In commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Holodomor, the artificial Famine-Genocide in Ukraine of 1932-33, the National Executive of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada mobilized its youth across all branches of Canada to hold a food drive. The food drive was in memory of the millions of innocent Ukrainian children and youth who perished in this artificial famine.
Each branch organized the food drive and commemoration services in a unique way.
Children in the Montreal branch collected canned and non-perishable food items and placed food items next to a table specially decorated to commemorate the Holodomor. They placed an icon, candle, sheaf of wheat tied in a black ribbon and a poster about the Holodomor with forget-me-not flowers to remember the innocent victims of the Holodomor. They also viewed a power-point presentation created by their counsellors, participated in a commemorative church service and prepared a song which they performed in the community centre.
On the other side of the country in Edmonton, Alberta, youth met in their community centre to listen to a presentation by candle light. They watched a you-tube video dealing with the Holodomor, a performance by a young Ukrainian women that does instant paintings using sand on a light table. They built the numbers 32-33 with the food products they had collected over a span of several weeks to remember two very dark years in the history of the Ukrainian people. They made wheat bundles, tied in black ribbons to bring them to a community commemoration to be placed at the Holodomor monument. Boxes of food were delivered to the Edmonton food bank.
In St. Catharines, Ontario and in Calgary, Alberta, food drives were organized by youth in local Ukrainian churches. By reaching out to the wider community, the branches were successful in collecting substantially larger amounts to donate to local food banks. The Ottawa branch extended their food drive into the month of December in hopes of donating food closer to Christmas to help those in need. Youth in all three branches attended candlelight ceremonies. Calgary youth put on a short play about the Holodomor.
Similarly, in Hamilton, children did a food drive and donated it to the Good Shepherd Foundation during a field trip to Dundurn Castle where collection boxes were set up. They also participated in Hamilton’s Holodomor Commemoration as flag bearers and laid a wreath that they made on their own. The children also made their own commemoration pin with a ear of wheat and a black ribbon that they then passed out to everyone at the event.
Mississauga children exceeded their goal of collecting 80 pounds of food. They collected over 130 pounds of food that was delivered to Eden Community Food Bank. A group of youth also volunteered time at the food bank. On Saturday, November 23rd, the children made a black flag display on Dixie Rd. which received coverage in a local paper. https://www.mississauga.com/news-story/4233910-mississauga-youth-group-remembers-millions-who-died-in-ukrainian-famine/
Rii Bldjoly who volunteered and helped deliver food
Later in the evening on November 23, Holodomor Remembrance Day, members of Mississauga youth joined their peers from the Etobicoke branch to attend a commemoration at City Hall in downtown Toronto. Etobicoke youth also delivered food to the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank via a local fire station in Etobicoke earlier that day. Their weekly meeting was also dedicated to the remembrance of victims of the Holodomor through presentations, videos and interesting art projects.
The horror of the Holodomor is a difficult topic to relay to children. A food drive is a tangible and comprehensive starting point. A food drive to commemorate the Holodomor raises historical awareness as it serves as a reminder of the famine’s devastation, but at the same time it promotes social awareness and teaches children some very important lessons. Members of the Ukrainian Youth Association across Canada are to be commended for their role in this year’s food drive and Holodomor commemoration efforts. Their actions have made a positive impact on the lives of others across the country.
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