Ukrainian News | 24Jan2008 | Editorial
Page 06

Holodomor education must be compulsory

Ukrainian Canadians in every province should press for inclusion

The Toronto District School Board's decision to leave the Holodomor out of the three major focus points of its new "Genocide: Historical and Contemporary Implications" curriculum for Grade 11 students is misguided and should be immediately rectified.

TDSB spokesperson Nadine Segal's explanation that students will be "expected" to study "other examples of genocide", which is the category that the Holodomor has been lumped into by the board, through "independent study work" is unacceptable.

As Orest Steciw, Co-ordinator of Holodomor Projects for the League of Ukrainian Canadians and the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women, rightfully points out "independent study" implies "optional", and "optional" means the Holodomor won't be studied by students unless the teacher insists on it.

We also find the explanation of why the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and the Rwandan genocide were prioritized, while the Holodomor was left out, rather hollow.

First of all, let's get one thing straight. With an estimated seven to 10 million victims, the Holodomor was the biggest mass murder in European history. The sheer massive scope of this genocide makes it crucial that its study be made mandatory.

Furthermore, if the TDSB wants to use the euphemism of "comparative study" in noting the contemporary implications of the Holocaust in Rwanda, it should be pointed out that there is a very definite contemporary implication of the Holodomor. Genocide by starvation is happening today in Darfur.

We must also point out that while awareness of the Holocaust is very widespread, awareness of the Holodomor is woefully minimal. The board's own decision not to include the Holodomor as one of its focal points is, in itself, a glaring example of the general lack of awareness about the Holodomor. We must emphasize that in pointing out the levels of awareness we are not by any means suggesting that the Holocaust should not be studied. What we are saying, however, is that the lack of general awareness about the Holodomor makes it all the more imperative that it too be studied and that this study be made compulsory.

Members of Toronto's Ukrainian community should make it clear to their elected trustees that the Holodomor should be included as a compulsory component of its genocide program. Members of our community across Ontario should also press this issue with the Ministry of Education. The same applies to Ukrainian Canadians in every province -- especially our community in Western Canada, which, with its large proportion of Canadians of Ukrainian origin and history of settlement, has to take the lead in this initiative.

The fact that we are now commemorating the 75th anniversary of this genocide makes it all the more pressing that we demand the compulsory teaching about the Holodomor in our schools -- and that we demand it now!

As Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko recently stated:
"The Holodomor was an act of genocide designed to suppress the Ukrainian nation. The fact that it failed and Ukraine today exists as a proud and independent nation does nothing to lessen the gravity of this crime. Nor does it acquit us of the moral responsibility to acknowledge what was done. On the 75th anniversary, we owe it to the victims of the Holodomor and other genocides to be truthful in facing up to the past."