Katrzyna Rusnaczyk celebrated her 100th birthday Sunday at the St. Anthony’s Parish Hall on Winnipeg St.
She is now a part of an elite club.
Canada currently has a population of 36 million, and according to the 2011 census, just under 6,000 citizens were 100 years or older, with the average life expectancy now reaching 82 years.
Out of that number, women are expected to live longer than men and residents of Saskatchewan have the longest life expectancy than anywhere else in Canada.
According to the same census, 0.03 per cent of — or 31 for every 100,000 — Saskatchewan residents live to the age of 100, which is the highest out of all provinces and territories.
Rusnaczyk was born in Poland but has lived in Canada for over 30 years.
She speaks mainly Polish and her granddaughter Halina Buehler acted as a translator.
“She never expected to live to 100,” Buehler translated.
As a young and widowed single mother, Rusnaczyk raised seven children. This may sound like a stressful life to some, but on her 100 birthday, she says the secret to a long and healthy life is to live stress free.
She remembers the German army travelling thorough her small town during the Second World War. Her brothers were in the army, but at the time her village was a part of Slovakia and roughly one kilometre from the Polish border. She remembers the German army marching through her town.
She moved to Canada to help care for her granddaughter.
Her granddaughter was born in Canada. Now with a majority of her family living in Canada, she was very humbled to have almost 20 members of the family come from Poland and Slovakia to visit for Sunday’s celebration.
When asked what her prized possession or moment was, her answer was simple.
“Her kids,” Buehler translated.
Her grandson John Findura also moved to Canada years ago hoping to help and support his aging grandmother and surrounding family.
“The biggest thing is, we do not abandon family, family is number one.”
He says choosing Canada was a big factor in helping his grandmother continue a happy and healthy life.
” Recognizing when you come here, that you learn English, you contribute to your community, to society and work,” Findura said.
“And you’re still able to carry on your customs and traditions,” he added.
After 100 years, Rusnaczyk admits a lot has changed and says she has embraced it.