Archive for November, 2011

Here we go again: Calgary MLA from far-right Wild Rose Party Paul Hinman uses Holodomor to describe Alberta’s land-use laws (Update)

November 30th, 2011 5 comments

Another face-palming type of day as the far-right Wild Rose party attacks a Ukrainian Education minister for criticizing a disparaging comparison of the Holodomor:

The angry exchange erupted during a debate on the government’s new land-use law, Bill 19, when Wildrose critic Paul Hinman referenced the genocide in his remarks.

“We just had a commemoration of the Holodomor (genocide) of the starvation of Europe, and that wasn’t because of bad weather or not (being) able to produce,” Hinman said. “That was evil, corrupt government confiscating property from the people and trying to destroy a region which the government was having trouble controlling.
“Many of the acts that were taken in Europe during (the Second World War) and other times were very much brutal acts that didn’t respect property rights, and there are many areas in these (Alberta government) bills that have no respect for property rights.”

That set off Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk, who called for Hinman to be censured by the Speaker, saying the opposition MLA was trivializing one of the worst atrocities in human history.

“It was a very important historical event that killed thousands upon thousands, millions of people, including many relatives of Albertans,” Lukaszuk said.
“He’s comparing the policies we’re passing in the legislature right now to Stalin’s genocide in Ukraine. If this isn’t reaching a new bottom for the Wildrose, I don’t know what is. This is disgusting.”

Regardless of how you feel about Alberta’s land-use policy, it is completely unprofessional and offensive to trivialize the Holodomor as an attack point in provincial politics. This sort of ignorance does nothing but enhance the century-old tensions between the Ukrainian and Anglo-Saxon communities of the Praries.

Don’t be afraid to let Paul Hinman what you think about his remarks about the Holodomor, and note the special toll-free number to dial first. While no postage is required to write to federal politicians, it is required for these provincial ones.

Coming to Hinman’s aide was fellow Wild Rose member and MLA Rob Anderson:

“I would ask that member (Lukaszuk) to take his remarks back and apologize for insinuating such absolute stupidity, because that’s what it was. It was a stupid comment.”

Who later made this comment, according to Lukaszuk:

@RAndersonMLA #ableg #wrp #abgov Rob, Paul Hinman just said to me “You come from communism. You know about that”. Still denying?

You can also let Rob Anderson know what you thought about his remarks.

This isn’t the first time Alberta’s politicians have shamefully used the Holodomor to further their own political agenda, two years ago NDP leader Brad Wilson made the same despicable comparison.

Update: Hinman apologized last Wednesday for the remarks:

“I sincerely apologize if anybody would think that I would ever trivialize any of these atrocities in history,” Hinman said. “I have absolutely no intentions of that. … I did not in any way intend to correlate the two when I was talking about property rights.”

The Edmonton Journal also has a good opinion piece on the situation:

Is Bill 19 perfect? No. But frankly, concerted opposition from all the opposition parties, and the public, has made it better. That kind of debate is important and healthy – and in this case, it has led to significant and important improvements to protect the legal rights of property holders.

But the bill – which allows the government to assemble land for public projects like ring roads and water reservoirs – can in no sane way be compared to the forced collectivization of land in the U.S.S.R or Hitler’s seizure of the property of German Jews. The Redford government isn’t plotting an ethnic genocide – it’s trying to make sensible plans for future public infrastructure which while serve all Albertans. Any time a government expropriates private land for the “greater” public good, it’s unfair to individual landowners. That’s why it’s essential that the law provide landowners fair compensation and adequate legal recourse. But political hyperbole that in any way attempts to conflate straightforward, essential land use planning with the techniques employed by two of human history’s most evil butchers is insulting to the memory of the millions who died – and to the intelligence of today’s Albertans.

The Wildrose Party is quite right to raise serious questions about the weaknesses in Bill 19. Individual property rights are an important part of our democratic political tradition. I don’t like to see any legislation that would allow the state to run roughshod over civil liberties or the right to own and sell personal property. But if we want a province that has roads, and power lines and high speed railways and environmental preserves, we do need to give the government the right to assemble land for sound public policy reasons – provided that individual landowners are fairly compensated, and that the government’s plans are made with reasonable and open consultation, in the best community interest.

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‘Klitschko’ documentary playing in Toronto ‘till Thursday

November 28th, 2011 No comments

Klitschko, a documentary about the lives and careers of the Ukrainian heavyweight champion brothers, Wladmir and Vitali Kitschko, premiered last Friday at the Projection Booth (1035 Gerrard East) in Toronto and runs until this Thursday December 1st:

Six-foot-six Ukrainian brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko moved to Germany to begin careers in heavyweight boxing in 1996, and the sport was never the same. After a 15-year reign over the ring, they made history in 2008, becoming the first brothers in the sport to hold world titles at the same time. Through an engaging mix of candid interviews and absorbing fight footage, Klitschko offers a captivating glimpse into the makings of these champion boxing brothers. But who are these smart gentlemen of boxing, each with a PhD and fluent in four languages? Will Wladimir dominate Heavy Weight Boxing for another five years; and will Vitali, the politician, someday become the President of Ukraine? Will they really stick with the promise they made to their mother, never to fight against each other?

