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Ontario to make Holodomor education mandatory for high school students Students will learn about the significance of the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide of 1932-33

Dec 1, 2023 | Community, Featured

The Holodomor Bus team: (L-R) Zenon Dolzycki, Andrew Witer, Roma and Denny Dzerowicz

The Ontario government is introducing new mandatory learning in the Grade 10 Canadian History course about the Holodomor famine and its impact on the Ukrainian community in Canada. This new learning will elevate Canadian values focused on embracing democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. The new curriculum will ensure all students learn about the adverse consequences of extreme political ideologies like those from Stalin’s totalitarian communist regime, designed to ensure students learn from history.

Beginning in September 2025, the new learning will outline how the Holodomor, also known as the Great Ukrainian Famine, was a result of totalitarian policies of the Communist Soviet Union leading to a man-made famine in Ukraine that killed millions of Ukrainians between 1932 to 1933.

Students will also learn about how extreme ideologies enabled mass-scale political repressions through widespread intimidation, arrests and imprisonment, along with the impact of this genocide on the Ukrainian community in Canada.

“The rise of extremism, including Communism and Marxism, are direct threats to our democracy, social cohesion and values as Canadians,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “I am determined to strengthen education on our shared values, including by mandating learning about the horrors of state-sponsored persecution of Ukrainians in the Holodomor in Grade 10 Canadian History. This learning will help ensure students are never bystanders in the face of such horrors, understand the danger of totalitarianism and help safeguard fundamental Canadian values of freedom and democracy over communist extremism.”

To reinforce this learning, Ontario is investing $400,000 in the Canada-Ukraine Foundation to support the Holodomor National Awareness Tour and the Holodomor Mobile Classroom (HMC), a 40-foot mobile recreational vehicle (RV) with interactive hands-on lessons designed to engage students and assist in teaching about the Holodomor. The Holodomor Mobile Classroom travels to schools across the province and will engage up to 4,000 students in Grades 6 to 12 through experiential learning directly linked to the Ontario curriculum.

Following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the Ontario Government took action to stand with the people of Ukraine, including by ensuring every child seeking protection in Canada from war could immediately enter publicly funded schools at no cost, along with the extension of trauma and mental health resources in their language. These actions are part of Ontario’s ongoing commitment to strengthening education to combat the sharp rise of hate afflicting Canadian societies and schools.

It includes new supports and resources for Ontario students and educators and complements new expanded mandatory learning about the Holocaust in the Grade 10 Canadian History course to be introduced in September 2025.

Hon. Michael D. Ford, MPP for York South—Weston and Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, said: “The 90th anniversary of the Holodomor genocide is an opportunity to learn and reflect on a dark time in history where millions of innocent Ukrainians starved to death. By introducing mandatory learning about the Holodomor and its impact on the Ukrainian community, students will be able to better understand the dangerous impact of hate, discrimination and prejudice and how to recognize and respond to it. It will also help them learn about democracy, human rights, respect and the shared responsibility we all play in building a stronger, safer and more inclusive province for all.”

Roma Dzerowicz, executive director of the Holodomor National Awareness Tour, noted that “We need to raise awareness about the consequences of hate, genocide and bullying, and we are doing this through the lens of the Holodomor on the Holodomor Mobile Classroom, a state-of-the-art experiential learning environment with our thought-provoking lessons designed to inform and assist teachers, engage and educate students about the Holodomor and demonstrate that lessons of the past are relevant in the world today.”

Peter Schturyn, President, UCC Toronto, said: “The Ukrainian Canadian community is thankful that the truth about the Holodomor and the millions of innocent Ukrainians who starved to death in 1932-33 under the Stalinist Russian regime, will now be taught widely in Ontario schools. It is more important than ever as Russia today continues to use food as a weapon by bombing Ukrainian grain silos and laying land mines in farmers fields.”

Victor Hetmanczuk, Chair of the Board, Canada-Ukraine Foundation, said: “Today’s announcement to include the study of the 1932-33 Holodomor in Ukraine in Grade 10 Canadian History is momentous news for the Ukrainian-Canadian community that works tirelessly to document and spread the truth about the atrocities of the Soviet regime under Joseph Stalin that claimed millions of lives in Ukraine in 1932-33. Canada-Ukraine Foundation is immensely grateful to the Government of Ontario for the $400,000 in support to continue the Holodomor National Awareness Tour and its main component – the Holodomor Mobile Classroom to enhance and reinforce the newly mandated curriculum.”

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