Ontario could become second Canadian province to declare a Holodomor Memorial Day
Ontario could one day join Alberta as the second Canadian province to declare a Holodomor Memorial Day, marking a fabricated famine that caused as many as 10 million Ukrainians to die under Josef Stalin`s regime, according to The Expositor.
That is the intent of a private member`s bill introduced by Brant MPP Dave Levac into the Ontario legislature.
If passed, Levac`s bill would mark each fourth Saturday of November as Holodomor Memorial Day, to allow people to reflect on and educate the public about a crime against humanity that occurred in 1932-1933.
"It`s an important piece of history that is not well known but must be told to the whole world," Levac said in an interview on his cellphone before giving a speech at Toronto City Hall last week in front of Ukrainian dignitaries and others marking the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor.
His bill passed first reading in the legislature last week.
In the legislature was Zena Semywolos, a Brantford resident who survived the famine. She was a 10-year-old girl living just outside Kiev with her mother and two sisters.
While people were starving to death around them, that family lived because Zema`s mother was a teacher. At the time, teachers were given a flour ration, enough to make bread.
Some neighbours lived because the family shared that ration.
Grain was seized by Soviet authorities during that period.
Anyone caught taking grain was shot on sight. Children were taken away and never heard from again.
"It gets you quite upset to think that a child who might hold a handful of grain so small it wouldn`t fill a shot glass would be treated that way," said Levac.
The League of Ukrainian Canadians released a statement thanking Levac for his bill.
"American historian James Mace once said that the Ukrainian famine was the crime of the century nobody`s ever heard of,` the statement says.
"Brant MPP Dave Levac`s bill on recognizing the famine will not only condemn this evil act for what it really was, but will also help to education future generations to condemn all acts of tyranny and proactively prevent them from ever happening again."
"The Ukrainian people have been waiting for this for a long time and finally it is coming to fruition," said league spokesman Vlad Paslavskyi.
"The community sees this as only another step before all the other provinces catch up with Ontario and Alberta. What happened in Ukraine is a tragedy of genocide that everyone needs to learn about because so little is known."
The word "holodomor" comes from the Ukrainian words "holod" meaning hunger and "mor," meaning "plague." Together they are taken to mean "to inflict death by hunger."
The Holodomor" is the name given exclusively to the famine created when the Soviet regime forcibly removed all grain products from the Ukraine - then a European breadbasket - to sell for cash.
Some scholars hold that it was purposely engineered by Stalin to attack Ukrainian nationalism, while others characterize it as an unintended consequence of economic policies promoting industrialization.