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This article was published 24/10/2016 (1215 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Holodomor Mobile Classroom (HMC) isn’t your regular classroom.
The 40-foot customized recreational vehicle is where students can learn through different digital media. On Oct. 18, Sisler High School students had the opportunity to learn about the Ukrainian genocide in an hour-long, facilitator-led educational experience featuring audio-visual presentations on a 28-foot screen inside the vehicle.
Students don’t just sit for an hour watching a presentation. As soon as they enter the RV, they are asked to turn off their phones. Not because it could be distracting, but because the motor class is equipped with Wi-Fi to be used by tablets handed to each student to complete interactive activities.
Lessons talk about the importance of multiculturalism, human rights, the rule of law and the concept of genocide. They aim to build students’ critical thinking skills and inspire them to exercise their social responsibility whenever possible.
"Understanding the Holodomor as to why it happened…the students are called to action to say ‘Wait a second, in Canada, our human rights are very important to us. We stand against bullying…we stand for tolerance, we stand for human rights,’" Roma Dzerowicz, HMC executive director, said.
HMC has been travelling for almost one year and has stopped by many cities in Canada and the United States, visiting schools and community centres. What would primarily be a museum became accessible for all people in Canada to experience and learn more about this great genocide.
Orysya Petryshyn, Sisler High School history teacher, said HMC would help students become more interested in the history of Holodomor and understand what has led other genocides around the world, including what happened in residential schools in Canada.
"It’s important to deliver this lesson to our new generation. It’s important to educate, to discuss, and to find what’s the next step and what we can do change and how we can do that together," Petryshyn said.
Moreover, Dzerowicz said that by understanding the history of these genocides, students are empowered to stand up and have a voice. HMC’s goal is to call students to action to take a stand against discrimination.
"Global issues and Canadian issues will always be in the forefront… It is up to (the students) to understand that the past doesn’t have to be repeated. If they see something happening, they can step in immediately, and they are protected for stepping in," she added.
"This is a way of looking through the lens of a tragic history; a denied history, a buried history to be brought back to life again…to prevent (genocide) from happening."
Did you know?
Holodomor means "death by starvation" in Ukrainian and refers to the man-made famine, or the genocide of 1932, imposed by Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin to end a democratic movement in the country.
At the end of the 1920s, Stalin demanded the collectivization of agriculture, forcing people to work on government farms. Some farmers resisted the confiscation of their land and became enemies of the state, called kulaks.
Stalin demanded kulaks must be exterminated as a class.
In 1932, the Communist Party set extremely high quotas for the amount of grain these farms had to contribute to the Soviet state. When they didn’t meet the quotas, the party would confiscate the seed kept for planting and require farmers to pay a high fine in the form of meat and potatoes. Many farmers tried to flee the country but the Soviet Union prohibited them from leaving.
The "Five Stalks Law" was a law that made it a crime punishable by death to take so much as five stalks of grain. Soldiers were put in watchtowers to ensure villagers wouldn’t try to harvest any food. The crops seized from Ukraine were exported to other countries.
Today, 26 countries in the world, including Canada, recognize Holodomor as a genocide.
—Source: Holodomor Mobile Classroom
Community journalist — The Times
Ligia Braidotti is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org