halyna survived along with her mother Anna. Her father Petro Pedan  was previously incarcerated as a kulak under the Stalin regime and perished in an arctic Soviet gulag prison, a fact disclosed only in the 1950’s.

After WW2, she and her, now predeceased (2008), husband Jaroslaw (Jerry) immigrated to Canada in 1948 from the Mykola  Lysenko DP camp in Hannover Germany, first landing under sponsorship, in Brandon, then Winnipeg and finally settling into the Ukrainian ex-patriate diaspora community in Toronto. While in Toronto she taught Ukrainian language, culture and history at the primary level at the Ukrainian National Federation then later at the high school level at St. Nicholas Catholic Church. Continuing her studies at the University of Ottawa, she obtained a Master of Arts Degree in 1965 in Ukrainian literature analysis.  She started lecturing at the University of Regina Saskatchewan in 1967 and continuing her studies further obtained a doctorate magna cum laude from the Ukrainian Free University in Munich in 1969. At the University of Regina, she established an undergraduate Ukrainian humanities course program in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies, became department head and published a book of translations “Ukrainian Folk Stories by Marko Vovchok”,  along with other numerous articles on language learning, teaching methods and literature analyses.

In retirement in Kelowna, she was active in the Ukrainian community participating in meetings of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and leading many celebratory multi-media presentations: Shevchenko’s birthday, Ukraine Independence, etc., at the Ukrainian Catholic Church.  Many of her oil paintings,  taken up as a hobby in the 90s, remain in Kelowna homes. She always longed to rejoin, reconnect  with her family in Ukraine to the very end. Now she is finally at peace.

She is survived by her son Roman (spouse Judy) retired scientist, residing in Arizona.

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