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a pretty good rating. Here’s the trailer:

It looks pretty good, if you get a chance to see it at theatre, please let us know in the comments.

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Weekend watching: Holodomor videos and memorial celebrations

November 25th, 2011 No comments

Tomorrow is Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day in Canada. I’ve collected quite a few videos including survival testimonials to help you give proper respect for the 7-10 million victims of this genocide:



  • Harvest of Despair – The original 1980’s documentary that aired on Canadian, American and British TV as well many schools around the world, which first brought light to this injustice – before the worlds of cell phones and the internet.
  • Holodomor. Ukraine, XX Century – The National television company of Ukraine produced a comprehensive documentary back in 2009 in both English and Ukrainian.
  • Planète – Holodomor episode – This is probably the first ever TV documentary on the Holodomor, produced by Radio Quebec back in 1983.  It features James Mace, the prominent Harvard researcher who published works on how the Holodomor was in fact genocide. It also mentions the Walter Duranty of the New York Times who denied the famine out right to the West, as well as the complicity of the British government not to help because of it’s relationship with the Soviet Union at the time.
  • The Soviet Story – A popular modern documentary about the Soviet crimes against humanity and its own people. It has many great interviews with Holodomor survivors, an overview of the entire Soviet system as well as forecasts for Europe’s future.
  • NPR’s Worldview – Holodomor episode – Audio only, it features great interviews with a survivor, clergy, academia, media and more!


Survivor Testimonials

For those who can endure it, here are interviews with many different survivors:


Memorial celebrations

There is still time to join one of the many celebrations, the UCC has them posted on their website.

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Niece, Author of first publisher of Holodomor Gareth Jones passes away at 86

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

Sad news out of England as the niece of Gareth Jones who was the first journalist to publicize the Holodomor in 1933 and later murdered through orders by the Soviet Union, passed away at the age of 86 last Sunday November 20th 2011. Dr. Margaret Colley published two books about her uncle, ‘More than a grain of truth’ a biography and ‘A Manchukuo Incident’ regarding his murder.image

Her son Nigel Colley continues on to tell the story of his great uncle, most recently this week at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Other notable talks have been given for the United Nations as well as the BBC, which is currently producing a documentary on Gareth.

On 2 May 2006, a trilingual (Welsh/English/Ukrainian) plaque was unveiled in Gareth Jones’ memory in the Old College at Aberystwyth University, in the presence of his niece Margaret Siriol Colley, and the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Ihor Kharchenko, who described him as an "unsung hero of Ukraine". The idea for a plaque and funding were provided by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (, working in conjunction with the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain. Dr Lubomyr Luciuk, UCCLA’s director of research, spoke at the unveiling ceremony.

In November 2008, Jones and fellow Holodomor journalist Malcolm Muggeridge were posthumously awarded the Ukrainian Order of Freedom at a ceremony in Westminster Central Hall, by Ambassador of Ukraine to the UK, Dr Ihor Kharchenko, on behalf of the President of Ukraine in reward for their exceptional services to the country and its people.


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Holodomor news round-up–Nov 21 2011

November 21st, 2011 No comments

Today kicks off Holodomor Awareness week which runs until Sunday November 27th, commemorating the genocide of 7-10 million Ukrainians through forced starvation by the USSR from 1932-33. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has a full list of Holodomor events happening this week, and here are some news worthy events that have happened so far:

Kyiv – Ukraine to honor famine victims on Nov. 26

Kyiv will host mourning events on Ukrainian Holodomor Remembrance Day on Nov. 26 with the participation of the country’s leaders, government members, other officials, and the public, the press service of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych reported on Nov. 18
According to the report, it is planned to hold a funeral procession, lay flowers at the Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims, and observe a minute of silence for the victims of famines.
On the same day, a requiem concert will be held at the National Opera House of Ukraine.

Buffalo – Area survivors recall horrors of forced famine in ’30s Ukraine

"I look around in the field, and I see lots of people dead," Iwaszczenko recalled Sunday, following a requiem service commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Ukrainian genocide.

Iwaszczenko, now 86, lost aunts and uncles in the great starvation, when agents of the Soviet state went into homes and confiscated any vegetables, grains and even seedlings — so peasants couldn’t grow their own food.

"The local government came in, and they took away all vegetables. They created hunger. They threw food in the ocean, but they wouldn’t give it to the people," said Iwaszczenko, who moved to Western New York in 1950. "We ate what we could from the fields."

