The proposed contents and governance of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights has become the subject of significant public discourse in Canada over the past several months. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) established in 1940 continues to democratically represent the interests of the organized Ukrainian Canadian community. We have made our views on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights known, and have done so openly, consistently and with all the civility due to those who hold differing opinions.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has called for an inclusive and equitable Museum that would include both Holocaust and Holodomor galleries. We are surprised by the “Open Letter on the UCCLA, UCC, and the CMHR” dated April 12, 2011 signed by a group of academics and writers (most of whom are from outside of Canada) for their criticism of UCC’s position on the Museum. Their assertion is first and foremost inaccurate. The UCC has never campaigned against a Holocaust gallery in the Museum. We expect that any academic would first review the public statements of the UCC before signing onto a letter intended to defame the reputation of the UCC and its leadership.
Because of its distinct pedagogical value to human rights education, we have asserted that the Holodomor, arguably one of the greatest acts of genocide in 20thcentury European history, should be displayed in a permanent and prominent gallery in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. We do not apologize for taking this position publicly, nor do we withdraw it.
Some of those who signed the ‘Open Letter’ referenced above have made allegations concerning the nature and behaviour of the Ukrainian nationalist movements of the 20thcentury.
We find their remarks prejudicial and without merit as these military units they reference, who fought for the independence of Ukraine against both the Soviets and the Nazis, were formally cleared of war crimes by Canada’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress is on record as having stated that any war criminals or individuals who committed crimes against humanity found in our country should be brought to trial in a Canadian criminal court, regardless of when or where or why they committed a crime and irrespective of who they are by ethnicity, religious confession, ‘race’ or political ideology.
How many died in the Holodomor?
The UCC’s position is that many millions died in the Holodomor. The exact number is less important than the scale and nature of this genocide. We have consistently utilized generally accepted figures from sources like the Council of Europe, United Nations and Government of Ukraine.
According to a recent Council of Europe Report Doc. 12173, 1 March 2010 titled Commemorating the victims of the Great Famine (Holodomor) in the former USSR, it stated that “The real scale of the tragedy is still difficult to assess. For Ukraine only, various researchers estimate the number of victims at between 2 and 7 million.”
The official position of the Government of Ukraine is “The Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine (Holodomor), which took from 7 million to 10 million innocent lives and became a national tragedy for the Ukrainian people.”
The UCC has never compared the sufferings of the Ukrainian people to any other. Sadly, it is the authors of the Open Letter that are twisting UCC’s efforts to ensure a prominent and permanent place for the Holodomor in the CMHR into a competition of suffering.
UCC Media Contact:
Darla PennerTelephone: (204) 942-4267