Mr. Speaker, in my maiden speech, four years ago this week, I related some of my family history. Most members know that I’m very proud of my German heritage, but there’s more to that story. My mother’s family was German, and she grew up in a village of German Lutherans. But the village wasn’t in Germany; it was in Ukraine.
The atrocities suffered by the people of Ukraine at the hands of Joseph Stalin are well known, or at least I thought they were. The Holodomor was cultural genocide of horrific proportions, death by starvation, imposed by a brutal dictator who had no compunction to cause the deaths of millions of innocent men, women, and children. But the atrocities did not end in 1933.
I never met my grandfather, whose name I bear. On November 11, 1936, trucks loaded with Russian soldiers rolled in to my mother’s village, and all men aged 16 and older, including my grandfather, were loaded up and taken away, never to be seen again. The German word is “weggeschleppt,” which means dragged away. My mother was 14 at the time. For the rest of her life she was haunted by images of that night, until she passed away three years ago.
The suggestion that the Holodomor or the other atrocities carried out on innocent people living in Ukraine are somehow related to a bill that we are debating is an outrage. It insults the memory of those who died, it insults the suffering of those who survived, and it insults the efforts of those who have sought to educate our people on this dark and detestable chapter of human history. To suggest that the Holodomor was somehow the fault of the victims is shocking in its inaccuracy and disrespect. To make that suggestion for political gain is heinous.
Surely, Mr. Speaker, political discourse in this province has not sunk so low.
On July 6, 2016, Richard Starke called for more respect for Holodomor victims.
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