Lawrence Gushulak

My interviews continued with Lawrence Gushulak. He is a sincere, kind man. Lawrence’s voice was full of pride as he shared parts of his life with me.

Lawrence is 84 years old, and was a popular barber in his day. Sadly, his wife Ilona passed in 2016.

Lawrence has three daughters – two in the district and one in London Ontario. He is blessed with three grandchildren.

Lawrence’s parents were George Gushulak and Sophie (Odokychuck); both were Ukrainian.

Lawrence’s grandfather Metro came from the Ukraine between the years 1903-1905 with promises of land in Manitoba. Metro landed in Sundown, and married Canadian-born Marie. They worked hard to make a life in Canada.

Lawrence’s mother Sophie passed in 2019 at 100 years old. His father George passed in 2005 at the age of 95. Proof that hard work and not an over abundance of things makes for a good long life.

Lawrence speaks fondly of his childhood, carrying out the traditions that were loved by all Ukrainians living in our area.

Lawrence laughed as he told me, “even though I loved the Christmas caroling, I’m thinking my singing voice wasn’t very good.” Lawrence was often told from taller members of the choir to stand in the back and just hum.

Lawrence Gushulak’s family immigrated to Canada between 1903 and 1905, with promise of a new life, and ample land, in Manitoba

He remembers Walter Andrusco teaching Ukrainian reading, writing and dance. He re- members with pride attending St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church, of which he is an active member still today.

Lawrence speaks Ukrainian fluently, learning the language from his maternal Grandmother Mary.

Lawrence spoke of the huge gardens, and preserving food for the winter ahead. He remembers living with his Grandparents one year, where they survived the winter on potato soup. Lawrence made dandelion wine, stored in big tubs.

Up until a few years ago, Lawrence made Easter bread when his wife was no longer able to. He says women in his life have all been great cooks, right down to his daughters.

Lawrence shared, “Ukrainians are hard workers. In my childhood nothing was wasted.” I’m guessing that is still the way of Ukrainian people today.

Lawrence and Ilona taught their girls the Ukraine traditions. He particularly remembers one Christmas teaching the girls traditional Christmas carols, and the girls singing them for his parents. He said they just about fell off their chairs, they were so full of pride. Raising his family was a very fulfilling time for both Lawrence and Ilona.

When I asked Lawrence what he likes most about being a Ukrainian, his answer came immediately, that he loves the culture, traditions and Church.

He feels he can get along with all people, all nationalities and all faiths.

He had wonderful parents and wonderful family members. After talking with this positive, joyous gentleman it was difficult to ask the question “How did you feel as the war began?” His thoughts were, “this shouldn’t be happening. It makes no difference if it’s happening in the Ukraine, Africa or anywhere in the world. People shouldn’t be butchered like they are being.”

It’s obvious to see it sickens Lawrence as it sickens us all. Lawrence feels Zelenskyy is doing a good job. There was a lot of corrupt leadership before Zelenskyy became leader, he said. He’s proud the people are defending their country. Lawrence said the first thing he did when this overtaking of the Ukraine started was contacting the Red Cross. This took him a bit of time as he doesn’t have a computer. However with diligence he was able to find a way to make a monetary donation.

Lawrence is aware that many other Ukrainian residents and many if not all churches in the district are donating money. In our small community that’s probably the best thing we can do.

He’s hoping the government can fast track and get Ukrainian people to Canada as quickly as possible.

When I asked Lawrence to share any final words he’s like to share, He said, “make monetary donations to help the cause and pray. There is a power greater than Putin and God will take control and bring peace back to the world.”

Lawrence feels that the Russian people have concerns just like us. Sadly Putin is filling their heads with propaganda he wants them to hear. Lawrence feels until Putin is gone their will be no improvement.