THUNDER BAY — A spokesperson for the city's Ukrainian community is pleased with Ontario's decision to introduce mandatory education about the Holodomor famine to the high school curriculum.
Education minister Stephen Lecce announced Tuesday that, starting in 2025, Grade 10 history students will learn how the Holodomor resulted from "totalitarian policies of the communist Soviet Union leading to a man-made famine in Ukraine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1932-33."
Even though it happened almost a century ago, Walter Warywoda, past president of the League of Ukrainian Canadians' Thunder Bay chapter, said Ontario students need to know what happened because there are parallels today.
"It was an attempt by a political ideology, the Stalinist regime, to try to eliminate Ukrainians by the most evil method, starving people to death. So it's important that students learn that when ideologies are extremist, they become very dangerous."
Referring to Russia's war on Ukraine, Warywoda said "the same evil that was perpetrated 90 years ago is continuing today. It's the same thing. They're trying to eliminate the existence of the Ukrainian nation, language, culture, et cetera. The methods are different but the evil is the same."
The Holodomor has been recognized by 23 countries, including Canada and the U.S., as genocide against the Ukrainian people.
"The rise of extremism, including Communism and Marxism, are direct threats to our democracy, social cohesion and values as Canadians...This learning will help ensure students are never bystanders in the face of such horrors," Lecce stated.
Ontario is also providing the Canada-Ukraine Foundation with $400,000 to support a Holodomor National Awareness Tour and a mobile classroom that travels to schools across the province to engage students in Grades 6 to 12 through experiential learning directly linked to the school curriculum.
The mobile unit has visited Thunder Bay schools in the past.