Valentina Noseworthy for New Pathway – Ukrainian News, Winnipeg.
This year Ukrainians in Manitoba and worldwide are marking the 85th anniversary of the 1932-33 Famine-Genocide (Holodomor) in Soviet Ukraine. Reaching out to the French-speaking community of Manitoba to mark this tragedy, the Winnipeg premiere of the 75min French language feature documentary film “Génocide d’une Nation”, which exposes Moscow’s policy of genocide against the Ukrainian nation, was presented by the University of St. Boniface Cinema Club on November 8, at the University of Saint-Boniface. Montreal filmmaker, Yurij Luhovy, member of the Academy of Canadian Film and Television and director of “Génocide d’une Nation” was in attendance.
Engineered by Josef Stalin and his regime, millions of Ukrainians were deliberately starved to death in one the greatest human tragedies of the 20th century.
Welcome remarks were by Stéphane Oystryk of the Communications Department, University of St. Boniface, followed by remarks also in French by Prof. Orest Cap of the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba – a descendant of Holodomor survivors.
Yurij Luhovy then spoke on the making of the documentary, filmed in the original areas of the famine-genocide in eastern Ukraine. The film is based on testimonies of survivors, commentaries by historians, declassified Soviet archival documents and rare historical footage. He pointed out, these same areas are currently invaded by Russia, where an ongoing war has lasted for over four years. Much of the most recent archival documents found on Holodomor prior to the war, once again, are being targeted and destroyed.
The narrator of “Génocide d’une Nation“ is internationally renowned Quebec actor Geneviève Bujold. She was recorded in Malibu, California, where she currently resides. Prior to receiving the French-language script of the documentary, the actress was surprised she never heard of the Famine-genocide. Voice-overs for the documentary are by Quebec actors Vincent Davy and Louise Latraverse. The English language version, “Genocide Revealed”, won 12 international awards, including Best Historical Film.
Special guests at the premiere were Claudine Lupien, Vice-Dean of Faculty of Education, St. Boniface University, and His Eminence Metropolitan Yurij (Kalischuk) of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, originally from Montreal, who speaks fluent French. A reception organized by Irka Balan followed the screening.
The premiere of the French-language documentary was organized by Valentina Noseworthy of the Manitoba Department of Education, Irka Balan vice chair of UCC National Holodomor Awareness Committee and Prof. Orest Cap – all three descendants of Holodomor survivors. The event was sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Manitoba Provincial Council, and the University of St. Boniface (founded in 1818).
An article about the premiere appeared in La Liberté, Manitoba’s French language paper established in 1913. Nearly 10% of Manitobans are bi-lingual (French-English), with the majority living in Winnipeg and surrounding area. The film screening was the first major collaboration in Winnipeg between the francophone and Ukrainian community.
On the afternoon of the premiere, at the invitation of Valentina Noseworthy, Consultant, Manitoba Education and Training, Yurij Luhovy took part in a Pedagogical Day titled “Teaching Social Justice and Human Rights through Holodomor Education” at the Manitoba Department of Education. Luhovy’s Educational version (26 mins) of “Genocide Revealed” was included in the program, followed by a question period with the director. Among Winnipeg teachers present were Jeff Kozak of Springfield Middle School, and Orysya Petryshyn of Sisler High School.
On May 27, 2008, the Canadian Parliament recognized the famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine as genocide; the Province of Manitoba recognized the famine as genocide with the assent of Bill 217 on June 12, 2008, and on June 10, 2010, the National Assembly of Quebec unanimously recognized the 1932-1933 famine as genocide.
Yurij Luhovy’s documentary is a stark reminder of the necessity to safeguard one’s freedom and human rights and bring public awareness to the Holodomor-Genocide.