Debby-Lynn Ritsco

Debby-Lynn Ritsco, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, completed her Master of Arts in Integrated Studies, with a focus in Cultural Studies, at Athabasca University. As an educator, Debby recognized incongruities in the public school system that did not address the essential learning needs of students from multicultural backgrounds. Unambiguous interest in her ancestors’ immigration to Canada emerged while viewing the documentary film Freedom Had a Price, produced by Yurij Luhovy. Further research exhumed why there was double erasure of genealogy records of thousands of Eastern European immigrants prior to the First World War and why the Canadian histories of these immigrants, including their contributions to the nation-building of Canada, was not taught in public schools and in universities. Scholarly discourse of Danny Schur, Donald Avery, and Howard Palmer, juxtaposed with archived newspaper articles and government policy debates re-created the mainstream social imaginary of the Dominion of Canada prior to World War I. Non-existent records of genealogies were the catalyst for delving into the social imaginary of the recruited, as reflected in translated unpublished private memoirs. Fragmented cultural continuity related to the Enemy Alien/Red Bolshevik Legacy, as manifested by inter-generational psychologically crippling effects in successive generations, is explored throughout “Conspiracy of Silence”: Ukrainian-Canadians 1896-1920. As an epilogue, Adriana Luhovy’s (Yurij Luhovy’s daughter) documentary film, Recovery Room, captures the resurgence of spiritual solidarity among Eastern Ukrainians, Western Ukrainians, and Ukrainians living abroad. Debby continues to research strategies that will rekindle voice, restore the traditional ways of knowing, and foster resilience within subaltern cultural groups in society.


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