The name of my immigrant ancestor was Andre Semlanoi and he was my grandfather. He spoke French, English, Ukranian, Polish, Russian and German. He was born in 1916 in Kharkow in the Ukraine on a farm. It was hard for him because he lived on a farm. So it was rural, not urban.
In 1932 the communists took over the Ukraine and took all the land away from the people.Seven million Ukrainians died. Andre’s father, my Great grandpa Paulo Semlanoi, lost his farm and was sent to a Siberian prison. Another word for where he was sent in Siberia is the Gulag. There were more than eighteen million people that went to the Gulag from 1929 to 1953. My great-grandfather’s crime was owning land. People were sent to Siberia because the government wanted to take their land away.
My grandpa Andre was 16 years old when his father was sent to Siberia. Andre and his sister Halyna were sent to a communist prison school! That was the last time my grandpa saw his sister. After five years great-grandpa Paulo returned from Siberia but he couldn’t come within 100 kilometres of his old farm.
Finally, it was 1937 and my Grandpa Andre went into the Russian army. He was taken prisoner by the German army and then he escaped and went to the French resistance army. He lived in France after the war until 1952. Then he came to Canada. Andre left all of his family behind and did not keep in touch with them and it was very hard for him.
Andre came to Canada by sea. He travelled by a boat which is called an ocean liner. On this voyage he was alone. He was sad and alone. He met other Ukranian people and became friends but then he had to go on.
Andre came here to live in Canada and to also find a job. He did not care what he did for a living. He just needed money for food and shelter. He chose Canada because he wanted a new start in life. When he came to Canada he started off in Toronto, then he settled in Montreal for a couple of years and after that he moved to Ontario where he spent the remainder of his life.
My grandfather died on January 1st and his funeral was on January 5th, 2008.