He knew his mother was born and raised in Canada with parents and siblings from Ukraine, and his father was born and raised in Ukraine and emigrated to Canada as a young man. Dale and his siblings had asked questions on occasion but unfortunately, both parents passed away before they could fully learn the family history. Everyone thought the stories were lost forever.
Dale had always been curious about that mystery, but it wasn’t until he had a health scare that he finally started seeking answers to the questions that he’d had all his life.
“My mother had her family here, but my father had no family that I was aware of. As I built out the family tree, I realized my father’s box was just a dead end, and that raised a lot of questions for me. Who were my grandparents? Did I have Aunts and Uncles? I just had to know.”
So, Dale and his siblings began searching for the answers in Canadian records and ship manifests to see what they could find. They quickly realized, though, that the records were incredibly difficult to navigate, with misspellings of names and villages.
“My family spent almost 20 years and thousands of hours researching our ancestry to see what we could find but kept running into roadblocks and dead ends.”
Dale knew he’d need help, so he looked into companies that specialized in genealogy research. That’s when he found Andriy Dorosh, who worked with Dale to discover his roots and reconnect with his Ukrainian heritage.
A journey home
Andriy worked with Dale and his wife to create an itinerary for a trip to Ukraine in 2019.
While their primary reason for going was to honour Dale’s parents with a scholarship program for nursing students at the Ternopil State Medical University, Dale hoped that being there in person might also lead to some discoveries of his father’s family history.
“The very first thing we did was have one of Andriy’s fantastic guides take us around Lviv. There were certain things I really wanted to see, and our guide made it happen. It was really enjoyable. Then Andriy picked us up and took us to Ternopil for a meeting with the University. He came in to interpret for us, and he was able to listen to what you say and interpret it at the same time, so the conversation flowed so easily – we really connected with everyone there, both students and senior medical staff. After that, Andriy took us to my father’s village of Uhryn and I walked down the dirt road that my father would’ve run down when he was young.”
Uncovered stories and discovered family
After returning home, Dale dug through the research he and his family had done and asked Andriy if he and his researchers could continue looking into the family’s history. What they found was significantly more than Dale expected, with information on Dale’s father’s family dating all the way back to 1840.
Dale shared the research findings with his family members, who were amazed at the amount of details Andriy and his team had found. Learning the stories of their ancestors brought a sense of peace to the family, knowing that their history was not lost after all.
“Andriy and his team turned the impossible into the possible. They sent me an Ancestry Report about my father’s family that had more information in it than I ever could’ve imagined. Andriy also drove for over three hours to the village of Chotkiv, which is about 9km from Uhryn, and discovered my second cousin, Ivan, along with other more distant relatives. He shared stories about my ancestors that I’d never heard before. Words cannot describe the emotions that I felt and still do everyday to know that we’ve found our relatives.”
“I want to leave a mark from my parents and fulfill their legacies by giving back to their ancestral communities and by bringing the family together in this journey. I plan to return to Ukraine with my kids so we can do a heritage tour together and meet my living relatives in person.”