B.C. officially recognizes the annual day of remembrance for Ukraine’s Holodomor, thanks to a personal effort from B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.
Weaver gained unanimous support Tuesday for his private member’s bill designating the fourth Saturday of November as Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day. The bill was a collaboration with Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston, minister of jobs, trade and technology, who tabled a similar bill in 2009. Kootenay East B.C. Liberal MLA Tom Shypitka also took part in the effort, along with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare, whose tourism ministry is responsible for recognition days.
Holodomor is the Ukrainian word meaning “death by hunger” that resulted from Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s brutal suppression of Ukrainian dissidents. The deliberately organized famine killed an between three and four million Ukrainians from 1932 to 1933, and the program was covered up for decades by Soviet authorities.
“My grandfather and his family were survivors of the Holodomor,” Weaver told the B.C. legislature. “He and his wife, together with my mother and her siblings, made their way to Canada after the Second World War. She told me stories of living in a refugee camp in southern Europe and a chicken coop in France as they made their way to safety.”
B.C. has long marked the occasion, which was created by federal legislation, but had no official recognition of its own.
“By formally commemorating Holodomor Memorial Day, we take a firm stance alongside the people of Ukraine and all their descendants by recognizing this dark period in world history,” Shypitka said.