13Oct 17

Wyszynski Family Reunion Visit

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On September 12th READ Saskatoon had the pleasure of a special visit from the Wyszynski family. Family members spanning four generations gathered from Ontario and Michigan to explore their family history in and around Glaslyn, Saskatchewan. Education and literacy is extremely important to Rick Wyszynski and his wife, both educators, as well as to the rest of the visiting family members, and that is what drew Rick to contact READ Saskatoon.

Rick also had a personal reason for visiting Saskatchewan and seeking out READ Saskatoon – his mother was denied education and never learned to read or write. To honour her love, and support others that may struggle with literacy, the Wyszynski family spent an hour with us talking about the importance of education and community literacy programs, and they made a significant donation to the agency.

He shared his mother’s story with us, summarised below:

“My mom was born on a farm in Soviet Belarus — the best estimate is October 1912. She was denied an education in her native childhood Belarus, and again when she and her family arrived in Glaslyn Saskatchewan in 1929.

She learned to speak and understand some English by listening in on a neighbour’s party line telephone. But she had to rely on others to decipher a sign, a newspaper, or her own child’s birth certificate. Strangers must have been very patient and kind in those days because as a pretty teenaged girl she ventured to Saskatoon and even New York City for work as a domestic. How did she find her way? How did she ride a bus, cross a border, or get something to eat? …she had to rely on sheer will and survival.

 In my childhood I came to realize she couldn’t read me a bedtime story or the birthday card I drew up by hand. It was just accepted among the family.

 I've always felt her life would have been so different if she had gone to school in the first place, or at least had access to adult learning later on. That's the main reason I'm returning to Saskatchewan: to try to help someone who may be in that same situation.”

Thank you, Rick and Wyszynski family for supporting our work and helping ensure adults have access to free literacy supports.