Opening Statement



Thursday, 12 January 2012

Steve Hnatiuk JCM Teacher + Coach


Steve Hnatiuk: James Cardinal McGuigan Business teacher and coach-






Steve Hnatiuk with some of his many JCM colleagues and friends. Steve is in the centre.


I can't say I knew Steve very well but I passed him constantly in the hallways at our school and we always said hello. He was invariably very polite and friendly with a smile on his face. He always called me "Sir". He certainly didn't need to but that was Steve. If this all sounds rather mundane please bear with me. What struck me most about Steve's demeanour was that he was always impeccably polite and respectful, to everyone, be they a colleague, visitor or our students.


Steve always dressed like a teacher from back in the day, with business like slacks and shirt. His hair was always army cut short. I remember he was once asked why in the staffroom. He said he did so because he thought that is the way he should dress as a Business teacher. I know when I started out in the 1980's we all pretty much had to dress like that. School is often a lot more informal now. Still Steve had his standards and he stuck to them, which is something I really respect.


He was very popular as the student's coach, and I understand a very fine young Business teacher too. Quite frankly, I've been at McGuigan twenty years now, and am slowly turning my mind to consider retirement. I've felt a whole lot better about the prospect over the past few years Steve has been at JCM because we now have so many keen, excellent young teachers like him entering our teaching profession. Their numbers at my school alone have soared. I believe it is very invigorating and continues the renewal process of our profession for the years ahead.


Teaching is very much a commitment to service, even a vocation for many of us. One of my portfolios as your TSU 3rd VP is executive liaison for our Beginning Teachers Committee. I consider this a great honour because new teachers are the future of our teaching profession, and the prospects at McGuigan and across our board, as with Steve, are so exceptionally promising.


It is not for me to go on at great length about Steve. Our younger teachers knew him a lot better. They will have all the really great stories to share. Still I know Steve was an integral part of his generation of new teachers at my school. His passing must be especially heartfelt by them. Most of us fondly recall the new teachers we started out with. Usually we continue to work with them in various capacities at the TCDSB for the rest of our careers.


I recall coming to JCM 20 years ago from SJMP. I was only a few years older than Steve. I was so excited that my career was taking off. Like many of my peers I was busy buying a home and starting a family of my own. There have been many trials and triumphs since then. God willing I can now consider a good pension in my middle age to do as I please, still enjoying my relative wealth, health, family and friends. Steve will not have these opportunities. This is what makes his death especially hard for me to take.


These are very difficult days at McGuigan. Our staff and admin has been especially good at keeping everyone advised on Steve's rapidly deteriorating cancer condition, and in planning how we would announce and deal with his passing as a Catholic school community. You might imagine how it feels to happily return to school feeling recharged from the Christmas holidays only to be greeted with this news right away.


As a Catholic school community we prayed together that Steve might pull through against all odds, on our first day back. Next day we were told by those who knew him best that he put up a valiant fight right to the very end. Steve had lived and died by his own advice to our students, "Always try your best". Steve was not about to give up the good fight, and if he could've had his druthers, he never would have either. He had hoped to fight and beat his cancer right up to the very end, but it was not to be.


Our faith teaches us that Steve is with his creator now. This is actually a very good reason to rejoice for Steve as awkward as that might seem. Of course it is very difficult for the rest of us, whose hour has not yet come, to gladly suffer his passing in our own lives be we family, colleagues, students or good friends. It's a pretty grim reminder of our own mortality, and a sad fact. He was a good man with such promise who was cut down in his prime through no fault of his own. However the only pain that exists now is in our hearts and soul as we remain to carry on with our own lives, and teaching vocations.


Grief counselling is being provided at JCM by staff and the various resource people from our board. We seek solstice in prayer for Steve, and for all of us who so deeply feel his loss. We've learnt the family has asked their privacy be respected for now, but we look forward to being able to celebrate Steve's life and death in the presence of Christ at his funeral on Saturday, or even at his visitation today and tomorrow. Many of our TSU members who can't attend will hopefully still be there with Steve and us in your prayers. Here's to you Steve! God bless!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Steve. The Jean Vanier community misses you and I give you a heartfelt thank you to all that you were to us here, at JCM and to who you continue to be!

God Bless you!

Jeff Stevenson

Anonymous said...

Steve I was your Teacher Candidate at JCM 2 years ago for your Accounting and BTA. Though I never told you this.. you inspired me during the darkest moment of my life.

You may not have been the "smartest" guy nor the best "class room manager" but what you were good at was much deeper and more important than any of that.

You were able to reach your students at a much more personal . It didn't matter if they were involved in sports, music, art etc. you were able to relate to each and everyone of them.

You have inspired an entire crop of JCM students to make better decisions for themselves and choose a better path in life.

RIP Steve.. God Bless..

Chris Chong

josh said...

R.I.P MR. Hnatiuk you were a great teacher y gone but there will always be a place in ours hearts for you we the students of JCM will miss you dearly god bless your soul and your family

JOSH

Pedro said...

Steve was in a single word - phenomenal. He leaves a hole in all of our hearts. It's all very senseless. It's confusion. It makes me angry. Yet, he would not want to see anyone angry. I learned so much from you and you didn't even know you were teaching me. Your humility and simplicity are examples to us all. God bless you. I love you. I miss you. You are the best. Our time was short, but your impact will be long lived. I promise you I will make sense of it all and keep your memory alive to the best of my ability. Thank you for allowing me and humbling me by being my friend. I will never ever forget how you made me feel. Walk on right into the peace train right into heaven.

Anonymous said...

mr. knatiuk was a great teacher and a good role model he will never be forgten in a life time. he was also a good friend to our dear ms. nobrega

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