[ SkipToMainMenu ]

Statement on the Commemoration of Holodomor


Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Colleagues, last Friday, I was privileged to take part in an event commemorating the 85th Holodomor genocide.

Hosted by Sisler High School in Winnipeg , this annual commemoration event began in 2009 under the leadership of teacher Orysya Petryshyn, and it has been held every year since.

As you know, Holodomor was a horrific tragedy, a genocide of the Ukrainian people by starvation carried out by Joseph Stalin in 1932 and 1933. Many of my relatives were among the millions of people who died in that genocide.

Today, colleagues, I would like to read a poem commemorating Holodomor, which was written in 2009 by Mila Panaskevich  and recited by her at the Sisler High Holodomor commemoration on Friday. Mila dedicated this poem to her grandmother, Hanna Panasyuk, who was a Holodomor survivor. It is called the “Unspoken Truth,” by Mila Panaskevich.

The hardship of their tragic past, was always left untold

Controlled by one man Joseph Stalin, all were afraid to let the truth unfold.

Millions were imprisoned, innocent people in Ukraine

For Stalin had ordered the whole nation to be part of his killing game.

One decision of this man let people suffer and starve in 1932

No choice to leave, to flee, get away, strength and bravery in people was all that was left to do.

Among these people  was my grandma, a free-spirited little girl.

A ten-year-old wanting to know: who would do such a bad thing in this world?

Not the only one to misunderstand why it must be this way,

Why innocent lives were taken until there were none to take away.

To eliminate the people was the Soviet party’s goal,

To erase their culture, belief, ideas, that gave the Ukrainian nation its soul.

Some did live through this tragedy that ended in 1933,

But they were not allowed to share their story in the times of the Soviet Union regime.

And in the recent years the world has come to know,

That the Holodomor, not only a mass murder, but a genocide was grown.

Many stories already gone with the people that were left behind,

But we can now commemorate those that suffered the horrid times.

We will remember all the children, all the hard-working people we’ll cherish.

We will remember all the innocent lives that weren’t ever meant to perish.

We will let our knowledge help us to prevent similar tragedies in our world,

For all we need to peace to keep us sustained and not in peril.


Thank you.


Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jlascar/8600792013

Back to: Speeches