Grandma Vicki was an extraordinary woman, who was sincerely loved and cherished by her husband, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great great grandchildren, and all of her friends.
Vicki Sawchuck York was born in Derazno Ukraine to Harry and Anna Sawchuck on December 27th 1926. Vicki was the third of seven children of whom her siblings were Lillian, Roy, Nancy, Mildred, Sonnia, infant brother, and surrogate brother Ben.
Vicki’s father chafed at the lack of freedom in their country and decided to move the family to Canada, in which there was the promise of affordable land and the chance of prosperity.
In June of 1930 the family arrived in Halifax. They travelled to Edmonton via train, where they would spend 4 days on the grounds behind the train station. Vicki’s father found the legislative building where he filed for homestead near Barrhead, in a district called Shoal Creek. There is where Vicki grew up and completed her elementary schooling.
At the age of 11 Vicki moved to Edmonton to live in a convent and complete her high school education. Vicki earned her stay at the convent by doing dishes and housework to pay for her room and board. Vicki finished her high school education at the ripe age of 13 years old. Now where did she go from here?
Well, Vicki always wanted to become a nurse, but at her age she was too young to get into nursing school, so she said well I want to become a teacher, and was again faced with the obstacle of being too young.
Vicki was the determined of type and not going further with her education at this point was just not an option. So, she made the journey to the parliament building, walked in and insisted she speak with the minister of education. You can imagine this 13 year-old girl walking into the parliament building and asking to speak to the minister of education and wonder what must have been running through the clerk’s minds, but she did end up speaking to the assistant minister whom she clearly convinced of her capabilities and she was approved to go into the teacher college.
One more obstacle was in her way, she required 50$ to pay for the schooling.
She sought out the public health nurse for the area who was one of few with a steady guaranteed income and presented her story, and sure enough that nurse provided Vicki with the 50$ so that she could attend school.
In the 1940’s many schools in northern Alberta would not be open because many staff members joined the forces, therefore students attending Teacher College were sent to teach for a 3-4 month period to fill these positions in which it was considered a practicum. Vicki was sent to Bonanza, AB and arrived there at the age of 16. Here Vicki would be filled with the task of teaching 36 students in all grades from 1-9 with no textbooks, only that of 4 blackboards that she would fill with work every night.
During this time Vicki was staying with a woman by the name of Veronica or as others knew her as Ronnie, who was her soon to be husband’s sister.
Leonard and Vicki married in the spring of 1944, and after Leonard returned from overseas they bought land and settled down to farm. Their first-born Gerry came shortly there after in 1945, middle child Dennis in 1948, and then they were blessed with their third child Debby in 1957.
Leonard and Vicki lived for 50+ years in Bonanza, and finally in 2005 they made the move into Dawson Creek to retire.
Throughout Vicki’s life she was an active member in the community including being an active member of the Catholic Women’s League, a key member of the school board, travelling to conferences and advocating for the education system, judging at local fairs, garden shows, and even being a judge for local student essays. Vicki was known to tutor local children and working to teach anyone that was willing to learn.
Vicki also had a passion for travelling, she shared fond memories and stories of her travels to Spain, Portugal, United Kingdom, France, Ukraine and Russia.
Vicki was a woman of strong faith, and her devotion to the church was evident in her every day life. .
Vicki noted that one of her greatest inspirations in her life was the church community.
There are so many words to describe Vicki including hardworking, intelligent, strong willed, poised, loving and kind just to name a few. These attributes were evident in Vicki’s everyday life in her sharing years of wisdom and insight in the importance of being a positive example to others. Most importantly Vicki instilled in others that everyone in life was equal and that everyone deserves respect and kindness. Vicki may have been a woman of small stature but she made a large impact on everyone she met.
Grandma Vicki left a quote for herself to all of us today that I would like to share: Let my thoughts come to you when I am gone, like the after glow of sunset at the morning of starry silence.
Written and presented by Viki’s
Great Granddaughter Cydnee
Vicki passed away peacefully with her family by her side, on Monday, August 12, 2019 in Dawson Creek, at the age of 92 years.
A prayer service was be on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 7:00 PM at the Notre Dame Catholic Church, Dawson Creek, BC. A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Saturday, August 17, at 11:00 AM at the Notre Dame Catholic Church. Father Vener Sabacan officiated. Vicki was laid to rest next to her loving husband, Leonard, in the Brookside Cemetery following the service.
For friends so wishing, donations were made in memory of Vicki to Step Up N Ride Society, PO Box 2459, Dawson Creek, BC V1G4T9 or to Rotary Manor Residents Council Fund, 1121 90 Avenue, Dawson Creek, BC V1G5A3.
Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium