I am teaching Russian politics this semester, which necessarily involves acquainting my students with the highlights of Russian history. Indeed I have long had a fascination for Russian history, ever since taking an undergraduate course in the subject nearly three decades ago.
Last year, during my genealogical researches, I discovered that among my direct ancestors is included Prince Vladimir I (also known as St. Vladimir, or, in Ukrainian, Volodymyr) of Kiev, who converted the people of Rus to Orthodox Christianity in 988.
He is variously my 30th through 37th great-grandfather, and I am descended from him in scores of ways, through two of my ancestors, David and Nancy Elkins Wells, my maternal 3rd great-grandparents. Of course, as I've written before, virtually anyone of European ancestry who might be reading this is similarly descended from him.
I have long admired the Russians. Is this descent enough to make of me a Russian? Can I truthfully call myself a Russian-Canadian? Perhaps, but then again so can virtually any reader of this blog. Furthermore, I might just as well call myself a Phoenician-Canadian, because Phoenicians settled my ancestral island of Cyprus close to three millennia ago. The farther back one is able to trace one's ancestry, the less statistically significant it is to claim to be descended from any one person living then. Scores of millions of others are similarly descended.