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90 years ago, the Holodomor, Genocide again in 2023, justice when?

Dec 21, 2023 | Community, Featured

The 2023 Holodomor Essay Contest participants. Photo: Mark Kopinec

Lidia M. Wasylyn, LUCW Edmonton, Essay Contest coordinator.

The Edmonton branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadian Women (LUCW) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Holodomor Essay Contest. The contest, established in 2020 supports Holodomor learning and education. Junior and senior high school students in the Ukrainian-English bilingual program and at the Ivan Franko School of Ukrainian Studies are given an opportunity to develop a better understanding of the HOLODOMOR and its tragic, long-term consequences. The topic for the 2023 essay contest was “90 years ago, the Holodomor, genocide again in 2023, justice when?”

This year, the results of the essay contest were announced, and the presentation of awards were made on November 25, during the 2023 Holodomor Commemoration at Edmonton’s City Hall. This annual commemoration is organized by the Edmonton Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. It draws a large cross section of the community, elected officials from all three levels of government, the Edmonton School Boards, Bishops and many clergy from the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox Eparchies in Edmonton, as well as the Consul General of Ukraine in Edmonton, Alexandr Danyleiko.

All the contestants this year were junior high school students and many were new arrivals in Edmonton since March 2022 after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. To accommodate the newcomers, the essays could be submitted in either the English or Ukrainian language categories. Approximately one-half of the essay entries were in Ukrainian.

In each category, first place was awarded $250.00, second place was awarded $200 and third was awarded $150.00. Honorable mentions were also awarded in each category, and these students received copies of the critically acclaimed 2022 novel The Memory Keeper of Kyiv by Erin Litteken. This year’s awards were presented to the students by Consul General Alexandr Danyleiko.

A total of sixty essays were submitted for the contest. The judges were pleased with the overall good quality of the essays and found that the Ukrainian language essays were, on the whole, stronger, and well written. The Edmonton Branch of the LUCW warmly congratulates all the winners of the 2023 Holodomor Essay Contest. In the English language category, first place was awarded to Leona Maslovski, second to Alexander Kisil and two third place awards went to Kristina Stec and Danil Cheres. Honourable mentions were awarded to Anna Dmytryshyn, Jacelyn Lewczyk, Natalka Struk and Valeria Vasylevska. All these students attend St. Brendan Catholic Junior High School in Edmonton.

In the Ukrainian language first place was awarded to Stepan Harkusha, second to Marko Myc, and third place of Yaroslav Romanchak, all from St. Brendan Catholic School. Honourable mentions went to Anastasiia Sas, Anna Deinega, both from St. Brendan Catholic School and to Yeva Suprunets from St. Theresa Catholic School in Sherwood Park, Alberta.

The LUCW was privileged to have support from three seasoned and respected professionals as judges for the essay contest. Rena Hanchuk is a retired social studies educator who earned her BA and MA degrees in Ukrainian Language and Folklore. She taught Ukrainian in the English-Ukrainian bilingual program and social studies and history at the high school level for the Edmonton Catholic School Board. Lifelong journalist Marco Levytsky is Western Bureau Chief for The New Pathway-Ukrainian News as well as a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress National Holodomor Committee. He is an award-winning journalist with a passion for all matters Canadian Ukrainian and is highly respected for his integrity, objectivity, and determination to keep our elected officials well informed about our community issues. In 2020, Levytsky was awarded the Ivan Mazepa Cross by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Svitlana Sheptytsky graduated from the Bohdan Khmelnytsky State University in Cherkasy, Ukraine and holds a MA degree in Curriculum, teaching and learning from the University of Toronto. An educator with over twenty years of experience in Ukraine and Canada, she is currently the assistant to the Director of Education at the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (HREC) at the University of Alberta. The Branch is grateful to our judges for their enthusiasm and willingness to volunteer a significant amount of time to assess a daunting number of essays and provide personalized comments to each entrant.

Since 1955, the Edmonton Branch of LUCW has continually been involved in political activism, charitable works, and cultural programming in the community. The Branch is very proud of its advocacy for the recognition of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian Famine Genocide of 1932-1933 as genocide through Bill 37: Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act passed unanimously by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in 2008. Other recent projects supported by the branch include The Pier 21 project at the Canadian Museum of Immigration and the Guardian Angels Ukraine Project supporting medical treatment, rehabilitation and social re-integration of soldiers wounded in the war in Eastern Ukraine.

Additional financial support for the costs of running this contest were generously provided by the Brotherhood of Ukrainian Catholics, Alberta Branch and by the Edmonton Branch of the League of Ukrainian Canadians. The support of these organizations allows the LUCW to continue this project and offer generous awards to the winners.

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