In the winter of 1932-33, the ruthless regime of Joseph Stalin used the power of the Soviet state to contrive a totally artificial but deadly famine, specifically targeted at the people of Ukraine. It constituted an act of genocide, entrapping and deliberately starving up to 10 million people – about a third of them children.
Amid bountiful harvests in what was known as the breadbasket of Europe, food supplies were confiscated. The desperate population was blocked from seeking sustenance elsewhere. At the height of the devastation, 25,000 people were dying every day. As much as 25 percent of Ukraine’s population was eliminated, to suit Stalin’s brutal political objectives.
It took a long time for the world to come to grips with this sorry reality. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an independent Parliament in Ukraine enacted legislation recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide. They also urged the whole global community to acknowledge, honestly and accurately, what had transpired in 1932-33.
To date, over 20 countries (including Canada) have recognized the Holodomor for the genocide that it was. The fourth Saturday in November has been identified as an annual day of remembrance.
Such an anniversary matters to Canadians. With Ukrainian settlement in Canada stretching back over 120 years, more than 1.25-million citizens of this country trace their family heritage to Ukraine. Canadians and Ukrainians share a deep love of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
That’s why we mourn those who perished in the Holodomor, and pay solemn tribute to the fortunate ones who survived.
That’s also why Canadians take a passionate interest in Ukraine’s difficult journey toward genuine democratization, after so many decades of foreign domination and totalitarianism. As the most recent elections have demonstrated, it’s not easy.
As we mark the Holodomor this year, let us be firmly resolved to support the Ukrainian people in their on-going struggle for honest elections, for legal rights and freedoms that mirror our Canadian Charter, and for a political system that respects the unquenchable Ukrainian thirst for freedom.
Liberal Deputy Leader