By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
A new exhibit coming to Oshawa will provide education on one of the darkest periods in Ukrainian history.
On Monday, July 17, the Oshawa Museum will host the Holodomor National Awareness Tour mobile classroom exhibit at Lakeview Park.
According to a news release from the museum, the word “Holodomor” refers to the genocide of Ukrainian citizens by forced starvation between 1932 and 1933.
Due to a lack of records, it has been difficult to determine just how many Ukrainians died during the genocide, with historical estimates ranging between two to 12 million deaths.
At the time, Ukrainian villages were forced to provide mass quantities of grain to the Soviet Union. Once the grain quotas dried up, the villages were fined in the form of confiscation of meat and potatoes, leaving the Ukrainians to starve.
The Holodomor has been referred to as a “man-made famine” and is considered by some historians as a response by Joseph Stalin to a growing democratic movement amongst Ukrainians.
The mobile classroom located inside a 40-ft. RV offers ‘an innovative learning experience about social justice, human rights, and values in relation to this genocide that led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians’, according to the tour’s website.
Jennifer Weymark, archivist for the Oshawa Museum says the tour will have traveled across country before arriving in Oshawa.
“They originally approached the city but it was determined partnering with the museum might be a better fit,” Weymark said.
The tour is a project of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, supported by the federal government, and provincial governments of Ontario and Manitoba.
Weymark said in 2008, Canada became one of the first countries in the world to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide.
Weymark believes this exhibit will be of great relevance in Oshawa as there is a very significant Ukraine community in the city.
Most Ukrainian immigration to Oshawa took place prior to the First World War and after the Second World War.
According to the files of the Oshawa Community Archives, the first Ukrainian national documented to arrive in Oshawa was Julian Kalynko in 1907, with many others following suit.
Census data from 1941 indicates 1,657 of Oshawa’s then population of 26,813 reported their race origin as Ukrainian, ranking only behind English, Irish and Scottish.
By 1950, that figure has increased to almost 2,500.
Over time, the Ukrainian population has fluctuated, but Weymark says, “the community is still very active in the community.”
For more information on the tour, visit https://www.holodomortour.ca