Tag Archives: canada

Elizabeth Bachinsky gets in touch with the darker side of her Ukrainian heritage in her latest book (Updated)

From Uptown Magazine (Winnipeg):

Vancouver-based poet Elizabeth Bachinsky got in touch with her Ukrainian heritage with her new book, God of Missed Connections (Nightwood Editions).

“I’m third generation Vancouver and we’re pretty closed off from that culture,” she says.

“It’s a really good vantage point,” she adds. “I never tried the superficial stuff like dancing or food. That’s the stuff I wanted to get past. You have to take those kitschy qualities and transform them. It’s about taking Ukrainian culture into the post-modern. It’s hard to do but not impossible.

“Ukrainians are deadly sexy.”
The poems cover Bachinsky’s family history and Stephen Leacock’s casual racism, Canadian internment camps and forced starvation in the old country. The Bread Basket of Europe gives new, terrifying meaning to a cliché I often heard growing up. She makes poignant use of the word Holodomor (or “murder by hunger,” referring to the millions who staved to death under Stalin).

“I get corrected all the time after readings,” she says. “I like to be corrected. It means to me that things aren’t getting through the way they should. It’s the nuances that get missed, not the big historical facts. Which are the story, but not the whole story.”

Buy the book from Amazon

Update: I found an interview with her done from Agora:

EB: I wanted to write the book I couldn’t find. When I began this project I found it fascinating how many (hundreds!) of academic texts, memoirs, interviews, short stories, poems, documentary films, videos, paintings, collages, sculptures, websites, blogs, etc. are dedicated to the history of Ukraine and of Ukrainians in Canada—yet very few of these resources are produced by Ukrainian-Canadian authors of my generation. And almost none of these are creative works. I practically fell over when I found work by Lisa Grekul whose first novel Kalyna’s Song (Coteau, 2003) is the coming-of-age story of a third-generation Ukrainian Canadian girl who grows up in northeastern Alberta and southern Africa. I also took a lot of interest in a website called Poetry International Web where you can read poetry in translation by Ukrainian poets born between 1954-1974. I was particularly impressed with poems by Andriy Bondar, Halyna Krouk, Yuri Andrukhovych…all the Ukrainian poets you’ll find on that website, actually. It seemed to me that my poetry was often in conversation with those young poets in Ukraine. And Lisa Grekul’s fantastic book of essays, Leaving Shadows, gave valuable context for my work here in Canada.

It is important to say, I think, that I wrote God of Missed Connections from a place of ignorance. I had never, for example, heard of Holodomor or the internment operations during the First World War that saw between five and six thousand Ukrainian Canadians imprisoned. And I’m not ashamed to say I was ignorant. Ignorance is the resource that made me seek out the works of Myrna Kostash, Helen Potrebenko, Andy Suknaski, Natalka Hussar, and countless others. But, of course, in the act of inquiry there is always the problem of selectivity. Robert N. Proctor writes in his book Agnotology: the Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (Stanford University Press, 2008):

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Communists stopping Ottawa’s victims of communism memorial

From the National Post

Plans for a monument on Parliament Hill to honour the estimated 100 million or so innocent men, women and children killed at the hands of Communist regimes around the world, on the other hand, have hit a snag, with the NCC (National Capital Commission) worried that a "Memorial to the Victims of Totalitarian Communism" risks giving offence to communists.

"I was unsettled by this name, and other members of the committee agreed with me," Hélène Grand-Maître, one commission member, said at the public approval hearing. "We should make sure that we are politically correct in this designation…. I feel this name should be changed."

"It’s the victims of communism that the memorial commemorates," she says. "Without the word ‘communism,’ the memorial will cease to have its intended meaning." Similar monuments, in Europe and in Washington, D.C., explicitly identify communism as the culprit in the millions of deaths they memorialize. She says her group is unclear on whether the monument can proceed, in light of the NCC’s concerns, but remains adamant that "the word ‘communism’ has to be in the name."

