Heritage House was saddened to hear of the passing of Michael Andruff on December 21, 2023. Mike was the author of The Russian Refugees: A Family’s First Century in Canada, published in October 2022.
Mike was a first-generation Canadian and was in a unique position to observe his refugee father throughout his lifetime, which provided the material for his memoir, The Russian Refugees. The book follows the life of Nikifor Andriev, Mike’s father, when he and his family were driven from his homeland in 1924. The Andriev family was part of a group of 116 privately sponsored Russian refugees who settled in Canada, initially in Homeglen, Alberta.
Nikifor was only three years old when he came to Canada. In the book, Mike explored how becoming Canadian changed his family’s history and prospects dramatically, and he discussed the barriers to entry and bureaucratic quagmires the refugees had to navigate in 1924 (and today). The solitude brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the notion of writing a family history revealed to him the importance of the private sponsorship of refugees in Canada.
Working with MOSAIC BC, Mike established the Homeglen Legacy Fund to sponsor a refugee family by 2024—the centennial of his family’s arrival. He set the goal of raising $30,000 to privately sponsor a refugee family of four prior to June 2024—the hundred-year anniversary of the original group’s arrival in Canada. In addition to fundraising, Andruff made arrangements to have his royalties from the sale of his book donated to the Homeglen Legacy Fund.
Mike was a strong advocate for the private sponsorship of refugees and spoke passionately about the deep impact Canadian life could have on an immigrant family. We are honoured to have worked with him to publish his memoir and will miss his energy and enthusiasm.