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Zelenskyy gifted rare comic by Ukrainian-Manitoban artist during visit to Canada

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived in Canada for his first visit since the Russian war broke out, he was gifted some items with a distinctly Winnipeg connection.

Chrystia Freeland's office confirmed to CTV News Winnipeg the deputy prime minister gifted Zelenskyy a first-edition comic book by Ukrainian author Jacob Maydanyk.

Madanyk, who lived in Winnipeg, donated his collection to Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre.

According to a spokesperson, Freeland’s team reached out to the organization to procure the first-edition comic.

Additionally, Oseredok included a blend of coffee made by Maydanyk's great-nephew Robert Young. He now owns and operates Writers and Rockers Coffee Company in Winnipeg.

The blend, named Uncle Steve after Maydanyk’s most popular character, is sold in Oseredok’s gift shop.

“Next thing I know, I get a call from Chrystia Freeland’s office saying, ‘we’re giving a bag of your coffee to President Zelenskyy when he comes to visit us on Friday. Would you mind writing a letter to him?’” he said.

“It was like ‘holy crap.’”

A blend of coffee made by Robert Young's business Writers and Rockers Coffee Company was gifted to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on his recent visit to Canada.

In his letter, Young touched on the importance of preserving family and heritage in times of conflict.

“I closed it off with ‘If alive today, I know Jacob would have loved to have shared a cup of coffee with you.”

Born in Syvdovi, Ukraine, Maydanyk immigrated to rural Manitoba in 1911. He moved to Winnipeg in 1920, where he went on to publish one of the first-ever comics in Canada.

According to Oseredok, Maydanyk’s most popular character was Vykjo Shteef Tabachniuk, which translated to Uncle Steve Tobacco. He was a satirical figure who first appeared in the 1920s in the Canadian Farmer and other newspapers.

A copy of one of Jacob Maydanyk's comic strips is shown in an undated image.

Maydanyk’s signature style blending humour and satire was popular with Ukrainian prairie immigrants. His first comic book published in 1930 sold thousands of copies. It was reprinted in 1974.

“His comics were funny. They were about Ukrainian defiance against Russia and some of the regimes there, and so it was fitting that this goes to President Zelenskyy,” Young said. Top Stories

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