By Jennifer Weymark, Archivist
On Monday, July 17th the Oshawa Museum will be hosting the Holodomor National Awareness Tour mobile classroom exhibit. The state-of-the-art mobile classroom will be stopped in Lakeview Park to allow members of the community to learn more about this dark time in world history.
What is the Holodomor? The word Holodomor refers to the genocide of Ukrainian citizens by forced starvation between 1932 and 1933. During this period, Ukrainian villages were forced to provide mass quantities of grain to the Soviet State. The quotas were set so high that there was nothing left for those who lived in the villages. When villages were no longer to meet the quotas, they were fined. The fines took the form of confiscating meat and potatoes, leaving the villagers with nothing for themselves. These policies resulted in the death of millions of Ukrainians as they were not permitted to leave the country and were forced to remain to starve to death. It has been referred to as a “man-made famine” and is considered a response by Stalin to a growing democratic movement amongst Ukrainians.
It has been difficult to determine just how many Ukrainians died in the period between 1932 and 1933; however, estimates have placed the number at 3.3 million. Some scholars feel that number is low.
When the Holodomor National Awareness Tour stopped in Ottawa in November 2016, the Honourable Peter Kent noted that Canada became one of the first countries to officially recognize the Holodomor as genocide. In May 2008 the Federal Government, along with the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, proclaimed the fourth Saturday of each November to be Holodomor Remembrance Day. It has been a long struggle for Ukrainian Canadians to have this dark period in their history recognized and remembered. The mobile exhibit is part of the work being done by members of the Ukrainian community.
Oshawa is home to a large Ukrainian community. By the start of WWII the Ukrainian community in Oshawa had already been established for forty years. Newspaper articles from 1928 note that there were more than 1000 Ukrainians living in Oshawa and had become an important part of the community as a whole. Census data collected in 1941 shows that that number had grown to over 1600. The largest influx of Ukrainian immigrants came after WWII, when many arrived in Oshawa as Displaced Persons.
This exhibit highlights that history is filled with difficult stories to tell but that each story is important and can help us learn more about how the past has shaped our lives today. Learn more about the Holodomor on Monday, July 17 when the Holodomor National Awareness Tour stops in Lakeview Park.