ePoshta | 22Nov2009 | Bohdan Kohut

Holodomor awareness in schools
Ukrainian Professional Teachers Association of Ontario Newsletter, November 2009

Friday November 27, 2009 has been designated Holodomor Memorial Day in all Toronto District School Board schools. Superintendent Christopher Usih has sent out to principals an announcement, which is to be read that morning in all schools.

If you teach in a TDSB school, offer your help with preparations for this Memorial event in your school and ensure that your principal follows the Board directive and that the announcement is read over the PA.

Here is the full text of the announcement:

Announcement for Toronto District School Board schools to commemorate the Ukrainian Genocide - the Holdomor Friday, November 27, 2009.

Good Morning.

A great many genocides and other terrible atrocities occurred during the twentieth century.

Today, we commemorate the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Famine/Genocide of the 1930s. The word "Holodomor" means murder by starvation. Between five and ten million men, women and children starved to death in Ukraine during the artificial famine created by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Stalin destroyed the Ukrainian church; he deliberately murdered or deported Ukrainian intellectuals, educational, cultural and religious leaders and finally wiped out the independent Ukrainian farmers. Through a harsh policy of collectivization, all privately owned land was confiscated and Ukrainian farmers were forced to work on collective farms.

Secret Police and Red Army units were sent to villages to gather the impossibly high grain quotas set by the Communist regime. They collected not only the grain but also all the food found in homes of villagers. The Soviet police and soldiers executed anyone who tried to obtain food and punished those who attempted to flee. Fully one quarter of the Ukrainian population starved to death.

This genocide is unique in that food was used as a weapon to destroy the population of a country. Few accounts of the Ukrainian Genocide ever reached the West; reports that filtered through were ridiculed or ignored. The Soviet government repeatedly denied the existence of any famine in Ukraine as millions were dying.

Today, we commemorate the 76th Anniversary of this tragic event. The Toronto District School Board, along with the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the Ukrainian Canadian community want all of us to remember this terrible genocide in a hope that similar events will not be allowed to happen in the future.

There are just too many to forget.