Members of the Castlegar Ukrainian-Canadian community and their supporters gathered at Castlegar City Hall on Nov. 26 to mark Holodomor Memorial Day.
Holodomor (death by hunger in Ukrainian) is the day set aside to remember victims of the 1932-1933 Soviet-made famine in Ukraine that killed millions of people.
The Holodomor is also known as the Terror Famine as Joseph Stalin’s totalitarian regime inflicted a famine-genocide on the people of Ukraine by stealing their land, seizing their crops and prohibiting people from leaving their communities.
“The Soviet Union’s mass starvation of the Ukrainian people was a heinous attempt to suppress the nation’s culture and their dream of being an independent and free country. The impacts of Holodomor are still felt today,” said the B.C. government in a Nov. 26 release.
“On this solemn day, we come together to remember the victims and recognize the injustice of their suffering. We do so in an uncertain global landscape, where Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens lives, freedom and democracy.”
Holodomor was first recognized by Canada in 2008 when the federal government declared the famine an act of genocide and set aside a memorial day.
Olga Hallborg, Stepan Hevak, and Daryna Bukach, members of the local Ukrainian-Canadian community, joined together to say, “This year, as Ukrainians once again suffer from Russian aggression and attempts to colonize their motherland, we need to look at the Holodomor not only through a historical lens, but also through a contemporary one.”
“If Russia stops its unprovoked and unjustified genocidal attacks on Ukraine there will be no war, but if Ukrainians stop defending their motherland — there will be no Ukraine,” says Hallborg, who was one of the organizers of the gathering. “We must ensure that Russia never again is able to demonstrate aggression to Ukraine or any other country in the world.”
Supporters at the gathering also condemned the acts of disinformation about the war spread by Russia around the world, specifically about the “collective West and NATO being responsible for provoking Putin.”
Former West Kootenay MP Alex Atamanenko attended the event and shared about his own family’s experiences during the Ukraine famine.
He said there are “chauvinistic extremist elements in today’s Russian society that do not believe the Ukrainian nation has a right to exist.”
“The current brutal invasion is not about NATO,” says Atamenenko. “It is about the total annihilation of Ukraine as a free and democratic country.”
In his view, the West must continue to provide assistance to Ukraine, including state-of-the-art weapons, in order to stop the needless suffering of innocent civilians.
“We need to do all we possibly can to support a free and independent Ukraine,” says Atamanenko.