Visit to Montreal by Holodomor Museum Director Olesia Stasiuk of Kyiv

Viewing Montreal documents are Olesia Stasiuk, Director Holodomor museum in Kyiv, Volodomyr Hayduk (front) with Prof. Roman Serbyn, Yurij Luhovy, Zorianna Hrycenko-Luhova (back). Stepan Stasiuk

Volodymyr Hayduk, Zorianna Hrycenko for NP-UN, Montreal.

Montreal was the final stop for Olesia Stasiuk, the director of the National Holodomor Museum of Kyiv’s cross-Canada presentation regarding its Holodomor museum. Her two-day visit to Montreal was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) Montreal branch. Olesia Stasiuk arrived from Ottawa following her presentation there, together with Irka Balan of Winnipeg, vice-chair of UCC National Holodomor Awareness Committee and Olesia Stasiuk’s husband, Stepan Stasiuk.

On May 3, Olesia Stasiuk had two meetings in Montreal before her departure to Kyiv, both held at the Ukrainian Youth Centre “Dim Molodi”. The first, a round-table discussion, with members of the Montreal community that have been working on aspects of the famine genocide over forty years in Montreal. Each of the sixteen participants touched upon their efforts and projects undertaken to help further Famine-Genocide understanding and awareness. This gave Olesia Stasiuk an opportunity to learn first-hand about the work in the diaspora. Speaking at this meeting, Irka Balan, who accompanied the Museum Director Olesia Stasiuk and helped coordinate her visit, gave a summary of Stasiuk’s many discussions and presentations across Canada. O. Stasiuk’s visit to Canada in April coincided with the month designated for international genocide awareness and action against genocide. Ms. Balan stressed how beneficial this visit was to both Olesia Stasiuk and to our many communities. Closer co-operation and coordination between Canada and Ukraine has been strengthened in the area of Holodomor-Genocide work in the future.

The round-table meeting was followed by a second meeting in the evening, with the general public. Zorianna Hrycenko-Luhova, head of UCC-Montreal’s Holodomor organizing committee, gave opening-welcome remarks. The evening was chaired by Prof. Roman Serbyn, who began with brief remarks emphasizing how crucial it is to place the Holodomor-genocide in a broader context, that of the multi-pronged government policy of genocide conducted against the Ukrainian nation over the decades, using Raphael Lemkin’s definition. Lemkin initiated the United Nation’s Genocide Convention.

Olesia’s Stasiuk’s informative and powerful powerpoint presentation was preceded by a 13min film on the Holodomor, made together with the Canadian Museum for Human rights in Winnipeg and the National Holodomor Museum in Kyiv. This film set the tone for her talk that followed. Ms. Stasiuk outlined current expansion plans for Kyiv’s Holodomor museum, and continued research on the 1932-33 Famine-Genocide. She mentioned that with the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine against the Russian invasion, valuable archives that were uncovered about the Holodomor prior to the war were targeted and destroyed. Regarding statistics, Ms. Stasiuk mentioned that researchers in Ukraine continue to uncover new documents, leading them to discard the lower figure of 4 million that perished in the famine-genocide, cited by some. She also stated, regarding recent polling conducted about increased Holodomor awareness throughout Ukraine, ironically, eastern Ukraine where the Holodomor took place, has the lowest percentage of the population compared to all areas in Ukraine, that believe the famine was an act of genocide. A question and answer period followed. Thank you gifts were presented on behalf of UCC-Montreal, by Olena Kulishova and Hryhorij Kowryha, whose family members were victims in the Holodomor.

The following day, Olesia Stasiuk was shown extensive files organized by Volodymyr Hayduk regarding major activities and projects undertaken in Montreal on the Holodomor. This included information on the First International Symposium on the 1933 Famine held in Montreal in 1983 with tapes of these speakers currently being saved and restored, the successful re-publishing in Montreal of an early book on Holodomor by Ewande Ammende, the numerous feature and educational documentary films produced by Yurij Luhovy on the Famine-Genocide, interviews filmed in early 1980’s with Montreal survivors, information on UCC-Montreal ‘s work regarding the Quebec Government unanimously recognizing Holodomor as Genocide, and more. Montreal was at the forefront generating public awareness.

UCC-Montreal organizing committee also included Volodymyr Hayduk, Yurij Luhovy, Prof. Roman Serbyn, Maria Surzycia, Marika Putko, Olena Kulishova, Hryhorij Kowryha, Wolodymyr Zelenko, Valia Hayduk. President of UCC-Montreal was Halia Holowka.

The two-day visit was sponsored by Caisse Populaire Desjardins Ukrainienne and Ukrainian National Federation-Montreal Branch, and supported by Ukrainian Time radio and Trembita radio programs. Numerous projects are underway this year in Montreal and worldwide to mark the 85th commemoration of the Famine-Genocide.

The newly elected president for 2018-2019 at UCC-Montreal’s Annual General Meeting held June 2, is Very Reverend Dr. Ihor Kutash. To contact Montreal branch call 514 945 7162.