EDMONTON, Canada -- Premier Ed Stelmach's voice cracked as he spoke about an Act introduced and passed unanimously Thursday that makes every fourth Saturday in November an official memorial day in Alberta for the Ukrainian famine and genocide, or Holodomor.
"I do this with a great range of personal emotion," said Stelmach, whose grandparents immigrated to Alberta from Ukraine a century ago.
In a speech heavily peppered with Ukrainian phrases and words, Stelmach called the famine forced upon Ukrainians in the early 20th century "one of the most heinous atrocities of modern history." He outlined how millions of people from his ancestral home were starved to death by Soviet policies that stripped grains from Europe's traditional "bread basket."
"My grandfather and grandmother were amongst those early pioneers who came to Alberta in the late 1890s," Stelmach said. "Marie and I still maintain the original farm that they settled on, till the same soil that they did and . . . "
The premier took a long pause before continuing, "And we also give thanks for the abundant crops that soil yielded."
Sadly, he said, the dark black soil of the Ukraine his own ancestors treasured could not offer the same happy yields through the early 1930s.
The Act was introduced by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gene Zwozdesky - who is also of Ukrainian descent.
Source: Calgary Herald