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Winnipeg's Ukrainian community marks 90th anniversary of Holodomor

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More than 100 people gathered at Winnipeg’s City Hall Saturday afternoon to mark the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor – a man-made famine that claimed more than 3 million Ukrainian lives between 1932 and 1933.

Back then, Luba Semaniuk was only seven years old living in Zaporizhia, Ukraine with her parents and her younger sister.

“Our life was very hard, we were in starvation,” Semaniuk said.

She is one of three Holodomor survivors left in Manitoba and still has vivid memories of what her family went through 90 years ago.

“We see the people dead on the street. Wagon was coming to pick them up,” Semaniuk recalled. “I hope never ever happen again what we [went] through.”

“Never again” – words echoed by a number of community advocates and political leaders at the event.

“The echoes of history reverberate as Ukraine faces yet another assault on its sovereignty and a challenge to its very existence,” said Dan Vandal, Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface and Saint Vital.

The anniversary comes almost two years since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and on the same day as Ukrainian forces say Russia launched more than 70 drones in an attack on Kyiv.

“This is our way of fighting back,” said Father Taras Udod, the former chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada. Udod, who is also the son of a late Holodomor survivor, said that while Ukrainians in Canada cannot physically fight in the ongoing war, having events like this help in the push for sovereignty and awareness.

“We can fight back in the court of public opinion and affirm and strengthen one another,” he said.

Strength in community, and within families touched by the famine and the front lines.

“I have children who live in a free country and I have family in Ukraine who are still dealing with fighting for their own independence,” said Kristya Matwichyna, the granddaughter of a Holodomor survivor.

The Ukrainian community in Winnipeg will keep bringing attention to the Holodomor, as well as the horrors happening in Ukraine now.

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