Canada becomes first nation to recognize Holodomor as Genocide

Private Members Bill C-459 (now law):

Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the fourth Saturday in November shall be known as “Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day”

Reads the newly assented law by Selkirk-Interlake MP James Bezan. On Tuesday in the House of Commons, in one motion moved by Bezan the bill was deemed to have been read a second time, considered in committee, reported, concurred in, read a third time and passed. The bill then went the Senate, where it passed all stages on Wednesday. The bill received Royal Assent yesterday at Rideau Hall.

This bill is about recognizing a historic wrong ignored by the West. The communist ideology of Soviet Dictator Joseph Stalin targeted and exterminated millions of Ukrainian men, women and children through forced famine.

-James Bezan

In a show of solidarity, opposition Etobicoke-Centre MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj supported the move and ensured the bill would pass at all stages. Wrzesnewskyj already had Bill C-450 for quite some time respecting a national day of remembrance of the Ukrainian Holodomor-Genocide in first reading, but rose immediately in the House to seek unanimous consent for Lezan’s Bill after a number of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons blocked the passage of their own caucus member’s bill, twice!

With Mr. Bezan having voted in favour, Mr. Wrzesnewskyj then crossed the aisle and together and alongside of Mr. Bezan began a series of intense negotiations with the Hon. Jason Kenney, Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity).

During these negotiations, Wrzesnewskyj and Bezan were adamant that the Holodomor bill pass all stages of the House of Commons today, and proceed immediately to the Senate. Wrzesnewskyj underscored that he did not want the bill to go to committee where it would potentially be delayed and not be reviewed until the Fall when an expected election could derail its passage.

Minister Kenney stated amendments and word changes were necessary and that this would require the bill to go through the committee stage. However, following discussions, amendments were agreed to and an agreement was struck to pass this historic bill at all stages.

In the concluding remarks during his address in the House of Commons on the historic passage of the Holodomor bill through the House of Commons, Wrzesnewskyj stated:

“Discussions have taken place this afternoon among all parties and in the spirit of those two words, БІЛЬШ НІКОЛИ – “never again”, at the end of today’s debate there will be an unusual display of goodwill among all parties and respect for the millions who perished. There will be agreement on amendments to the Holodomor famine-genocide bill which will allow its passage at all stages so it can be sent to the Senate.” – (courtesy: UCC Press Release 5/28/08)

Senator Raynell Andreychuk also sponsored the bill through the Senate:

It is important that this bill be recognized by Parliament and the Government of Canada, which will allow us to honour the victims and survivors of the Holodomor that are in Canada, Ukraine and around the world. It will also let Ukraine and the International community know that Canada supports calling Holodomor, a genocide

Also a big thanks to the many other politicians who showed their support:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Hon. Stephen Dion, Hon.  Jack Layton, Gilles Duceppe, Secretary of State Jason Kenney and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko who visited Canada this week.

БІЛЬШ НІКОЛИ – “never again”

President Yushchenko tours Canada

After a successful landing in Ottawa visiting the House of Commons and the last stop of the Holodomor Flame tour, President Viktor Yushchenko visited various other provinces. Unfortunately the President missed his first and only stop in Alberta to visit the Ukrainian village and Albertan Premier Ed Stelmach who is of Ukrainian descent. Blaming a tight schedule, this would have been a historic meeting of the only Ukrainian government figureheads in the world. Although an article printed weeks ago already anticipated this cancellation, citing a political struggle between Stolmach and Harper:

Considering the average Ukrainian wedding lasts three days, six hours of face time with Yushchenko seems downright inhospitable. But was it deliberately designed that way by Harper and his envious Ottawa Conservatives? Especially with the PM trying to hog the spotlight by recently promising to back Ukraine’s bid to join NATO.

Off to Winnipeg next to meet with Premier of Manitoba Gary Albert Doer. The two signed an agreement between Dnipropetrovsk region and Province of Manitoba in trade-economic, agricultural, scientific and humanitarian cooperation. He also spoke at the Manitoba legislature and promised to ensure the Holodomor is featured in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a national museum planned for Winnipeg, which is still in the fundraising stage. (Pictures and Video).

