Halyna Chomiak Freeland

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Halyna Chomiak Freeland (1946-2007) On Friday, July 6 Halyna Chomiak Freeland died at the age of 60 after a long battle with cancer. She died in New York City, surrounded by her family. Born on September 2, 1946 in Bad Worishofen, Germany in a displaced person's camp, Halyna Mykhailvna Chomiak was the third child of Alexandra and Mykhailo Chomiak. In October 1948 the family immigrated to Canada where they lived with Mykhailo Chomiak's sister, Katerina Shulhan and her family in Cherhill, Alberta for a few years before settling in Edmonton (Jasper Place). The family was active in Edmonton's vibrant post-World War II Ukrainian community: Mykhailo Chomiak played an instrumental role in establishing some of its key institutions. Alexandra Chomiak was a writer of Ukrainian children's literature. Halyna Chomiak Freeland was a small woman with enormous passion and energy who lived her life to the fullest. She was a lawyer, activist, teacher, community organizer, bookstore founder, cooperative housing pioneer, politician, student, and international legal reformer; she was a single mother, an art collector, a gourmet cook and a voracious reader. Throughout her career and community activities she was guided by a profound sense of social justice, an unwavering commitment to feminism and a passion for the development of Ukrainian culture and society. Halyna was gifted with a brilliant intellect, and had an enduring desire and a relentless capacity to change the world around her for the better. She was a leader in the Ukrainian, feminist and leftist communities in Edmonton. Halyna graduated from Jasper Place High School with honours in 1964 and proceeded to the University of Alberta where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and philosophy. She was one of only seven women in her graduating class at the University of Alberta Law School in 1970 - and the only one who brought her infant daughter with her to class. She was called to the bar in 1971 and practiced criminal and family law, first in Peace River and later in Edmonton. During her legal career in Alberta, Halyna was proudest of the instrumental role she played in the passing of the Matrimonial Property Act for the Province of Alberta. She was very active on a number of legal boards and societies: Peace River Legal Aid Society, Legal Aid Society of Alberta (Northern Director, 1978-79), Alberta Law Foundation, Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, and Women's Legal Education Action Fund. She was a partner in the law firms of Freeland and Co. in Peace River and of Freeland, Robb, Royal, McCrum and Browne in Edmonton. In the 1988 federal election she was the New Democratic Party's candidate for Edmonton Strathcona. She made history by involving the largest number of volunteers ever in a federal election campaign. From 1990-92 she pursued a Master of Arts degree in Slavic and East European Studies at the University of Alberta. In the fall of 1992, she moved to Ukraine where she was a key initiator of the Ukrainian Legal Foundation, a non-governmental non-profit organization established to help create the rule of law in democratic Ukraine. While she served as its Executive Officer, the ULF established a legal library, legal printing press, several international legal exchange programs and a law school. From 1992-2002, Halyna participated in drafting the Constitution of Ukraine and its Civil and Criminal Procedure Codes. An ardent feminist, Halyna was a founder of Common Woman Books Collective and Bookstore. From 1981 to 1987 she taught courses on Feminist Theory and Women and the Law at the University of Alberta Faculty of Extension, and published essays and handbooks on Matrimonial Property, Domestic Violence, and Family Law. She was a founding member of the Ukrainian-Canadian feminist organization, the Second Wreath Society. She was devoted to Ukrainian-Canadian cultural life. She founded the Peace River Ukrainian Society and taught Ukrainian language classes in Peace River. She was a founding member of the Hromada Housing Cooperative and served on the Ukrainian Community Development Committee. She was a champion of bilingual education and raised her two daughters in a Ukrainian-speaking household. Halyna loved art and started collecting Canadian painting in the 1970's. Since 1992, she assembled an outstanding collection of twentieth-century Ukrainian painting and ceramics, representing major artists from the Kievan, Odessan and Zakarpatian schools. She was a gourmet cook and a consummate hostess who frequently entertained friends and family with lavish meals and great conversation. She was extremely close to her daughters and was immensely proud of their achievements and their fine moral compass. She also had a profound influence on her nieces, nephews and granddaughters, who loved and admired her. Prayer Services for our beloved mother, sister, grandmother and aunt will take place on Friday, July 13 at 7 p.m. and the Funeral Rites on Saturday, July 14 at 10 a.m.; both will be held at St. John's Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 10951-107 Street, Edmonton, Alberta. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes can be made to the Halyna Chomiak Freeland Memorial Prize (to be administered through the University of Alberta Law School), care of Chrystia Freeland, 103 5th Avenue, Apt. 8, NY, NY 10003. She will be greatly missed by her daughters Chrystia (Graham Bowley) Freeland and Natalka (Robert McPeek) Freeland; granddaughters Natalka and Halyna Bowley; sisters Oksana Ensslen, Marusia (Bruce) Hopchin, Chrystia (John-Paul Himka) Chomiak, Natalka (Myrsolav Shkandrij) Chomiak and brother Bohdan (Tanya) Chomiak; aunt Olena Loban; and nieces and nephews Katherine, Steven (Darusia), Sonja (Tobin) Craig, Andrew, and Karen Ensslen; Christopher (Tracie Scott) Hopchin; Mykhailo and Eva Himka; Alexandra and Halyna Shkandrij; and Katherine and Adrian Lahola. Her parents Alexandra and Mykhailo Chomiak predeceased her. To send condolences, visit www.parkmemorial.com Park Memorial Edmonton 426-0050 Family Owned Funeral Home, Crematorium, Reception Centre
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Published in The Edmonton Journal from July 12 to July 13, 2007
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