News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 23, 2017

Manitoba Commemorates Holodomor with Ukrainian Community

Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day Is Nov. 25

Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox is joining Ukrainians in Manitoba and across the world to remember the Ukrainian famine genocide of 1932 to 1933.  During the Soviet government’s regime, millions of Ukrainians starved to death during the Holodomor, which translates into ‘death by hunger.’

“An artificial famine in Ukraine was created through the deliberate seizure of land and crops,” said Cox.  “Here in Manitoba, home to many people of Ukrainian descent who have made significant contributions to the fabric and foundation of our province, it is incumbent upon all of us to learn from the painful events of the past and renew our commitment to the prevention of future atrocities.”

Manitoba is among jurisdictions around the world that formally commemorate the Holodomor annually on the fourth Saturday of November, known in Manitoba as Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day.

“I have many painful memories permanently etched in my mind of what my parents endured, what they sacrificed to keep their children alive,” said Sonia Kushliak of Winnipeg, a Holodomor survivor who was eight years old in Ukraine when the famine began.  “We survivors witnessed the slow, horrific deaths of family members and neighbours.  We share a commitment to do what we can to document our personal experiences and every November, to honour and pray for the millions of innocent souls that perished.”

Kushliak thanked the Manitoba government for its efforts to raise public awareness.

“For so many years, the truth about the Holodomor was supressed or denied, but now the truth is being told and honoured,” said Joan Lewandosky, vice-president, Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) – Manitoba Provincial Council.  “Our organization is grateful and proud that the citizens of Manitoba and Canada live in a time and place where their freedom is secure and the memory of those millions of men, women and children who were forcibly starved to death during the Holodomor in Ukraine are remembered and commemorated.”

Members of the Ukrainian community will join Cox Thursday afternoon for a short ceremony at the ‘Bitter Memories of Childhood’ monument on the Manitoba Legislative Building grounds. The statue depicts a starving girl holding five stalks of wheat, to symbolize Soviet law that enforced death or imprisonment for anyone caught picking grain from collective farm fields, which led to mass arrests and executions as hungry Ukrainians searched for scraps of food.

The Manitoba Legislative Building also displays a painting by Orysia Sinitowich-Gorski depicting the Holodomor years of 1932 to 1933.

During today’s question period, the minister will introduce a moment of silence.  Stalks of wheat, tied with a black ribbon, will be placed on the desk of every member of the legislative assembly.

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