By JEREMY APPEL on April 16, 2019.
The Holodomor National Awareness Tour bus stopped in Medicine Hat on Monday, giving high school students at Monsignor McCoy the opportunity to learn about one of the lesser-known atrocities of the 20th century.
The tour is put on by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and features the Holodomor Mobile Classroom, which allows people across the country to learn about the man-made famine that caused somewhere from 4 million to 14 million deaths.
Deanna Burzminski called it a “privilege” to have her Grade 11 and 12 students able to learn about this dark moment in history.
The Grade 11s learned about Holodomor in the context of genocides and how they can occur, while the Grade 12s incorporated it into their study of dictatorship and what can happen when people lose their rights and freedoms.
“When we think of the scope of this genocide, but how little was known about it and the timespan in which this genocide actually occurred, it’s really important to have awareness out there,” she said.
“The more that we can talk about genocides that are lesser-known, the more people have a critical eye, and realize that being informed and understanding that these are still happening worldwide , and that we know that we have a voice as citizens.”
Grade 12 student Alexander Davies says he learned not only about the history of the Holodomor, but what can be done to prevent future atrocities of this nature.
“We have to truly focus on human rights and really focus on the individuality of people,” said Davies.
Kevin Viaene, the exhibit manager and driver since the project’s 2015 inception, said the Holodomor was swept under the rug when it occurred because of our country’s alliance at the time with the perpetrators – the Soviet Union.
“It’s important to learn about this because you can see the politics that go into sometimes our education system and the information that we get or don’t get,” he said.
Alexi Marchel, the tour’s class learning facilitator, said beyond educating students about the horrors of Holodomor, the purpose of their project is to teach the kids to raise their voices against similar atrocities in the present and future.
“Genocides, whether you study this one, the Holocaust or Rwanda, are man-made,” she said. “We want them to know that if they’re man-made, they’re preventable.”