A Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Commemoration and candlelight vigil will be held to honour those who died in Stalin-era genocide.
The Victoria branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress will sponsor a commemoration service at Christ Church Cathedral on Nov. 26.
The service will include a candlelight vigil at 4:15 p.m., on the south lawn of the cathedral, honouring over 3.9 million people who died in a man-made famine from 1932-1933.
As an important historical event for the Ukrainian community, the Holodomore Commemoration will include Ukrainian songs, performed by two Victoria-based Ukrainian choirs, as well as speeches.
“We must never forget what happened, particularly in light of the war going on in Ukraine today,” said co-organizer Lesia Kuzyk. “For us, this commemoration is an opportunity to not only memorialize the Holodomore but also to acknowledge what’s going on in Ukraine right now. It’s an opportunity to share the story, the history of Ukraine.”
Holodomore Memorial Day, which was officially recognized by the B.C. government in 2019, occurs annually on the fourth Saturday of November.
“For the Ukrainian community at this time in the war, with people newly arrived to Victoria, bringing the Ukrainian community together is, I think, very important for many reasons,” Kuzyk said. “One is just connection and for people to know we recognize the hardships that they are enduring and that their parents and grandparents endured in Ukraine. Secondly, it’s an opportunity for Ukrainians to come together and find fellowship.”
The word itself means “death by hunger” in Ukrainian and the famine created and covered up by the Soviet government is considered a genocide of Ukrainian people.
Joseph Stalin used famine as a tool to suppress dissidents, wiping out 13.3 per cent of the Ukrainian population at the time.
Kuzyk said the service will be less of a performance and more of an opportunity to educate people on Ukrainian history and culture.
“This program that we’ve put together is very, very thoughtful,” Kuzyk said.
Donations for the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, which provides aid to Ukraine, will be accepted at the door.
For those unable to attend in-person, the service can be live-streamed at christchurchcathedral.bc.ca/live.
For more information visit: cufoundation.ca.