Ellen Burka was a typical young girl in prewar Amsterdam. After the Nazis occupied the city, she and her family were deported to Westerbork and Theresienstadt, where she met her future husband. After the war, she walked back to Holland to restart her life.
After coming to Toronto, Ellen made a career of figure skating, but hid her wartime experiences and background from her two daughters until they were teenagers. She coached her daughter Petra to a World Figure Skating Championship and revolutionized the sport through the artistry of another student, Toller Cranston.