According to Baba

A Collaborative Oral History of Sudbury's Ukrainian Community

Stacey Zembrzycki

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  • Published: March 2014
  • Subject Listing: Canadian History
  • Bibliographic information: 224 pp., 16 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Dreams of steady employment in the mining sector led thousands of Ukrainian immigrants to northern Ontario in the early 1900s. As a child, historian Stacey Zembrzycki listened to her Baba's stories about Sudbury's small but polarized community and what it was like growing up ethnic during the Depression.

According to Baba grew out of those stories, out of a granddaughter's desire to capture the experiences of her grandparents' generation on paper. Eighty-two interviews conducted by Stacey and her grandmother, Olga, laid the groundwork for this insightful and deeply personal social history of one of Canada's most colourful ethnic communities. The interview process also brought to light the challenges of doing collaborative oral history with community members, particularly as Stacey lost authority to her Baba, wrestled it back, and eventually came to share it, and as interviewees met questions with nostalgic reminiscences, subversive humour, or impenetrable silence.

By providing a realistic glimpse into the hard work that goes into making communities partners in oral history research, this book provides a new paradigm for studying the politics of memory, one that recognizes that people are not passive recipients of their histories but rather counter and create narratives about the past by invoking alternative ways of remembering.