Continue reading Communists stopping Ottawa’s victims of communism memorial

"I think it’s really neat that a fifth-generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian– but pay for it yourself," – Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney

Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney is quite busy these days. When he’s not barring British anti-war MPs from entering Canada, axing funding to Canadian-Arab groups, deporting war-resisters or even tweeting on Twitter, he’s busy shaping our multiculturalism in a very diverse way: English or French speaking only! Our minister’s latest fight is to deny citizenship to immigrants who can’t speak English or French well enough. He believes new Canadians " have a duty to integrate." and adds "We don’t need the state to promote diversity. It is a natural part of our civil society." With that his government has ceased funding programs such as heritage language classes, and Kenney commented:

"I think it’s really neat that a fifth-generation Ukrainian Canadian can speak Ukrainian– but pay for it yourself," – Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney

Do the Conservatives believe Canada should be more of a U.S.-style melting pot rather than a multicultural society or should it just be a private affair? Perhaps immigrants and their cultures are being the scapegoat during our recession? Does this strategy even work? Add this to the list of crazy Conservatives moves this week.

The shameful roots of the Shaw Festival

The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario founded in 1962 as a salute to Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw.  The Globe and Mail noticed how this year among others the lack of diversity among actors, which mirrored Shaw’s own beliefs:

Shaw was a Stalinist and helped whitewash the Ukrainian Holodomor

From his Wikipedia page:

After visiting the USSR in the 1930s where he met Stalin, Shaw became an ardent supporter of the Stalinist USSR. The preface to his play On the Rocks (1933) is primarily an effort to justify the pogroms conducted by the OGPU. In an open letter to the Manchester Guardian, he dismisses stories of a Soviet famine as slanderous and calls reports of its exploited workers falsehoods.[57] Asked why he did not stay permanently in the Soviet ‘earthly paradise’, Shaw jokingly explained that England was a hell and he was a small devil. He wrote a defense of Stalin’s espousal of Lysenkoism in a letter to Labour Monthly.

You can download the play here, it should be in the public domain in Canada.

Edit:  I found a lot more information online.  Very scary to know we have a festival for a man who believed Auschwitz was caused by overcrowding.

Is the Vatican the next genocide denier?

Last month President Yushchenko invited Pope Benedict to Ukraine to set up a working group to research and study historical documents in the Vatican Secret Archives related to Ukraine, including the Holodomor.

Unfortunately what they got was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a Secretary of State who loves the lime light – he appeared on many TV shows and articles denouncing the Da Vinci code and on his first day on the job announced “the Pope’s option in favour of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is equally unequivocal”.  His attitude towards the Holodomor isn’t any better:

“The Ukrainian people and authorities perceive the tragedy of the Holodomor very painfully primarily because, as we know, the tremendous failure of crops that affected Ukraine in those years provoked the death of seven million people,” Bertone said.

Crop failure, are you serious?  It’s such an outdated defense not even the deniers are using it anymore!  Even the slightest amount of research will draw you the conclusion that the Holodomor was the result of a state-sponsored famine through confiscation (Fact #2), not a natural catastrophe.

The new direction the Vatican is taking is a complete turn around from the days of Pope John Paul II who was a staunch opponent of CommunismHe addressed to Ukraine on the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor:

These are the sentiments that the 70th anniversary of the consequences of the Holodomor tragedy awakens in my heart: millions of people suffered an atrocious death due to the nefarious success of an ideology that caused suffering and bereavement in many parts of the world throughout the 20th century. It is for this reason, Venerable Brothers, that I want to be present in spirit at the celebrations to commemorate the countless victims of the great famine instigated in Ukraine by the Communist regime. It was an inhuman scheme put into effect in cold blood by those in power at the time.

As is proving more and more evident, larger groups of concentrated power aren’t beneficial to the individual no matter what group you belong to.

I’m still looking up how to contact Cardinal Bertone.