Skrypnyk, Mary

Skrypnyk, Mary [Скрипник, Марія], b 11 December 1915 near Timmins, Ontario, d 27 June 2012 in Toronto. Editor, translator, and community activist. She was born to a family of recent immigrants from Western Ukraine. Her father was a miner who was active in the Miners’ Union and joined the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) in 1922 before the family moved to a farm in the Niagara Peninsula in 1923. Both of her parents were members of the Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) and Skrypnyk became involved in the ULFTA and joined the Youth Communist League at the age of thirteen. At fifteen, she began to work in a factory in Hamilton and joined the CPC in 1932. Interested in flying, she was the first woman in Hamilton to obtain a pilot’s license. She also learned to parachute jump. She attended ULFTA Higher Courses in Winnipeg in 1938 and was active there full-time at the national level in the ULFTA. She volunteered to serve in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. During the Second World War, she worked as a laborer until 1943 when she became employed as a linotypist for the Toronto-based printer of Ukraïns’ke zhyttia (Winnipeg). She was a member of the National Initiative Committee of the Federation of Democratic Youth in May 1945, representing the Ukrainian Canadian Youth Clubs. In 1946 Skrypnyk became a member of the National Executive Committee of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians (AUUC). Between 1947 and 1949 she traveled across Canada organizing youth and English-speaking branches of the AUUC. From 1950 she was associate editor and from 1953, editor of The Ukrainian Canadian. In 1950 she was elected to the National Executive of the Congress of Canadian Women (CCW). She attended various international peace conferences such as the 3rd World Festival of Youth and Students for Peace in East Berlin in August 1951 and World Appeal for a Pact of Peace in the Soviet Union in September–October 1951. In 1954, she was accepted into a two year course in journalism and political studies in the Higher Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine. She returned to Canada in 1956.

From that time on Skrypnyk translated works of Ukrainian literature into English on contract for Dnipro Publishers in Kyiv. She is best known for her translations of works by Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, Lesia Ukrainka, Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko, and Olha Kobylianska. She also translated several Ukrainian Canadian historical publications by Peter Krawchuk. She was awarded the Shevchenko Medal in Ukrainian SSR in 1961 for her translations of Shevchenko’s works into English. She also received the Maxim Gorky Prize from the Writers Union of the USSR in 1976 and the Ivan Franko Prize in 1986. She was on the board of directors of Ukrainska Knyha and Taras Investments affiliated with AUUC. Skrypnyk let her membership in the Communist Party of Canada lapse after the 1991 Ukraine’s Declaration of Independence. She was accepted into the Writers' Union of Ukraine in 1994.

Myron Momryk

[This article was updated in 2022.]

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