Having grown up in Alberta through the 1970s and 1980s, I can attest to a lingering of a great deal of racial prejudges against Ukrainians. Local comedians (and car salesmen on TV) would wear “rubber-shoes,” dress sloppily, and speak in broken English to imitate the stereotypical “ignorant Ukrainian.” I knew that a “Ukrainian backhoe” was a shovel and I had heard the following joke more than enough:
Q. How many Ukrainians does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Eleven: one to hold the light bulb and ten to turn the ladder.
My father-in-law’s family would have been even more aware of such an attitude since they are Ukrainian. However, it would depend on what part of Alberta and how many Ukrainians lived in that area. One of his aunts was hired for her first teaching position in northern Alberta. When the persons who had hired her found out that she was Ukrainian, they fired her. There are now laws in place to prevent such disgusting behaviour.
I found the story mention in the above interview of Dr. Wahlsten interesting because it was about a Ukrainian family living in northern Alberta. Although there are physical problems that can cause psychosis, for the most part, it is caused by abuse, trauma, and deprivation. Now imagine a poor family from Ukraine, or even a second generation Canadian family from an isolated Ukrainian community, who do not speak English coming to northern Alberta. They had little money in the first place; they do not speak the language of the people where they live; and, nobody will give the man any work. They are stuck in a hostile environment with children and just attempting to survive. This is speculation; however, it is very possible and even likely. It also easily explains why the mother would be experiencing psychosis. These children were most likely not experiencing parental abuse, but social abuse, and for that, they were taken away from their family and abused more.
If this wasn’t enough, any news from home (i.e. Ukraine) at that time could have been enough to traumatize someone into psychosis. The socialist government in Russia was attempting to commit genocide against Ukrainians, particularly Ukrainian Catholics. It seems a less extreme socialist government was attempting to do the same in Alberta with a “more humane” form of eugenics.
I admit that I am speculating here, but it is almost certain that if this family had been relocated to just east of Edmonton (or at least one of a couple small communities of Ukrainians in northern Alberta), everything would resolve. They would be with people who spoke their language; the man could find work; and the Church would have assisted them. They most likely needed the assistance of a true physician of souls (i.e. a Catholic or Orthodox priest), and not a false physician of souls (i.e. psychiatrists) who purported to assist them.
It is interesting that it was in 1972 that Bishop Vasyl Velychkovsky completed his three year sentence in an Eastern Ukraine psychiatric hospital due to accusations of anti-Soviet agitation. Having been exiled from Ukraine, he was invited to come to Canada. He gave the priests’ retreat that year in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, before dying in June of that same year. He has been declared a martyr because he died from the treatment he received in that Soviet controlled psychiatric hospital, which included injections of various poisons and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It was also in 1972 that the Alberta Eugenics Board was dismantled and the Sexual Sterilization Act was repealed.
To lighten the mood:
For some reason, I have an aversion to racism of any kind (although I do like to poke fun at some stereotypes with no intended ill will, much of which is political). However, last fall, I was having a beer with the rector and a hieromonk in the rectory of the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral. The rector said to me, “How many Ukrainians does it take to change a light bulb?”
I sheepishly replied, “I don’t know if I what to hear this. I’ve heard too many of these jokes when I was young.”
He said, “No! If you’re going to be Ukrainian, you have to know this. How many Ukrainians does it take to change a light bulb?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
To which he replied, “Eleven: one to hold the light bulb and ten to turn the ladder.”
I responded, “That’s the same joke I heard when I was young.”
He replied with a smile as he took another drink of beer, “Of course. It’s true!”
That was all I needed. The next day, I wrote the following:
Q. How many Roman Catholics does it take to change the light bulb?
A. It’s hard to tell. The majority of theologians said the light bulb cannot be changed, while a minority of theologians said it can be changed. The pope wrote an encyclical about how the light bulb can and should be changed… and ever since, everyone has been arguing whether this was his own personal opinion or whether he was speaking ex cathedra.
(Meanwhile, eleven Ukrainians with a step ladder changed the light bulb while they thought nobody was looking. Although, the few Roman Catholics who did see it say that they were really Polish.)
Q. How many Eastern Orthodox does it take to change the light bulb?
A. It takes at least eleven Orthodox Christians to change the light bulb, but they’re not counting. (Although some also say that it was really Russians who changed it.)
Q. How many Eastern Catholics does it take to change the light bulb?
A. The light bulb was changed. Rome hasn’t noticed, and nobody is saying anything. (Although, some say it was the Ruthenians who changed it.)
Q. How many Oriental Orthodox does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Same as above, only they describe it as a folding ladder and calculate the number of Orthodox Christians differently, but still conclude with at least eleven of them.
Q. How many Assyrian Christians of the East does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Same as above, only they prefer to call it the incandescent lamp.
Q. How many Protestants does it take to change the light bulb?
A. The answer varies from church to church, and if you don’t find one you like, you can start your own.
Q. How many Muslims does it take to change the light bulb?
A. There is no god save Allah and Muhammad is His light bulb changer.
Q. How many Hindus does it take to change the light bulb?
A. There are many light bulbs and many ways to change them. Light is a concept by which we measure what we see.
Q. How many Traditional Chinese does it take to change the light bulb?
A. The Ancestors have changed the light bulb.
Q. How many Buddhists does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Once you reach enlightenment, you will have no need for light bulbs.
Q. How many Taoists does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Two can change the light bulb when they are balanced on a ladder of five steps.
Q. How many Shintoists does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Any number of Shintoists can change the light bulb, but they must first be ritually purified.
Q. How many Sikhs does it take to change the light bulb?
A. All humans can change the all pervading light bulb without discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, or gender.
Q. How many Jews does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Twelve Jews, no more, no less. The uncircumcised can never change the light bulb.
Q. How many Rastas does it take to change the light bulb?
A. Haile Selassie is the light bulb.
“Hey, mon. Bob say Archbishop Yesehaq speak true Rasta.”
“I don’t care, mon. Yesehaq also say we hav’ta give up the herb.”
Q. How many Agnostic does it take to change the light bulb?
A. I believe the light bulb was changed, but can we say who changed it or how it was changed?
Q. How many Atheists does it take to change the light bulb?
A. The light bulb was changed. This is a scientific fact. We haven’t discovered conclusively how it was changed, but we know religion had nothing to do with it. The leading theory is that Aliens changed it. Unconfirmed witnesses say the Aliens smelled of vodka and left a thermos of borscht behind.