By Lesia Korobaylo, The Ukrainian Weekly
December 23, 2001
TORONTO - In order to promote public awareness about the unprecedented and
tragic Famine-Genocide in Soviet-occupied Ukraine during 1932-1933, the
Toronto Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress organized and sponsored a
commemorative week whose focus was educational programs for students.
Over 370 elementary and high school students actively participated in these
educational programs, which took place at the Ukrainian Canadian Art
Foundation (UCAF) during the week of November 17-25.
Displayed throughout the foundation's gallery was a children's art exhibit
titled "Famine-Genocide Through the Eyes of a Child." This exhibit comprised
210 paintings produced last year by Toronto area students during art
workshops created and conducted by art educator Halia Dmytryshyn. The broad
spectrum of these dramatic and colorful paintings depicted life in Ukraine
from the prosperous years before the Famine-Genocide to the paintings
representing the brutal Soviet campaign of food confiscations, destruction
of property, terror and murder.
Famine-Genocide survivor and teacher Nicholas Latyshko retold his desperate
survival story to the spellbound students. Mr. Latyshko emphasized that the
Famine was not the result of climatic conditions or poor harvest, but was
deliberately perpetrated on the Ukrainian people by the Soviet regime.
Education consultant Valentina Kuryliw and educator Marika Szkambara
provided historical lessons; Ms. Dmytryshyn covered the elements of art
related to the children's art exhibit. Information kits included a
Famine-Genocide booklet featuring an extensive bibliography, current
articles, quotes, facts, as well as questionnaires for students.
Of paramount importance were the presentations by students Oleksa Rewa and
Mykhaylo Reay, both very active members in various Ukrainian youth
organizations. Mr. Rewa is a University of Toronto student majoring in Life
Sciences with a minor in Ukrainian Studies. Two years ago while
simultaneously completing his International Baccalaureate and his OAC (grade
13) at the Toronto French School he wrote a major essay, entitled "The
Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933" for which he earned an A+. Mr. Reay, who is
currently an OAC student at St. Michael's College, wrote a major independent
study essay this year about the Famine-Genocide for his Modern Western
Civilization course and for which he also received an A+. His premise was to
prove that this was not just a famine but that in fact it was genocide.
In their presentations to the students, Messrs. Rewa and Reay outlined their
research methods, referred to the wealth of information available on the
Internet, recommended obtaining key information from the Ukrainian Canadian
Research and Documentation Center, read excerpts from their essays and
encouraged the students to also write about this genocidal famine.
It is worth noting that in this fourth year of educational programs
presented by the Toronto Ukrainian Canadian Congress, an increasing number
of students are not only learning but are writing about the Famine-Genocide
for their school assignments. The hope is that this will provide additional
impetus for educators striving to incorporate study of this genocide into
the school curriculum.
A Vision TV production team documented the entire educational program, which
resulted in a 10-minute segment that effectively and movingly reflected the
Famine-Genocide story. This segment was recently televised four times on
Vision TV channels across Canada.
A memorial program on Sunday, November 18 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center
began with a dramatic presentation by Famine survivor Kateryna Scherban,
followed by an ecumenical service concelebrated by members of the Ukrainian
Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox clergy, which was accompanied by the Lysenko
Opera Ensemble. Representing the youth of the community, Meelena and Yvan
Oleksiuk-Baker presented heart-wrenching quotes about the Famine; Oresta
Babiuk recited "Famine 1933"; and the Polyphonia Children's Choir and the
Golden Strings Bandura Ensemble performed solemn musical pieces.
Toronto City Councilor Gloria Lindsay Luby presented statements to the
The guest speaker, Prof. Roman Serbyn from the University of Quebec at
Montreal, who was introduced by Prof. Edward Burstynsky, spoke on the topic
"Famine 1932-1933: Problems of Historical Memory." Prof. Serbyn indicated
that the 1933 Famine was part of a wider campaign against the Ukrainian
nation, destroying its national elite and repopulating emptied Ukrainian
villages with Russian colonists. Thus, the demographic composition of the
Ukrainian countryside was changed by this artificially engineered
Harvard University professor Dr. Terry Martin, who was introduced by Prof.
Olga Andriewsky of Trent University, delivered a significant lecture titled
"Stalin and the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933: New Findings" to a capacity
audience at the University of Toronto.
Based on recently declassified documents, Prof. Martin's lecture outlined
various political and economic parameters that resulted in this tragedy. The
Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, the Center for Russian and East
European Studies, and the Toronto UCC co-sponsored the Annual Ukrainian
(See story on page 9.)
A roundtable discussion titled "Ukraine's Famines: Why and How to Foster
their Memory?" took place on Wednesday, November 21 at the Ukrainian
Canadian Art Foundation. This discussion provided new perspectives on the
historical value of remembering and commemorating the "holodomor." Moderated
by Prof. Ivan Wynnyckyj, its participants included: Prof. Wasyl
Janischewskyj, president of Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation
Center; Valentina Kuryliw, education consultant and author of a teachers'
guide about the Famine; Vasyl Kolomatski, member of UWC Commission on Human
and Civil Rights; Ivan Franko, architect; and Marko Shumelda, University of
On Thursday, November 22, leading off the afternoon session of the Ontario
Provincial Parliament at Queen's Park, Gerard Kennedy, member of the
Provincial Parliament, read a commemorative proclamation which is now part
of the official record. Mr. Kennedy underscored that all need to remember
this unprecedented loss of 7 million to 10 million Ukrainians who were
starved to death by the Soviet regime.
The Toronto UCC's Famine-Genocide Commemorative Committee comprises: Ms.
Dmytryshyn, Lesya Jones, Lesia Korobaylo, Ms. Szkambara and Eugene
Ukrainian Weekly, December 23, 2001, No. 51, Vol. LXIX
For personal and academic use only