Yushchenko was in Toronto last night at the Economic Club, saying Ukraine was on the verge of becoming the next modern power (Article + Video):

“We are in a very dynamic process … that has never been like this before,”

“Three years ago no one in the world recognized us as a market economy. Today we are the 152nd member of the WTO (World Trade Organization).”

Yushchenko also met with Toronto mayor David Miller as well as Toronto’s Ukrainian community (article + video) in the West End.

President Yushchenko meets Prime Minister Harper in Ottawa


For the first time in more than 14 years, a President of Ukraine has made an official visit to Canada, the first Western country to recognize Ukraine’s independence in 1991 (some pictures and video here). Addressing the House of Commons, Yushchenko said:

“The development pace that requires centuries for many countries is covered by several years by us,” he told the Commons. “However the recent years have shown that the most complicated problems and challenges, including the social problems, we resolve them in a very democratic and civilized way. We are speaking frankly about our problems.”

He also talked about the past of Ukraine’s sovereignty, in the last 90 years being declared independent six times:

“I don’t want this range of historic tragedies to be repeated in today’s history of Ukraine. The only …solution to make Ukraine eternal is Ukraine’s ascension to the system of collective security.

Yushchenko also thanked Harper for Canada’s support for Ukraine in NATO:

“When we’re speaking about Ukraine’s NATO membership, we’re speaking about genuine Ukraine sovereignty. This is the reason why such a strong and insistent policy is being carried out by the Ukrainian government”

Yushchenko also raised the issue of the Holodomor for support of MP James Bezan‘s private member bill C-469 which has already the Liberal’s and NDP’s support.

“I anticipate that the bill will pass,” said Harper. “It’s important that the world not forget.”

The vote for the bill is scheduled to happen tomorrow.

Also, Senator Raynell Andreychuk and Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj will be given the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise while Yushchenko will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial and then participate in a tree-planting ceremony.

More newspaper sources: CBC, CTV Winnipeg, Canwest News Service, the Globe and Mail, Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Press, Toronto Star. The Financial Post also interviewed Pres. Yushchenko.

President Yushchenko visits Canada this week

UPDATE: Click Here for President Yushchenko meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

With the wrapping up of the Holodomor Remembrance Flame in Canada over the weekend, President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko will visit various cities across Canada this week and meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to show his support for Manitoba Tory MP James Bezan’s private member’s bill C-469 to officially recognize the Ukrainian famine as genocide.

It’s a shift from last fall, when during the 75th anniversary commemoration of the famine
on Parliament Hill Stephen Harper made no mention of genocide.

Here is the schedule of this historic three-day visit:

It’s Carassauga time 2008!

Every May the city of Mississauga (next to Toronto), Ontario puts on a weekend-long multicultural festival celebrating Canada’s diversity:  Carassauga. This year Ukraine does not have its own pavilion as it did in years prior but will still be participating in the International Pavilion with culinary kiosks and performances by the Barvinok School of Ukrainian Dance:

  • Friday, May 23: 8:10 PM-8:30 PM & 10:00 PM-10:30 PM
  • Saturday, May 24: 5:40 PM-6:10 PM & 7:40 PM-8:10 PM
  • Sunday, May 25: 1:00 PM-1:30 PM & 3:20 PM-3:50 PM

at INTERNATIONAL PAVILION, ARENA 2

Tomken Arena
4495 Tomken Rd.
Mississauga L4W 1J9
Telephone: 905.615.4620
(South of Eglinton Ave. on Tomken Road and north of Eastgate Pkwy.)

Tickets are only $10 ($8 for children) and are available at the door.

Here are some pictures from last year’s event (although the thumbnails don’t work, clicking on them does bring up full pictures) and some more.  Also here’s a Kontakt broadcast from the 2005 Pavillion.

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