Iwaszczenko’s parents survived the famine, too, but his father was arrested in 1937 by the KGB, the Soviet secret police. Iwaszczenko said he never again saw his father, and he still doesn’t know what happened to him.

Family members of Holodomor survivors also relayed stories passed down to them: of children being forced to vomit to prove to authorities they had no food in their homes; of a small head of cabbage feeding dozens of people in a soup seasoned only by the cook’s salty saliva; of villagers digging up floor boards for a bite of a spoiled seed.

"Stalin’s henchmen confined millions of Ukrainians in their villages, confiscated every grain and leaf of sustenance and prevented international relief efforts from reaching the millions of starving men, women and children," said John Riszko, secretary of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Buffalo Chapter.

Obama press secretary Jay Carney on Ukrainian Holodomor Remembrance Day

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence — a testament to the spirit and determination of the people of Ukraine — we also remember the suffering they endured seventy-eight years ago during the catastrophic famine that has come to be known as the Holodomor — the “death by hunger.”

This terrible tragedy, created by the intentional seizure of crops and farms across Ukraine by Joseph Stalin, was one of communism’s greatest atrocities. Today, Americans join with the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians around the world in remembering those who suffered and died senselessly as a result of this manmade famine.

Sadly, no mention of genocide.


Hamilton – Local Ukrainians commemorate 1932 genocide

Ukrainians have succeeded in getting the UN and countries, including Canada, to recognize the famine was genocide. But they want present-day Russia to acknowledge it, too, and to offer compensation, Sheweli said. “They just say it was a famine, that neighbouring countries experienced it as well — which is revisionist history.”

An acknowledgment, she said, would go a long way to restoring historical justice. Hamilton, with about 14,000 Ukrainians, has Canada’s sixth or seventh largest Ukrainian population and has 13 famine survivors still living according to Sheweli.

Sheweli, born in Ukraine, heard first-hand accounts of the genocide from her mother and grandmother. They and the other children survived by eating mushrooms and other edibles in the forest, as well as soups made of forest greens.


“In 1932, Stalin decided to vanquish the Ukrainian farmers by means of starvation and thus break the Ukrainian national revival that had begun in the 1920s and was rekindling Ukrainian aspirations for an independent state,” it states.

“The territory of Soviet Ukraine and the predominantly Kuban region of Northern Caucasus (Soviet Russia) were isolated by army units, so that people could not go in search of food to the neighbouring Soviet regions where it was more readily available. The result was the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33 known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor, or extermination by famine.”

The article also mentions all Holodomor events happening in Hamilton this week

Scholar: Pius XI wept when he learned of Stalin’s starvation of Ukraine

“The Pope [Pius XI] learned about the Holodomor from the French Jesuit Bishop Michel d’Herbigny, who was the president of the Pro Russia Commission,” says Father McVay. “D’Herbigny was receiving letters from the Soviet Union as well as reports from foreign diplomats who had witnessed the situation first hand. D’Herbigny attempted to move mountains in order to convince Pius XI to launch an aid-mission to the Soviet Union.”

“The emotional Pius XI wept when he received one report, and he insisted that something must be done,” he continued. “Unfortunately churchmen and diplomats all concurred that no aid would ever reach the people because Soviet authorities were officially denying the existence of a famine that Stalin had deliberately orchestrated. In the end, the Pope was only able to authorize a gift of 10,000 Italian lire to be forwarded to starving Catholics via German charitable organizations that had contacts in Ukraine.”

St. Catharines – Genocide Revealed

Film — Genocide Revealed, Nov. 23, 6:30 p.m., St. Catharines Centennial Public Library, Rotary Bankers Room, 54 Church St. Admission, non perishable food for Community Care. Memorial Service — Ecumenical Memorial Service Commemorating the Holodomor, followed by a short program. Nov. 27, 2:30 p.m, Ukrainian Black Sea Hall, 455 Welland Ave. Sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Call 905-935-5186.

Ukraine – TV and radio companies are called to cancel entertainment shows on memory Day of Holodomor victims

National council of Ukraine on TV and radio broadcast has sent an address to heads of TV and radio companies to change the programs on November 26, the memory Day of Holodomor victims, press office of the National council reports.
The National council notes in his address that November 26 is the day of national mourning and calls all the TV and radio companies to demonstrate humanity and civil position.

MPP Dave Levac elected Speaker of The House in surprise result

Liberal Dave Levac was elected Speaker of the Ontario legislature Monday, taking over as chief political referee in Ontario’s first minority parliament in a generation.

Dave Levac was first elected in 1999. After his re-election in 2003, he was given the role of Chief Government Whip. In 2009, Levac sponsored a private member’s bill 147 – The Holodomor Memorial Day Act. As the first bill sponsored by three parties, bill 147 honours the victims of the Ukrainian Famine.

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