If you?ve visited the library in Tumbler Ridge, you will know who Krystyna Bielecka is. She is the helpful lady with the Polish accent, who would do anything for you. Bielecka has spent nearly 20 years in this community, raising a family with her husband Zbigniew, or Ziggy, as he was better known. It is Polish practice when the surname ends in a vowel, that the female names end with an a and the male with an i. Confused? Krystyna and her daughter go by Bielecka. Zbigniew and his sons Lucasz and Artur go by Bielecki.
Zbigniew and Krystyna, pregnant with her first son in 1986, came from Poland to Prince George as political refugees. In her home country, Krystyna was elected president of a union of fifteen hundred members, in a time when ?solidarity? was coming into place. After reprimand and a three-month stay in prison as a political prisoner, Krystyna lost her job and she and her husband felt there was no hope for change in their native land. Canada welcomed them with little red tape and open arms. Their son Lucasz was born in Poland and was three months old when they arrived in Canada.
They spent 13 months in Prince George, which was where they were sent after requesting to be in the English-speaking part of their new country. Krystyna is versed in German, Russian, Polish and now English. Pleased with Tumbler Ridge when friends invited them to see it, they decided to move here. They had taken a six-month course in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Krystyna was grateful when they relocated to Tumbler Ridge, that she had time to study and improve her skills, as she had young children and her husband worked shift work. By then she had two sons, adding Artur to the mix. Their daughter Karolina is the youngest of the family.
Among the things the children got involved with, Tae Kwon Do seemed a favorite, as all three kids joined up at the ages of six or seven. Both Lucasz and Karolina eventually became instructors. Lucasz is presently attending Thompson River University, studying for his Bachelor of Science. Artur hopes to follow in his footsteps, after upgrading his education and working six months. As far as Tae Kwon Do, there were times when Karolina and a handful of people, including her mother, were the sole structure for the club, which suffered lower numbers as Tumbler Ridge?s population varied.
Krystyna?s desire to build a career in Tumbler Ridge was unfortunately difficult. She had hoped to work with Northern Lights College as a tutor or substitute teacher, following her time as a student. She eventually became a children?s librarian after eight months in a temporary position at the Tumbler Ridge Public Library.
Fellow librarian Sharon Bray has fond memories of Krystyna and her young family before she even worked at the library. They grew to be colleagues and good friends, often in sync with one another as they worked side by side. ?I will miss her terribly, ?says Bray with great sincerity, ?She is an unbelievable worker and she will be greatly missed.? She chuckles as she reveals that when it came to collecting overdue charges, Bielecka was known as ?Conan the Librarian?. Perhaps her leadership days were not so far behind.
The Bieleckis and Bieleckas began their journey coming to a new country. They saw the good times and hard times of Tumbler Ridge while they were here and now they are moving on to a new life once more, in Mission, BC. Krystyna leaves some departing words as she heads off into this new chapter, library pun intended. ?I will miss the people and those who came through the library. I hope they continue to get the kind of service and treatment that I was proud to give them.? Good luck to the family in their new location.