After fighting for a spot at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Ukrainian-Canadians are asking just how much respect coverage of the Holodomor will receive when it's located right next to the bathroom.
Last week, Ukrainian-Canadian Congress president Paul Grod got a tour of the museum, set to open as early as next year, and its coverage of the 1932-33 genocidal famine in which four million people were killed.
When his high hopes for co-operation were placed right next to the toilet, Grod had an issue.
He sent out a mass e-mail Friday complaining of the location.
"We're very disappointed," said Roman Yereniuk, member of the provincial UCC council. "They wanted to bring to attention that they're disappointed with the promises made, and want to see some improvements, and also modification of the exhibit."
Yereniuk, who is also acting director at the U of M's Centre for Ukrainian-Canadian Studies, says he's hopeful the museum will listen, since it's funding a Ukrainian-made documentary on the genocide produced by that country's Holodomor museum.
Museum spokeswoman Maureen Fitzhenry said the exhibit is not, in fact, located near a washroom.
"No content in our museum is located next to a washroom," Fitzhenry said. She suggested that during Grod's tour, it might have been pointed out that "if people were going to the washroom it might be somewhere they go by." But the washrooms are generally located down hallways, she said.
Fitzhenry also noted that there's not just one exhibit on Ukrainian issues, but seven.
"There's not just an 'it,' there's a whole bunch of Holodomor isssues and Ukrainian content," she said.
"I think we thought we'd been doing a great deal of work to show that the museum is dedicted to showing the Holodomor and other Ukrainian issues as powerful issues in our museum. And we thought we were making some headway."
Yeremiuk said he's excited about the joint CMHR-Ukrainian museum documentary.
"I personally am very, very happy that the museum of Holodomor genocide in Kiev has partnered with our museum of human rights. Because I think it gives a signal that the CMHR (realizes) the Ukrainian genocide has to be treated in a very reverent and very serious way," Yereniuk said. "But on the other side, I have not toured the museum yet, but I'm very disappointed."
Grod is asking Canada's Ukrainian community to step up with another letter-writing campaign to encourage CMHR to improve the display or its location.
[W.Z. A 20-minute video of a 10Feb2013 meeting in Winnipeg with the Ukrainian community on the issue is available on our videolinks page.]
Last year, the CMHR's decision not to have a permanent Holodomor exhibit angered many Manitobans and others of Ukranian descent. In April 2012, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) launched a postcard campaign, directed at federal Heritage Minister James Moore, to push its point that because the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is publicly funded, it should be far more transparent in its goals for its galleries -- and should not "elevate the suffering of any community above all others."