Holodomor tour comes to Sacred Heart

The Holodomor, which took place in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, resulted in the deaths of millions of people, but because if was covered up by the former USSR, it has not been well known. The Holodomor National Awareness Tour intends to make people more aware of what happened, why it happened, and why it remains important.

Holodomor means death by starvation, and was the result of a famine created by the Russian government, which was made by selling Ukrainian grain on the open market while not allowing Ukrainian people to eat any of the food produced in their nation explains Roma Dzerowicz, Executive Director of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour.

“You had the regime taking away food stock, taking away grain. Ukraine was the bread basket of Europe, and it had more grain to feed all of Europe and then some, but what Russia was doing was taking the grain away, selling it into the open market. It affected Canadian grain prices because they were exporting double what was their normal quota, dumping it in the western market.”

But Dzerowicz says it wasn’t merely about getting grain.

“They wanted independence, Stalin didn’t like it, he wanted to hold them back, have them part of his puppetry, for lack of better words, and just to have control.”

The event was covered up by the Soviet Union, and even reports of what was happening in the country were contradicted by Soviet officials, Dzerowicz says, and as a result many people don’t know that it had happened. Documents about the event have only recently been uncovered.

“The Holodomor was a piece of hidden and covered up piece of tragic Ukrainian history. It was covered up by the Soviet Union.”

It’s also the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement in Canada, and with Yorkton having a large Ukrainian population, Dzerowicz says it was a natural stop for the tour. She also says that it’s an opportunity to show people how important it was that their ancestors left the country in time.

“Those people were the lucky ones, they escaped the brutal regimes, though they didn’t know it at the time.”

The visit at Sacred Heart High School meant bringing the school’s classes through the bus and getting them to work  together on looking at documents and artifacts from the era and presenting their findings to each other. The general public had the opportunity to watch documentaries on the subject on a wall of screens that made up one side of the touring bus.

It’s not just about Holodomor, but about keeping people aware that genocides still happen in the world, and to use Holodomor as a way to educate people to try to get them aware of any similar events happening in the world. Dzerowicz uses the example of China’s one child policy as a kind of genocide, and the kind of thing they hope people become more aware of as they learn more about the topic.

“It’s never a punishment for doing something, but more of a punishment for a nation for who they are, and how they might not fit into somebody’s scheme of things.”

Dzerowicz also believes students, such as the ones at Sacred Heart High School, are the people who need to hear the message most of all.

“It’s up to our youth to take a call to action and stand up and speak against these regimes that are happening and these actions that governments are taking against the human race. It’s not just one person, it’s everyone who has to take action. It’s not just one person who is affected, it’s everyone who is affected, because it’s a ripple effect.”

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