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Press Release                                                                                     
April 29, 2008

Toronto- To mark the 75th anniversary of the Stalin-era Terror-Famine in Ukraine which claimed over 7 million lives, Canadian Friends of Ukraine have undertaken a number of joint Canada-Ukraine projects to strengthen international awareness of Ukraine's genocide.
Canadian Friends of Ukraine have worked with Canada's Government and Parliament to ensure the passage of Canadian legislation and have endeavored to raise awareness of the genocide by working with government officials and the media.

The Second Reading of Conservative Member of Parliament James Bezan’s Private Members' Bill C-459 which seeks to have the Holodomor recognized as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, took place in the House of Commons during a historic debate on April 29th. Canadian Friends of Ukraine have had the privilege to work with Mr. Bezan, on the drafting of this important legislation entitled “The Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act.” Mr. Bezan, MP for Selkirk-Interlake (Manitoba), is of Ukrainian descent.
James Bezan, Stefan Horlatsch, Margareta Shpir, Lisa ShymkoMember of Parliament James Bezan (second from right) meets with representatives of Canadian Friends of Ukraine, Stefan Horlatsch, Margareta Shpir, and Lisa Shymko.

Recently, Stefan Horlatsch, a Holodomor survivor, together with fellow members of the Canadian Friends of Ukraine executive, Margareta Shpir and Lisa Shymko, met with several Canadian parliamentarians to urge all-party support for this legislation. Representatives of Canadian Friends of Ukraine also had the opportunity to speak with Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, the Hon. Jason Kenney, on Parliament Hill. Secretary of State Kenney received a copy of the CFU’s Government Brief on the Holodomor, presented earlier to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier. The CFU has also encouraged the Canadian government to support multilateral efforts at the UN to have the Holodomor recognized as an act of genocide.

Canadian Friends of Ukraine are supporting several genocide-awareness projects in Canada, including the "Walk for a World Without Genocide" initiative undertaken by Holodomor survivor, Stefan Horlatsch. Born in 1921 in the Zaporizhia region of Ukraine, and having lost 11 members of his family during the terror-famine, Mr. Horlatsch is the initiator of a symbolic walk across major Canadian cities to raise public awareness of the Ukrainian Terror-Famine.

Ironically, while the tragedy of the Ukrainian genocide is discussed openly in North America and Europe, the psychological fear imposed by the Stalinist terror has meant that, 75 year after this tragedy, survivors of the forced famine in Ukraine continue to be afraid to discuss their experiences.
For this reason, Canadian Friends of Ukraine have launched three genocide awareness projects in Ukraine.
Student Interviews with Holodomor Survivors is a CFU program undertaken in selected provinces (oblasts) across Ukraine in which secondary school and university students will conduct interviews with family members who witnessed the Famine-Terror of 1932-33. Participants are required to submit their written interviews in digital format along with photographs and biographical information about the Holodomor survivor being interviewed. Supplementary audio and video documentation will also be collected.
A three-person jury in each province will judge submissions made in their respective provinces. All participants will receive a specially cast Ukraine Famine-Genocide memorial lapel pin and competition certificate. In August 2008, the competition finalists will travel to Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, where the official announcement and award presentation will take place. Finalists will receive a monetary prize, Award Certificate, laureate gift and multi-media prize package.

Canadian Friends of Ukraine plan to compile and publish the genocide survivor interviews, making them available in Canada and Ukraine to institutions dedicated to the study and prevention of genocide. The project's Honorary Chair is Jurij Darewych.

Canadian Friends of Ukraine’s second project is the International Book Exhibition on the Famine-Terror. CFU has partnered with the National Parliamentary Library of Ukraine in Kyiv as well as several NGO’s to present a unique exhibition dedicated to Ukraine's Terror-Famine. The exposition will showcase books and journals printed outside Ukraine and published in various languages throughout the Diaspora. Ukraine's parliamentarians, government officials, foreign diplomats, historians, journalists, and human rights activists will participate in the official opening of the exhibit.

The official opening will take place in late August 2008 to coincide with the awards ceremony honoring the winners of the Holodomor Survivors Student Interview Competition. The Holodomor book exhibition is chaired by Lisa Shymko.

Canadian Friends of Ukraine have also initiated a Genocide Curriculum Development Project. This unique educational pilot project is entitled: "The Symbolism of Death: The Holodomor through the prism of art and culture." The project will be implemented in Ukraine's eastern and northern provinces, as well as the Crimea region of Ukraine, where decades of Russification and Stalinist propaganda sought to deny the truth about the Soviet state's complicity in the anti-Ukrainian genocidal policies of the former Soviet regime. The curriculum will also be utilized by educators for summer youth-outreach programs.

The curriculum will also be applied in Canada in several Ukrainian-language schools and heritage language programs. The approach taken by this curriculum development project is unique because it will address the issue of the Terror-Famine through the prism of an Art and Culture course, utilizing varied historical sources in literature and fine art, such as poetry, prose, paintings, drawings, posters, and placards. Teacher training and preparation for implementing this curriculum development project will begin in the summer of 2008. The project is chaired by Margareta Shpir.

The genocide awareness projects undertaken by Canadian Friends of Ukraine are made possible through the support of individual Canadian donors. Donations to projects promoting public awareness of the Terror-Famine, may be forwarded to: Canadian Friends of Ukraine, 620 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5S 2H4. Please indicate "CFU  Famine-Genocide Projects" on your cheque. For additional information, call (416) 964-6644 or visit our website:
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