Kids from Glenwood Elementary and Kenneth Gordon schools in southeast Burnaby released chum salmon fry (babies) into Byrne Creek today. The event was great fun as it always is. Our DFO community advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert shows up with the tank full of fish from the Bell-Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek, and the kids are given plastic bags of the wee fish to release into the creek.
A couple of beautiful trilliums graced Byrne Creek Ravine Park in the last few days. We love spotting these somewhat rare flowers.
I would like to thank teacher Gary Thompson and his students at South Slope Elementary in Burnaby for the package of thank you cards that I received today. It was totally unexpected and greatly appreciated.
Gary and his students have participated in the Salmon in the Classroom program for many years. They receive chum salmon eggs from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and care for them in their classroom until they hatch as alevins. They feed them until the tiny fish reach the fry stage, and then the kids release them into Byrne Creek. As volunteer streamkeepers, my wife Yumi and I have had the privilege of guiding the kids to the creek for several years now.
This year's South Slope Elementary release was particularly meaningful to me, because my Mom was dying of cancer. I didn't tell Gary, but it was an uplifting moment being with his kids that morning, and seeing them so full of life and wonder.
Later that day I told Mom about the fry release, and though she was heavily medicated, she indicated that she understood, and was happy. She loved kids, she loved teaching, and she was a teacher of teachers. She died that evening, and it wasn't until today that I made the connection that South Slope Elementary is right across the street from St. Michael's Hospice, the wonderful place where she spent her last few days.
On a beautiful spring day, our cat Choco enjoyed the cherry tree blossoming over our deck, and Dori our turtle perked up as well. Mom really enjoyed Choco when Yumi and I would go camping and leave the cat at her place. We got Choco a couple of years ago as an adult from the SPCA, and she took awhile to settle in and warm up. Mom's lap was the first Choco curled up and slept in, and Mom was always proud of that.
Here is the obituary that should appear in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, and the photo. We chose Saskatoon because that is where mom spent most of her life and professional career.
Mom as a young woman.
With profound sadness the family announces the passing of Sonia Violet Morris (nee Stratychuk), 73, in Burnaby, BC, on Thursday, April 5, 2007.
She is survived by her loving husband Barry; son Paul Cipywnyk (Yumi Kosaka), Burnaby; daughter Raissa (Bill) Choi, and grandchildren Raya & Benjamin, Los Angeles. She leaves sister Roma (Stefan) Franko, and nephews Roman and Ivan, and their wives and children, all in Toronto. She was predeceased by her father Roman (1986) and mother Sonia (2001).
A community leader, teacher, promoter of multiculturalism, and supporter of educational and charitable causes, she will be remembered for her legacy of love, acceptance, nurturing and understanding. Her calm, caring approach to life, and her conviction that all people deserved respect and the freedom to achieve whatever they desired, inspired everyone she touched. From a pioneer childhood in a small town to a path-breaking career in education, she never forgot her Ukrainian roots, and after retiring, devoted her days to working on translations of Ukrainian literature into English.
Born Nov. 23, 1933, in Windsor, ON, Sonia completed primary education and high school in Canora, SK, where she was the Canadian Legion Gold Medalist in 1951. Based on her educational record, she was selected for a Weston Tour of Great Britain in 1951. Qualifying for several scholarships, Sonia received a Bachelor of Arts with Great Distinction (1957) from McGill University, a Bachelor of Education with Great Distinction (1960) from the University of Saskatchewan, a Master of Education (1968) from the U. of S., and a Master of Philosophy (1976) from Columbia University, New York.
Beginning her career as a social worker in the late 50s, Sonia subsequently taught at the elementary and high school levels for the Saskatoon Public School Board from 1958 – 63. She then joined the College of Education at the U. of S. where she taught for 32 years, including roles as Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Acting Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs, and Acting Head of the Department of Communications, Continuing and Vocational Education, capping her career with four years as Assistant Dean, Student Affairs. She edited several academic books, supervised or was a committee member for dozens of theses, published papers in proceedings of numerous conferences, gave many invited lectures, and wrote or collaborated on dozens of reports.
