Premier Ed Stelmach`s voice cracked this afternoon as he spoke to an Act introduced and passed unanimously today that makes every fourth Saturday in November an official memorial day for the Ukrainian famine and genocide, or Holodomor, in Alberta, Edmonton Journal reported.
"I do this with a great range of personal emotion," Stelmach, whose grandparents immigrated to Alberta from Ukraine a century ago.
In a speech heavily peppered with Ukrainian phrases and words, Stelmach called the famine forced upon Ukrainians in the early 20th century "one of the most heinous atrocities of modern history." He outlined how millions of people from his ancestral home were starved to death by Soviet policies that saw grains stripped from Europe`s traditional "bread basket."
"My grandfather and grandmother were amongst those early pioneers who came to Alberta in the late 1890s," Stelmach said. "Marie and I still maintain the original farm that they settled on, till the same soil that they did and ... "
The premier took a long pause before continuing, "And we also give thanks for the abundant crops that soil yielded."
Sadly, he said, the dark black soil of Ukraine his own ancestors treasured could not offer the same happy yields through the early 1930s.
The Act was introduced by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gene Zwozdesky -- who is also of Ukrainian descent.