2017 Holodomor Commemoration on Parliament Hill

November 21, 2017. OTTAWA. On November 20, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group and the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada held a well-attended, solemn commemoration in Canada’s Parliament to mark the 84th anniversary of the Holodomor Famine-Genocide.

In 1932-33, the totalitarian Soviet regime of dictator Joseph Stalin sentenced the Ukrainian nation to death by starvation. Millions of children, women and men were condemned to death because of the Ukrainian peoples’ aspiration for independence, their desire to speak their language and maintain their culture and traditions.

The UCC was honoured to welcome Holodomor Survivors Dr. Julia Woychyshyn and Mrs. Halyna Zelem, who lit the ceremonial candle at the beginning of the ceremony on Parliament Hill yesterday.

The Master of Ceremonies of the commemoration was Borys Wrzesnewskyj, MP, Chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group. Reverend Father Andrew Onuferko led the Opening Prayer.  The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and Guy Caron, MP, Parliamentary Leader of the New Democratic Party, delivered remarks.  A video of their remarks is available here

His Excellency Andriy Shevchenko, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada, delivered moving remarks on behalf of the Government of Ukraine, and Cassian Soltykevych, UCC Executive Committee member, spoke on behalf of the UCC and National President Paul Grod.

Bohdan Onyschuk, Chair of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour, spoke about the work of the Tour and the Mobile Classroom, and presented a trailer of a new documentary film, Hunger for Truth: The Rhea Clyman Story. The film tells the story of Rhea Clyman, a Canadian journalist who witnessed the Holodomor and was one of the first journalists who reported on the Genocide. The trailer for Hunger for Truth: The Rhea Clyman Story is available here

The Choir of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church led the singing of Вічная Пам’ять (Eternal Memory) and Reverend Father Ihor Okhrimtchouk led the assembled guests in the Closing Prayer.  A video of the moving performance by the Choir is available here.

“On behalf of the UCC, I would like to express sincere gratitude to Minister Sajjan, Mr. Scheer, Mr. Caron, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj and Ambassador Shevchenko for their heartfelt and poignant words honouring the memory of the victims of the Holodomor,” said UCC CEO Ihor Michalchyshyn. “We thank the many MPs, Senators, representatives of diplomatic missions and members of the Ottawa community who attended the Holodomor Commemoration ceremony at the Parliament of Canada.”

Earlier in the day, Members of Parliament and guests to Parliament Hill had the opportunity to visit the Holodomor National Awareness Tour Mobile Classroom.  The mobile classroom, a 40-ft RV, which has been travelling across Canada, provides students with an innovative learning experience about social justice, human rights and democratic values in relation to the genocide by famine which killed millions of Ukrainians.

The Government of Canada, through Inter-Action, Canada’s multiculturalism grants and contributions program, has provided a three-year grant valued at $1.5 million to support this project.International Holodomor Memorial Day is on Saturday, November 25. At 7:32 p.m. (19.32) local time please pause for a moment of silence and honour the memory of the victims by lighting a candle of remembrance in your home. Posting photos of your candles on social media with your thoughts of remembrance will help raise awareness.

More information on Holodomor Awareness Week is available here

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