The “Holodomor” was a horrific Soviet man-made famine that destroyed millions of lives in the 1930s—another attempt to break the Ukrainian people. Just one word, but how much horror it brings to everyone who has heard about how the Ukrainian people suffered.
Roma Dzerowicz, Project Manager of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour, says, “Through the prism of the Holodomor, we want to teach students the courage to speak up about truth, tolerance, kindness, civility and democratic values[. …] We don’t just teach history; we teach values that strengthen our society.”
The Holodomor National Awareness Tour is a project of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) that has been operating for over 5 years with the support of the Government of Canada as well as provincial government support from Ontario and Manitoba. It is a mobile classroom that travels the wide expanse of Canada providing valuable lessons about a dark chapter of history.
Thanks to Roma’s lectures, more and more students learn about what has been kept silent for decades: a terrible secret that after 80 years is becoming known to the whole world. In addition, the lectures are aimed at enabling students to explore the concepts of human rights and genocide through the prism of the Holodomor. The lessons specialize in genocide prevention education and promote social and emotional learning, providing students with critical thinking skills to better understand how intolerance and discrimination manifest themselves in society.
On June 12, in a historic first, the Holodomor National Awareness Tour made its first visit to Newfoundland and Labrador—the first time in the province that students had the opportunity to experience the history and events that took place in Ukraine in 1932-33. About ten schools were visited and dozens of students had the opportunity to learn about the Holodomor. An educational project that, thanks to state-of-the-art multimedia features, allows students to touch the history. The goal of the project is to build connections between communities to promote intercultural understanding, tolerance, awareness, and a deep respect for the democratic values we are all trying to embrace.
The Holodomor Mobile Class visited NL schools including St. Peter’s Junior High, Queen Elizabeth Regional High School, St. Paul’s Junior High School and Corner Brook Regional High School, with the last stop being Leary’s Brook Junior High School in St. John’s. The tour of the east coast of Canada lasted 10 days and left no one indifferent. The feedback from students has been beyond expectations. They left the lessons not just talking about the technology they used but also about the ways the experience shifted their perspective and opened their eyes to the reality of genocide.
Since the beginning of the large-scale Russian-Ukrainian war, the Ukrainian community has grown significantly and is actively developing in the province.
This is also another reason why the visit to Newfoundland was so important and necessary. Residents of the province are interested in studying the culture and history of the Ukrainian people, and thanks to such projects as this one, the interaction of cultures takes place in a very interesting way.
It is an impressive sight, because at first glance it looks like a large 40-meter bus, but in fact it is a real cinema that allows one not only to tell but also to show what was once so carefully hidden and what we were afraid to speak out loud. The movie theatre on wheels can accommodate 30 people, the video wall is impressive, the video and sound are of incredible quality— the viewing experience is as comfortable as possible for each viewer.
The students were able to take part in interactive lessons, each of them received an individual iPad, and with the help of this device everyone could answer questions and participate in joint projects that were broadcast on the screen. The students were able to watch videos of Holodomor survivors, and they heard horrific experiences of these people and how everything was covered up until the collapse of the USSR.
The Holodomor Mobile Classroom has already visited hundreds of schools and engaged thousands of students and educators. They have come a long way and done a lot of useful work.
The HMC’s journey continues, and every word heard encourages each of us to use our right to vote to build a strong and rightful society—because the power is in each of us.