The First Holodomor Museum in Canada
On Sunday, November 20, 2008, the faithful of the Ukrainian Orthodox parish of St. Vladimir in Hamilton along with their parish priest Rt. Rev. Mitred Archpriest Wasyl' Makarenko in the presence of survivors of the Holdomor-Genocide, recognized the official opening of the first Holodomor Museum in Canada. Located in the Metropolitan Wasyly Learning Centre adjacent to the parish, participants were joined by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eizenberger, M.P. David Christopherson, Citizenship Judge and former Mayor of Hamilton Robert Morrow, members of the community at large and local media.
Following the Divine Liturgy that morning, a tearful Memorial service was held in remembrance of the victims of the Holodomor. Following the Panachyda, the attendees gathered in the Church auditorium for a solemn commemorative program led by Orysia Sushko, chair of the Holodomor Museum Committee, and acting president of the parish council in the absence of president John Jurychuk. To begin the program, Oleksij Ohienko, one of the witnesses of the Holodomor silently went around to each of the 17 tables in the room, and lit the candle in the centre of each table. The Church choir, under the direction of Bohdan Radesch, sang the Lord's Prayer, after which Fr. Wasyl' blessed the symbolic lunch of broth and a small piece of bread. Following this, Orysia Sushko briefly and emphatically re-stated some of the horrifying facts about the Holodomor, and the rationale behind establishing the Museum. She then invited Anastasia Uhreniuk, a student of the Wm. Sarchuk Ukrainian School, and Wasyl Dudka, a Holodomor witness, to the podium to present their poetry dedicated to the Holodomor. A poignant song, 'Sorrow Unspeakable', composed by Borys Homzyna for the 50th anniversary of the Holodomor, was then sung by the Ukrainian Women's Association of Canada, Lesya Ukrainka Branch's Women's Choir, conducted by Oksana Sushko.
Mayor Fred Eizenberger welcomed all and congratulated the parish on the establishment of the Museum, underlining the importance of remembering these past crimes against mankind. In his comments, MP David Christopherson also highlighted the importance of the Museum as a vital educational tool, not only for our children but for all Canadian citizens. Final comments were offered by former Hamilton Mayor Robert Morrow who stressed the importance of informing the world of this horrific time in history, and the importance of the Museum for future generations. Following these remarks, Fr. Wasyl' presented his vision of the newly established Holodomor Museum, urging the Ukrainian community to ensure that the world learns about this tragedy. Our youth and future generations must know and remember this act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, that senselessly took the lives of millions, our own relatives among them.
The program concluded with expressions of gratitude to all who assisted in the establishment of the Museum. Special thanks was expressed to Marcello Perri and Maria Ramirez, of Italian and Spanish heritage, who, having understood the importance of the Museum, donated the professional design services of their firm MDR Design Consultants. In the same spirit, Joe Kubina of Athens Printing was thanked for his contribution of printing the 34 large colour panels that comprise the exhibit. Following the concluding prayer, the congregation made their way over to the Metropolitan Wasyly Learning Centre where Holodomor witness Halyna Krupicki and Mayor Eizenberger cut the ribbon to the entrance of the Museum. They were the first to enter, followed by the other Holodomor witnesses, and finally members of the congregation who were participants of this commemoration and official opening.
This first in Canada Holodomor Museum will be a beacon of remembrance to honour the victims of the Holodomor-Genocide, and to educate the world at large about this disgraceful human tragedy.
May their memory be eternal!