The Westward Journey of a Karelian Family after WW II

Post-war Finland was under a huge burden of repaying the Soviet Union the immoral indemnity imposed by the Allies. As if the loss of 10% of Finland was not enough. Trying to rebuild lives, and paying Russia - meant hungry children and a long period of suffering before things would get much better. We have asked ourselves many times why Stalin's allies, America and Britain, allowed this to happen to the Karelian people. What had we done wrong? Why was Churchill and Roosevelt angry at us, we were only defending ourselves? Why didn't they threaten Russia when they attacked this neutral and free country in 1939? Hitler and Stalin were both at war with all of Europe. Choosing sides was not a matter of being fascist, it was a necessity to avoid being overrun by Stalin. The British said they were coming, but the war was short and they never made it. Finland had to make peace on Stalin's terms: give up Karelia. That didn't seem to bother these two allies, at least not enough to declare war on Russia. Oh well, tough luck for those Finns. The British even turned their backs on Poland which was relying on them, and they promised to help. Uncle Stalin could do as he wished in the last months of the war. It's no use, nobody will listen anyway, nor do they care. Their boys are back home, that's all that matters. But we could not go back home, and that didn't seem to matter to them. Britain is whole, France is whole, but many countries are left in pieces.

Antti was working at Valmet to produce the items for Russia that were agreed upon. One day a friend said to him "I'm going over to get an application for immigrating to Canada." Antti asked for an application for himself, filled it in and soon he was on his way to Canada. The family had to stay behind - in Sweden where Kari spent three years as a war child.

The photo: Eeva, Kari Joronen, SC. (Canada's highest civilian awards, the Star of Courage posth. for conspicuous bravery under conditions of great peril), Osmo, (writer) and Meeri (mother) in Svinhult Sweden waiting six months for Antti to send tickets. Then one morning my mother said "we're going to Canada." To me it sounded like "kanala" which means chicken house. First we had to travel from Svinhult, our village in Sweden to Norway. Then we would have to enter the Winter Atlantic. We caught the Norwegian liner Oslo Fjord in Oslo. Yes, it was very rough. We kids were wild, and got lost whenever it was practical. This, fantastic...castle, it was wonderful to us! Those lounges, Coca Cola, swizzle sticks, dunking for apples, it was too much. We landed in Halifax. When we got there, mom bought a loaf of bread on our way to the train, but she was upset that we didn't have a knife to cut it. I said "mom, maybe it's already sliced." And it was. When we arrived at our new home, we discovered that Antti had bought a house with a sauna in a Finnish community on Long Lake near Sudbury. Lucky for me, because I loved to fish, make bark boats, swim, hike, was great. But our home would be 4000 miles to the west, in British Columbia. My kids can't image how far I had to walk to school.

Eeva, Kari Joronen SC, (posth.) Kanadan suurin sivili kunnia "Star of Courage" Urhollisuuden Risti Osmo, (kirjoittaja) (karjalainen pikkupoika muutama vuotta ennen kun tiesin mitään tietokoneista) ja äitimme Meeri. Kun Antti lähti Kanadaan, joiduimme odottamaan Ruotissa puoli vuotta matkalippuja jossakin kirkonkylässä. Lähdimme Norjasta Oslo Fjordi nimisessä laivassa Kanadaan, joka minusta kuulusti "kanala." Kaikki oli ihmeelistä villeille karjalaislapsille, ja eksyimme niin paljon kun kerettiin. Saavuimme Halifaxiin. ´Äiti osti leivän mutta ei ollut puukkoa millä leikata sitä. Minä vaan sanoin että "katsopa, se voi olla valmiiksi leikattu." Ja niin se oli. Kun pääsimme perille Sudburiin, niin purin purkkaa ja söin vihanneksia ensimmäisen kerran elämässä. (Ja tietenki piti poika ammuuta)