Ukrainian News |
25Apr2013 | Marco Levytsky
Grod calls upon community
to shout over CMHR
The Ukrainian Canadian community has to raise a storm across the
country in order to get proper recognition of our issues at the
soon-to-be-opened Canadian Museum of Human Rights, says Ukrainian
Canadian National Congress President Paul Grod.
“We need to shout now because the exhibits are being built in New York.
The content is being developed. We are months away from the opening of
this museum. And if we don’t scream loud and clear about our opposition
to the way the tragedies of our community are being displayed at this
museum then it won’t happen,” he said at a meeting with Edmonton’s
community at St. John Ukrainian Orthodox Cultural Centre, April 20,
During his Alberta roadshow, Grod also held meetings with the community
at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish
Hall in Calgary April 19, 2013 and St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic
Parish Hall in Red Deer, April 21, 2013.
Grod said that when the idea of the museum was first proposed by the
late Israel Asper in 2003 he gave a written commitment that there would
be prominent and permanent displays of both the internment of
Ukrainians in Canada during World War I and the genocidal Holodomor
during which millions of Ukrainians were starved to death under Soviet
Dictator Joseph Stalin and that Ukrainians would be presented as
victims of both Communism and Nazism.
When the museum elected a board of trustees who began a consulting
process with Canadians, the UCC made 85 representations across Canada
reiterating these three things that were promised by Asper.
But these items weren’t contained in the “biased and discredited”
Content Advisory Committee Report, which is the basis on which the
museum was designed, said Grod.
Two months ago, he was given a tour of the museum and noted that the
Holodomor was relegated to a panel the size of a door on the back wall
of a back gallery next to the washroom. He protested that nobody would
go to that gallery.
The response of the director of stakeholder relations was that it’s a
very good area because it’s next to the washrooms so it will be a high
“I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry,” said Grod.
He noted that the Holodomor has a very important message that must be
“The Holodomor is the lens through which to view the crimes of
communism. The crimes of communism which impacted tens of millions
which destroyed the lives of tens of millions of people around the
world. The central and eastern European communities are fully behind us
because they believe that the Holodomor is that lens through which
their stories can be told”
The second significance of the Holodomor is that it serves as an
example to sensitize the world as to how food is used as a weapon --
which is being done today in places like Somalia, said Grod
There will be no exhibit for the internment of Ukrainians except for a
non-descript picture on the second floor, while the World War II
Japanese Internment, the Chinese Head tax and the Winnipeg General
Strike will be displayed, he added.
“Issues that are important to our community are either being ignored or
being minimized,” said Grod, adding he could understand this if the
museum was located in southern Alabama but not in Winnipeg, in the
province with the highest proportion of Ukrainian Canadians in the
Grod said that the community in Winnipeg was very angered by this
revelation and threatened to picket the museum.
He added that he assured them this won’t be strictly a Winnipeg issue,
but that they have the backing of Ukrainian Canadian communities across
the country. He urged members of the community to write and talk to
ministers, members of parliament and those companies who are supporting
Grod stressed the importance of community development, noting we have
to find new ways to reach out to the 1.25 million Canadians who cite
Ukrainian as their origin and help new immigrants settle in Canada.
“If we are the first to reach out and offer them a helping hand, they
will be part of our community forever,” he said.
Grod also noted that other Ukrainian Diasporas around the world look to
the Canadian one as an example, because “we care about our community
from cradle to grave”, through Ukrainian baptisms, nurseries, schools,
organizations and even cemeteries
He said Ukraine is high on the list of Canada’s foreign policy
priorities. Foreign Minister John Baird told him that the three foreign
policy topics most often discussed in the government caucus are Israel,
religious freedom and Ukraine.
“Canada really is Ukraine's best friend thanks to your work,” he told