“International Forum: My People Will Live Forever” Kyiv, Ukraine, November 22, 2008
President Yuschenko, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to add the voice of the Government and people of Canada to this sombre commemoration of one of the great crimes of human history.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked me to convey to you, Mr. President, and to the Ukrainian people, the profound sense of solidarity that the Canadian and Ukrainian peoples have always shared.
At the beginning of this 75th anniversary of Holodomor, Prime Minister Harper said the following:
"Rarely did dogma and dictatorship combine to more murderous effect than in the regime of the communist tyrant Josef Stalin. We remember and honour those Ukrainians who suffered horribly during his savage reign…”
“The honest and hard-working people who tilled the rich soil of Eastern Europe successfully for centuries were forced to farm for the Soviet state. By crushing private ownership, initiative, and dignity, collectivization destroyed most of their agricultural production, and the soviets stole the rest.”
“The result was one of the worst famines that the world has ever known, when millions of men, women, and children - mostly Ukrainians, but also some Kazakhs and Russians - died of starvation. Those who refused to yield were slaughtered.”
Prime Minister Harper continued:
“...In remembering these events, we should also never forget the efforts that some made to encourage us to... turn a blind eye to this brutality. Between the two world wars, and during the long cold war that followed, apologists tried to persuade us that the ideology of communism was benign. They said we should be neutral towards it... They said we should learn to live with it. (But) Canadians knew better. So we took a stand. We stood for freedom and fundamental human rights. We stood against oppression in Ukraine. We stood with its brave people, and those of the other captive nations of central and Eastern Europe.”
That is also why the Parliament and Government of Canada took a stand earlier this year, passing into law An Act to Establish a Ukrainian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day, which recognizes the genocidal nature of Holodomor.
We did so because, in the words of Prime Minister Harper, "remembering those who died, and why they died, is our best hope against history repeating itself."
This also explains our Government's decision to cooperate in the creation of a Canadian monument to the victims of communism, to be established in our nation’s capital, Ottawa.
It will stand as a lasting place of sacred memory to the millions whose lives were taken by a brutal, utopian ideology during Holodomor, and throughout what Pope John Paul II called "the Century of Tears."
May their sacred memory never be lost to us.
And may their souls rest in peace.
Remarks by The Hon. Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism