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Winnipeg Free Press | 09Apr2013 | Kevin Rollason

Discontent remains on CMHR, Holodomor

Group rips 'offensive' presentation of issue

Despite nearly 10 years of arguing the Holodomor should be featured more prominently in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is still not happy.

UCC executive director Taras Zalusky said Monday his organization and membership, which held a town-hall meeting on the issue Sunday, are upset both the Holodomor -- which saw millions of people in Ukraine die in a man-made famine -- and the forced internment of Ukrainian-Canadians during the First World War are not receiving a prominent and permanent exhibit and gallery in the museum.

"Our concerns are the same and they've been the same all along," Zalusky said. "We'll only have one chance to get this right. We want a fair and balanced treatment on these tragedies.

"We came out on April 11, 2003, supporting the museum, but it's getting harder and harder to support the museum."

UCC president Paul Grod said in a statement that after a tour of the museum in February, he was also upset about part of the museum's layout.

"Even more outrageous, the subject of the famine-genocide of 1932-33 in Soviet Ukraine, the Holodomor, is relegated to a minor panel in a small obscure gallery near the museum's public toilets," Grod said.

"This is offensive and intolerable."

Zalusky and Grod said in a statement they are calling for the CMHR to create a permanent and prominent Holodomor gallery as well as a permanent exhibition space for a First World War internment exhibit.

As well, the UCC is calling for all Canadians to voice their concerns to their federal MP, write to Heritage Minister James Moore and contact the individuals and companies who donated money to the CMHR.

"We want to celebrate the opening rather than protest it," Zalusky said.

And, referring to the forced internment in Canada, Zalusky said, "It's surprising they wouldn't choose to focus on a Canadian human rights tragedy."

But CMHR officials said the Holodomor is featured in three exhibits and is being incorporated into the institution's thematic approach in galleries and exhibits.

Spokeswoman Angela Cassie said the museum has commissioned a film about the Holodomor as the first one shown in its Breaking the Silence gallery, where other genocides formally recognized by Canada will be featured.

Cassie also said the Holodomor will be part of that gallery's interactive study table, which will project images from a database and study carrels, where people can listen to the stories of survivors.

"We have an opportunity as a museum to be a world leader in Holodomor awareness," she said. "Our mission is so much more than its physical-based exhibits... you could spend hours in the Breaking the Silence gallery and at the carrels."

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*** LL3 *** 09Apr2013 at 5:32 AM ***
No community's suffering should be elevated above all others in a taxpayer funded national museum and yet that is exactly what is happening at the CMHR, despite the legitimate and publicly voiced concerns of the public, a majority of whom reject any group getting preferential treatment in the exhibit spaces. The Orwellian doublespeak that characterizes the CMHR's pronouncements on this subject is breath-taking, and unacceptable, no less offensive than the placement of the Holodomor exhibit near the CMHR's toilets, a provocative gesture that is in and of itself denigrating to the memory of the many millions who died during the Holodomor and an insult to the Ukrainian Canadian community.

*** LL3 *** 10Apr2013 at 5:24 AM ***
Best to watch the Ukrainian Canadian Congress's president, Paul Grod, address this issue before one comments:

*** Donny Knudsen *** 09Apr2013 at 10:34 AM ***
"Despite nearly 10 years of arguing the Holodomor should be featured more prominently"

Stop the intentional distortion. The Ukrainian community's position has remained the same all along: make all the galleries THEMATIC, COMPARATIVE, and INCLUSIVE. This means no special treatment for anybody's pet issue, affording people the opportunity to juxtapose EVERY instance associated with a particular theme. The WFP's blatant attempt to propagandize, promoting hatred against the Ukrainian community so it will stop complaining about the Holocaust's undeniably special position is nauseatingly mendacious, not to mention obvious. A fine way to promote a human rights museum.

*** JMT *** 10Apr2013 at 7:29 AM ***
Folks, let's just call the CMHR what it really is...... A Holocaust museum with just enough extras or add-ons to qualify for 250M + in taxpayer funding. Holocaust museum was the plan from Day 1.... let's just (reluctantly) accept it and move on..... :(