Holodomor (November 24)

October 29, 2021
Ottawa Journal (October 29 – November 02, 2021)

Seventy-nine years ago, Ukrainians suffered what Prime Minister Stephen Harper called “one of the great crimes of history,” the Holodomor. Our Government remains committed to raising international awareness about this issue and to making sure the victims of the Holodomor are never forgotten.

We recognize that the deliberate starvation of millions of men, women, and children was an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people by the Soviet regime under dictator Josef Stalin. In remembering these atrocities, we are able to remind ourselves that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. In Canada and around the world, we must protect the inalienable human rights and liberties of each person by recognizing and addressing the worst of humanity’s abuses, such as the millions who have died under communist tyranny.

These acts must never be forgotten. This is why Canada became the first country in the world to recognize the 1932-33 famine as an act of genocide. After unanimous approval in Parliament, we then established Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day as the fourth Saturday in November. Each year after Remembrance Day, when we honour the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and our allies who fought for our rights and freedoms, we will also reflect on what can happen when those rights and freedoms are not protected.

On the international stage, Canada was a proud co-sponsor of a motion that Ukraine made at UNESCO in 2007. It honoured the millions who were slain and acknowledged that their cause of death was deliberately manufactured by a brutal communist regime.

The actions of Canada, under our Government, are the result of the special bond shared between the Canadian and Ukrainian peoples. There are over one million Canadians of Ukrainian heritage. We celebrated Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet regime by becoming the first western country to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. Upon hearing of Ukraine’s approaching independence, then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sent three Canadians – our Consul General in Kiev, a special envoy from External Affairs, and MP Patrick Boyer – on a late night trip to inform the President of Ukraine of our recognition of their sovereignty.

Today, Canada remains committed to the success of Ukraine and to building on the work the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has done to strengthen Ukraine’s electoral system. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper last visited Ukraine, he spoke strongly about the need to defend human rights around the world. He laid a symbolic pot of grain at the foot of the commemorative statue ‘Sad Memory of Childhood,’ at the National Holodomor Memorial Museum and Monument.

Prime Minister Harper also worked to help promote connections between the two countries during his visit to Ukraine. He signed an agreement to help young people both travel and work between our two nations and announced that we are working towards a free trade agreement with Ukraine. Our Government remains committed to those goals and to building on our already strong relationship.

Thus, let us all honour those lost during this great tragedy and rededicate ourselves to the protection and promotion of universal human rights. By keeping these tragedies at the forefront of our minds, we can help ensure they will never happen again.