- The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is bringing to light new research into Stalin's secret-police files on the 1932–33 genocide in Ukraine, until recently shrouded in secrecy and denial.
The CMHR has organized a visit to Canada by world-renowned Ukrainian researchers, including historian Stanislav Kulchytskyi, who have worked to bring evidence of this genocide to public light. Secret state archives in Ukraine – including hundreds of thousands of Soviet secret-police orders and case files – have only come to light in the past few years. The documents, many still difficult to access, are adding hard proof about the deliberate nature of atrocities that survivors and their families (many in Canada) have long struggled to bring to public attention.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed this year with Ukraine's national Holodomor museum, and in collaboration with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Manitoba), CMHR is hosting lectures and public events in Canada to coincide with Holodomor Awareness Week, November 19 to 25. The genocide was conducted to crush Ukrainian resistance as the Soviet Union moved to collectivize agriculture 80 years ago. Millions of Ukrainians died of starvation – a fact denied by Soviet authorities right into the 1980s. At the same time, thousands of scholars, journalists and teachers were thrown in jail.
"The Holodomor holds powerful human-rights lessons," said Stuart Murray, CMHR president and CEO. "It shows why we must remain vigilant against abuse of state power. It also highlights the nature of food as a basic human right, which is a topic that continues to be relevant around the world."
The CMHR, slated to open in Winnipeg in 2014, will become a unique educational hub to explore the nature and importance of human rights, using lessons from past and present to inspire Canadians and international visitors into action. The Holodomor will be an integral learning tool in the Museum's programming and exhibits.
The Holodomor has special importance for Canada, where Ukrainian Canadians, university researchers and many others have worked to raise awareness. Memorials to the genocide have been erected across the country, including the first public monument unveiled in Edmonton in 1983. Canada in 2008 officially recognized the Holodomor as genocide and designated the fourth Saturday in November as "Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day".
"The Museum will work to enlighten visitors about what the human-rights lessons from this genocide mean today for people in Canada – and its role in shaping our very Canadian identity," Murray said.
The CMHR's special guest lecturers from Ukraine are Stanislav Kulchytskyi, the Deputy Director of the Institute of History of Ukraine, 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.
Dr. Clint Curle of the CMHR has organized the lecture series with the assistance of Canadian researchers such as Dr. Myroslav Shkandrij of the University of Manitoba and Dr.Bohdan Klid of the University of Alberta.
The events were planned with the help of many Canadian organizations, including the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Manitoba Provincial Council), the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies, the Shevchenko Scientific Society of Canada, the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre at the University of Alberta, the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre — Oseredok, the Honorary Consul of Ukraine in Winnipeg, the University of Winnipeg's Global College, and the University of Manitoba's Central and East European Studies Program and Department of German and Slavic Studies.
A schedule of the upcoming public events can be found below.
Schedule of events
- Winnipeg — Tuesday, November 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".
- Edmonton — Wednesday, November 21: 2 p.m., Telus Centre, Room 1–34, University of Alberta: "Round table on the famines of Ukraine, 1928–33".
- Winnipeg — Thursday, November 22: 7 p.m., Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok), 184 Alexander Avenue East. "New research on the Holodomor".
- Winnipeg — Friday, November 23: 12:30 p.m., Room 2M70, University of Winnipeg: "Interpreting the Holodomor".
- Winnipeg — Saturday, November 24: 1:30 p.m., Winnipeg City Hall, 610 Main Street: Holodomor memorial ceremony.
- Toronto — Thursday, November 29: 7:30 p.m., Ukrainian Canadian Art Foundation, 2118-A Bloor Street West: "The Ukrainian Holodomor: the why and the how" and "The museum (in Ukraine) as a centre of commemoration of the victims of the Holodomor."