THE Canadian Museum for Human Rights is about to shed new light on the genocide that wiped out millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s.
The museum has organized visits to Canada this month by two world-renowned Ukrainian researchers who have been analyzing hundreds of thousands of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's secret police files that add proof of the deliberate nature of the atrocities that occurred between 1932-33. The documents only came to light in 2006.
Stanislav Kulchytsky, deputy director of the Institute of Ukrainian History at the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and Lesya Onyshko, first deputy of the general director of Ukraine's National Memorial in Commemoration of Famines' Victims in Ukraine, will give a series of lectures in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Toronto between Nov. 20 and 23.
Their visit coincides with Holodomor Awareness Week, Nov. 19 to 25. The Holodomor (literal translation: death by hunger) was a man-made famine and an attempt to crush Ukrainian resistance as the Soviet Union moved to collectivize agriculture. Millions of Ukrainians starved to death -- a fact denied by Soviet authorities as recently as the 1980s.
The secret state archives that Kulchytsky, Onyshko and other scholars in Ukraine have been sorting and analyzing, only came to light in 2006, says CMHR researcher/curator Clint Curle.
"The Holodomor provides a powerful lesson on the need to continue to be vigilant against abuse of state power," Curle says. "It was really a situation where the state turned on its own citizens, and unfortunately this is a recurring pattern in genocides, which continue today.
"It also illustrates the importance of food as a basic human right and essential to human dignity."
What is particularly important about the Holodomor from the museum's perspective, Curle says, is the shroud of secrecy and denial that has covered these crimes against humanity for decades.
"People have a right to the truth and certainly the Ukrainian-Canadian community -- and internationally the Ukrainian diaspora -- has been struggling for that truth for many years," he says. "And for us, that's a central human-rights concern."
Memorials to the genocide have been erected across Canada since 1983, when the first public monument was unveiled in Edmonton. In 2008, Canada officially recognized the Holodomor as genocide and designated the fourth Saturday in November as Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day.
Holodomor events in Winnipeg
THE following public events will take place in Winnipeg next week:
Tuesday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m. -- St. John's College, Quiet Room, University of Manitoba: The Holodomor (Great Famine) in Ukraine, 1932-33: Issues in research and commemoration
Thursday, Nov. 22, 7 p.m. -- Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok), 184 Alexander Ave. East, New research on the Holodomor
Friday, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. -- Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg: Interpreting the Holodomor
Saturday, Nov. 24, 1:30 p.m. -- Winnipeg City Hall, 610 Main St.: Holodomor memorial ceremony