Rauni Ollikainen spent her early childhood in Finland and immigrated to Canada with her family at age eight. She grew up on Vancouver Island and then moved to California where she attended college. She went back to Finland for a short stay to get in touch with her roots and then moved to London, UK where she worked and lived for a few years before returning to Canada.

Her self-published memoir Finnish Beginnings (Sisu-Publishing. 2012 $21.95) describes her childhood in Finland in a working class family that coped through four wars. It is also about Finnish history and culture, told through the eyes of the author as a child, describing how the family was impacted by contemporary political and historical events. The father fought in three wars, and the author and her sister became part of one of the largest child evacuations in Europe. The last four chapters develop into an immigration story in which the family leaves Finland for Vancouver, B.C., Canada in 1951, only to end up languishing in the dismal Immigration Building, described by Canadian author Pierre Berton as "the home of hope and heartbreak";. In the case of the author and her family, hope triumphs over heartbreak as they build a new life in Canada.

Rauni Ollikainen has lived in Victoria since 1983; she graduated from University of Victoria, worked for the Provincial Government, and was involved in live theatre for fifteen years. She has written book reviews for the ALS Society Victoria Chapter newsletter and has had stories published in Victoria's Monday Magazine. A short story about her life in London appears in Fireside Dreams, published by the Poetry Institute of Canada.


Finnish Beginnings (Sisu-Publishing 2012 $21.95 / $24.95 bookstores) 978-1-77136-059-3

[BCBW 2013] "Finnish"