Millions who died during Holodomor, a genocide inflicted through starvation in Ukraine in the 1930s, were remembered at the Saskatchewan legislature Monday.
“One cannot begin to imagine the devastation experienced by the Ukrainian people as a result of Holodomor,” said Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan-Ukraine Relations Greg Ottenbreit.
“Today we remember those who were lost and honour those who survived and built thriving communities in our province and around the world.”
The service included a symbolic candle lighting. The memorial candle, located in the rotunda of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, will remain lit for the week to show solidarity with people around the world who are taking time to remember.
A wreath will rest at the Bitter Memories of Childhood Holodomor statue, which is east of the Legislative Building along Lakeshore Drive. The bronze statue, dedicated in 2015, is an exact replica of the original that stands near the entrance of the National Holodomor Museum in Kyiv, Ukraine. It is of a young peasant girl holding a wheat sheaf as a tear runs down her cheek. The monument serves as a lasting reminder of the famine’s devastation and its impact on children.
Under Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s communist regime, up to 10 million Ukrainians were killed during the genocide. Despite substantial grain harvests during 1932 and 1933, crops were confiscated with Stalin’s regime imposing a man-made famine and preventing Ukrainians from leaving their communities in search of food.
Holodomor Memorial Week runs from Nov. 21 to 27. Saturday, Nov. 26, will mark International Holodomor Memorial Day.
The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was the first jurisdiction in North America to recognize this genocide with the passing of The Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act in 2008.
A Holodomor memorial was erected in North Battleford’s Flag and Cultural Corridor on Nov. 22, 2014. The monument is an exact replica of a monument to the victims of Holodomor in Kiev.
It was made locally by Vasyl Polishchuk and Segii Murai and was displayed at City Hall in 2008 when the torch relay commemorating the Holodomor made a stop in North Battleford.
Afterwards, the display went into storage, but the Battlefords Ukrainian Canadian Cultural Council actively campaigned for a permanent, public home for the monument.