Holodomor Commemoration – Parliament Hill, Ottawa – November 30, 2010
Dear Holodomor survivors, Your Eminence Metropolitan Yurij, Reverend clergy, Hon. Members of Parliament and Senators, Ambassador Ostash, distinguished guests – dobryj vechir, good evening,
Allow me to share with you a brief quote of one of the Holodomor survivors, Mrs. Maria Firman (nee Martyniuk) which is available on the website www.holodomorsurvivors.ca together with many other testimonials.
“They told my father to take the bells down from the church. Father said, “I didn’t put them up and I won’t take them down.” So they beat him and took him to a holding cell. We didn’t see him for more than two weeks, and when he came home, he died right away.”
“My sister died in bed by my side but I didn’t even know she was dead. My mother wanted to give her something to eat, and called her, “Ksenya, Ksenya.” I said, “She’s sleeping.” Mother went to her and she was already cold. Imagine what state I was in, I didn’t understand anything. Hunger kills. Who hasn’t been hungry may not understand, but hunger kills your memory.”
“When wheat or rye was harvested, they used machines, and left stalks in the field. So my mother, on her way home, collected stalks in order to cook something. A brigadier took away the stalks and beat my mother. My mother came home, lay down on the bed, and never got up again. I don’t know how long she lay there, but that’s how she died.”
In a recent article, Dr. David R. Marples characterized current day Ukraine as a society that never fully recovered from the Holodomor. He stated that “Present-day residents still have problems coming to terms with the crimes committed in 1932-33, because essentially this heartland of Ukraine was systematically “denationalized” and eradicated by the Soviet regime.”
It is this loss of memory and this denationalization which remains a significant problem for many Ukrainians, even its current President Viktor Yanukovych who has unfortunately bowed to Russia’s current interpretation of Ukraine’s history.
On behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian community, I congratulate Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his resolve in bringing the issue of Holodomor recognition to the forefront during his recent visit to Ukraine. I thank Canada’s Members of Parliament, Senators together with their political parties, and the Members of the Legislative Assemblies of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec for your struggle against Holodomor denial.
Canadians have concluded Holodomor Awareness week last Saturday with a number of national initiatives including the lighting of the International Remembrance Candle – Cвічка Моліня – which is lit before us this evening. Despite our best efforts to raise awareness about arguably one of the greatest genocides in the history of mankind, it is ironic that Canada’s newest Museum and the first national museum outside of Ottawa, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, has unfortunately decided to bury the Holodomor along with Canada’s First National Internment Operations into obscure catch all sections of the Museum with titles such as “The Canadian Human Rights Journey (Unfinished Business)”.
It is through initiatives like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that we create a unique opportunity to tell the world stories that are dear to Canadians and are relatively unknown or underappreciated around the world such as the Holodomor. Canada today has an opportunity as a world leader in human rights to help Ukraine and the world address its difficult past and make it a better place for all its citizens.
May God inspire us to do good and may the memory of the victims of the Holodomor be eternal – Вічная Їм Память.