A couple of years ago as a fresh-off-the-boat Ukrainian immigrant to Canada, I tried to stay within my community because it felt safe to belong to something familiar. Thus, I always looked for any sign that would point me to Ukrainianism. I’m not sure if it was because I looked for it, but I always managed to find Ukrainians around. However, I truly realized that Ukrainians have spread into all corners of the world when I was on an assignment from university.
I had to walk through a nearby area and, following my curious mind, I had to find something about which I was going to write. After spending hours chasing a couple of hopeless leads near Carleton University, I saw a sign – a few of signs actually. They all said “David Chernushenko”. At first they looked like a real estate agent signs, and I was slightly disappointed because I was not particularly interested in the field of real estate. What interested me instead was the last name Chernushenko. The link to a website on the poster led me to an investigation about this person. To my surprise, I found out that David Chernushenko was not a real estate agent, but a councillor for Capital Ward 17; he was also dedicated to improving the community and to living a “green life”. I wondered if his last name was Ukrainian, and since I was also interested in going green, I continued my investigation.
Through Twitter, online articles, and other people’s reviews about his green campaign, I found out that Chernushenko has dedicated a great portion of his life to projects like improving access to the O-Train, creating better road conditions for cyclists, and bettering the recreational parks around Ottawa. These projects were definitely important to Ottawians; through personal experience I found that the O-Train and the bus system needed major improvements in terms of timing, and places like the intersection of Fifth Ave and Clegg St. needed a pedestrian/cycling bridge.
I had a very special honour to talk to Chernushenko himself, when he made an appearance at the Wild Oat Bakery in the Glebe area. His bike was park near the entrance – another sign that living green life was just a part of who Chernushenko was. Indeed, after a short conversation, he confessed that he “is who he is not for his neighbours, but for [himself]”. He sees that living a green life was beneficial and satisfying for him. And being the curious person that I was, I asked him about his last name. It was Ukrainian.