(Memorial to Holodomor victims in Kyiv, Ukraine/Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Victoria branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is commemorating the 85th anniversary of the Ukrainian genocide or “Holodomor” with a candle-lighting ceremony in Centennial Square.

The event will feature talks given by prominent local authorities, like Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, and UVic professor of Ukrainian history Dr. Serhy Yekelchyk. BC Premier John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver have also been invited to attend.

According to Anna Vyshnevska, a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Victoria branch, a remembrance event is hosted every year at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre on Douglas St.

This year, the group will be joining the International community in a candle-lighting ceremony that is “dedicated to the children who did not return to their school desks on 1 September 1933,” according to the website.

What is the Ukrainian Holodomor?

The Ukrainian Holodomor was a catastrophic famine in the 1930s whose effects were exacerbated by genocidal policies undertaken by Stalin’s regime to punish Ukrainians who resisted attempts at collectivization. This punishment resulted in the deaths of millions of people.

“Ukrainians have always remembered the Holodomor, even if it could not be commemorated openly until Ukraine’s independence in 1991, because the Soviet Union had denied that the famine ever occurred,” says Dr. Yekelchyk.

“The Ukrainian Canadian community spearheaded the worldwide drive to acknowledge the genocidal nature of this state-engineered famine. In the last decade, lighting candles in the windows and on major squares became a popular commemorative ritual in Ukraine and among the Ukrainian abroad.”

While Canada is one of the 17 countries in the world that recognizes the Holodomor as an act of genocide perpetrated by the Soviet Union, British Columbia is currently the only province that does not recognize the events of 1933 as a genocide.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony free-of-charge, listen to what the speakers have to say, and encourage the provincial government to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.

Commemoration of the Ukrainian Holodomor

  • When: Sunday, November 25th, 5 p.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Where: Centennial Square