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Elizabeth Holinaty was born on a farm three miles from Wakaw, Saskatchewan to parents who were born in Canada. Her grandparents immigrated from western Ukraine. Her maternal ancestors came from Horodenka. Her grandfather Gabriel Holinaty came from Zalishchyky and worked as a tanner (kushnir) for the landlord. He made a kozhukh for a lady in Wakaw. Her mother Mary Kotelko Holinaty embroidered a great deal, and also sewed, crocheted and knitted. She was a collector and organizer.
Elizabeth went to Zalishchyky school near Wakaw. She remembers not knowing to speak English when she started school, crying for several days. Elizabeth studied Home Economics and Education at the University of Saskatchewan. She was a grade 1-4 teacher for several decades, moving from Saskatchewan to Alberta in the 1970s. She has a post-graduate diploma from 1970-71, specializing in reading diagnosis and reading remedial work, but she missed classroom contact, and returned to regular teaching. Before and after she retired in 1991, she tried painting, drawing, pottery, pysanky. She loves to sing and also to bake breads, but found her true calling and inspiration in weaving. In the 1980s and later, she attended many bread making classes, embroidery classes, weaving classes, pysanky workshops, etc. She participated in the Ukrainian fashion activities in the Edmonton area.
Elizabeth’s first weaving lessons were from the Cyril Flour Mill Company, near Wakaw. She bought her first 1950s loom from the Burkhailo family near Wakaw in the 1980s. Elizabeth didn’t attend the first 2-3 weaving workshops in Banff, but went to nearly all of them thereafter. Chester and Luba Kuc asked her to make Hutsul fabric, requesting she reproduce it as accurately as possible. Elizabeth prefered natural fibres then, and still does. Calmar Zirka dancers ordered some costume pieces thereafter, and her work weaving Ukrainian dance costumes snowballed after that. She did this work on weekends as a teacher at first, and continued after she retired. Elizabeth has woven many Ukrainian dance costumes for groups in Saskatchewan, and other places. Many different organizations commission weavings, sometimes based on very traditional models, sometimes adapted and contemporized. She has also reproduced historical sashes for the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, etc.
Elizabeth has attended many textile and weaving conferences across North America. Her first weaving conference and first exhibition was at “Convergence 86” in Toronto. The Ukrainian community participated in the conference, and asked her for 5 pieces for display.
Elizabeth, Kay Chernyavsky and Pauline Lysak organized a number of projects to provide interesting towels and cloths with Ukrainian themes.
Elizabeth embroiders small towels for pallbearers in the Wakaw area, now mostly for family. Sometimes she embroiders seven, because the cross bearer also receives one. She also embroiders or weaves wedding rushnyky.
Elizabeth has donated numerous family records to the Ukrainian Catholic Museum in Saskatoon (including her father’s careful accounting books and planting records, mother’s records), and some materials to the Bohdan Medwidsky Ukrainian Folklore Archives.
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The biographical note is based on Andriy Nahachewsky's notes during the 2nd donation visit, 20 Nov 2015.