Opinion

One of the good guys—gone

A couple of weeks ago, a tragic accident occurred in Ootischenia. A friend of mine, Karilio Alimkulov, was up on a ladder doing some repair work when he fell and hit his head on cement. Unfortunately, he was working alone and was not discovered until too late.

Recently, he and I only visited occasionally—while we were shopping or when we were dining out at the same time.  In the past, though, we spent a lot of time together.  His deep interest in literature and his desire to raise things to a higher level made us kindred spirits.

He was a scholar of the highest calibre.  He studied at two major universities, completing his Ph.D work at Moscow State University in 1976.  He wrote his Ph.D dissertation on the Kyrgyzian and Russian novelist Chingiz Aitmatov, author of The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years.

While Karilio was studying at Moscow State University, he met Lucy Kazakoff, fell in love and married her.  They moved to Castlegar where Lucy had grown up, and there they raised two children, Armand and Elena, who now work in highly professional jobs in Vancouver.

Upon arrival in Castlegar, Karilio taught Russian language courses for Selkirk College in the Outreach program at Grand Forks and Castlegar.  Later, for a brief period, he taught first year Russian language courses at Selkirk College.

At the same time, he was hired by the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ to put together curriculum materials for the Russian-After-School program, which  pre-dated School District #9’s Russian Biliingual program.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Karilio committed himself to developing materials for School District # 9’s Russian bilingual program. He was hired to do translations and to create booklets for children and teaching materials for the primary grades.  He taught workshops in the Russian language for local area Russian language teachers and was also a substitute teacher in Russian bilingual classrooms.

Indeed, almost everything in the Russian component of the bilingual program had his hand in it.  Some of this curriculum development he did under contract, but some of it was voluntary.

He had a warm and gentle approach with students, but he was also highly disciplined in what he expected.  There was a right way to do things and a precise way to speak and write the Russian language—and he expected students to reach that level and not to accept anything less.

In the 1990s, Karilio was hired by Cominco in Trail to translate technical materials related to a new processing system Cominco was looking at from Russia.  Karilio’s son Armand told me Karilio viewed this job as one of the most difficult he’d ever worked at because of the chemical and engineering words.

I probably knew Karilio best when Marge Malloff and I co-ordinated Selkirk College’s Western Canada tour of Russian writers—Vaschenko, Fokina, Issaev, Petelin, and Belov.  Though we toured these writers to Alberta and B.C. universities, the major conference took place at the Brilliant Cultural Centre.

Karilio produced and directed a drama for the conference entertainment program. As well, he spent days preparing translations of the writings of the Russian writers Selkirk was bringing to Canada. These pieces were sent ahead by the writers, and only Karilio was familiar enough with the creative aspect of language to do the translation.

In many ways, Karilio was a genius in regard to Russian literature and the Russian language.  This community, the Russian bilingual program, and the School District had the services of this outstanding educator for many years before he moved on to fine woodworking and photography.

Had he not married the love of his life and followed her to the Kootenays, we would not have had his immense contribution to education in Castlegar and area.

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