Inspired by her hard-working, community focused parents, Sonia’s passion was promoting the Ukrainian language and culture within an overarching goal of fostering multiculturalism and battling racism in Canada and around the world. She was a founding member of the Saskatchewan Teachers of Ukrainian where she contributed from 1968 – 2001, and an original member of the Ukrainian Curriculum Committee of the Saskatchewan Department of Education, on which she sat from 1968 – 79. Together with her sister Roma, she developed Ukrainian correspondence and audio-visual programs used by the Saskatchewan Department of Education. Sonia was Vice-Chair of both the Federal Minister’s Advisory Committee on Minority Languages from 1978 – 80, and the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Heritage Languages from 1981 – 85. Sonia was Vice-Chair and Chair of the Saskatchewan Multicultural Advisory Council, and founder and President of the Saskatchewan Association for Multicultural Education. Sonia devoted eight years to the Canadian Council for Multicultural and Intercultural Education, including four years as President. Other contributions included terms on the Saskatchewan Council of Cultural Organizations, and the Minster’s Advisory Committee on Multicultural Legislation.
Sonia loved music and art, and many will remember her fine soprano voice and emotive piano playing. She chaired sub-committees of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Fine Arts in Education from 1975 – 80, and was Vice-Chair and Chair of the Saskatchewan Arts Board from 1998 – 2001.
Sonia spent many volunteer hours with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, and helped establish the parish of All Saints in Saskatoon. She was a leader in promoting educational exchange programs between the U. of S. and the Province of Saskatchewan, and the former Ukrainian S.S.R. She was overjoyed to see Ukraine gain its freedom, and helped arrange several pedagogical exchanges with Ukrainian universities.
Sonia received many awards, including the 2001 Saskatchewan Volunteer Award for Sport, Culture and Recreation.
Above all, she was a supportive wife to her devoted husband Barry, caring mother, and adoring grandmother. She enjoyed life to the fullest, and fulfilled her personal motto to help others be happy by allowing them to be free to make their own choices and decisions. Memory eternal.
At Sonia’s request, there will be no public service. Memorial donations can be made to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, 202 – 952 Main St., Winnipeg, MB, R2W 3P4; the Canadian Cancer Society, Attention: Stephani Agg, CFRE, 565 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 4J4; or Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON, K1N 1H9
My mom, Sonia Morris, was a founder of Language Lanterns Publications Inc. along with her sister Roma Franko.
At the time of her passing, Mom and Roma had published 15 volumes of translations of Ukrainian literature into English, accomplishing this immense task after they both retired from the University of Saskatchewan. Roma translated, Mom edited, and I helped out with proofreading and the website.
Roma intends to publish five more volumes over the coming years that Mom had already worked on, and I will help Roma achieve that goal. It'll be a challenge filling Mom's shoes, but it's the least we can do to honour and respect her memory.
During Mom's illness Yumi and I still tried to get out for our regular Byrne Creek walks as often as possible to clear our minds and get some exercise. Mom loved flowers, and she would have appreciated these scenes.
Here's a potpourri of shots I took along the creek and in Ron McLean Park over several days.
This teeny shrew (about the size of my thumb) was scurrying along the sidewalk on Southridge Dr. in southeast Burnaby. Since it was heading for the busy street, Yumi gently picked it up and carried it several meters up the embankment into the park where she released it.
I doubt if Mom would have liked shrews, but she would have understood Yumi's urge to protect the wee tyke.
My mother, Sonia Morris (nee Stratychuk), passed away late Thursday evening, April 5, in the comforting presence of her husband, sister and children. She leaves a legacy of love, acceptance, nurturing and understanding that we will remember to try to heal the gaping holes in our hearts. I will post several entries here over the coming days to celebrate her life as a mother, wife, community activist, proud Ukrainian-Canadian, multiculturalist, professor, writer and editor.
Mom stared cancer straight in the eye several times and never flinched, protecting and shielding her loved ones until the end.
Until we publish an obituary, I would like to let people know that Mom requested a simple cremation and a dinner of remembrance with immediate family instead of a public service, and we are honouring her wishes.
We would all like to thank the wonderful nurses, doctors and support staff at Burnaby Hospital, who worked so hard to keep Mom comfortable, and the caring staff at St. Michael's Hospice who gently provided for her in her final few days. You have all done us an immeasurable service.