Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ukrainians irked over genocide snub

13 june
Ukrainians irked over genocide snub
1932 Holodomor left off T.O. board's list of atrocities

June 13, 2008

Leaders of an "insulted" Ukrainian community last night blasted the
Toronto District School Board for approving a genocide class that
doesn't include the 1932-33 Holodomor in its list of three atrocities
to be studied in-depth.

The TDSB last night unanimously approved the course design for the
Grade 11 genocide class, which will focus mainly on three mass murders
-- the 1915 Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the 1994 Rwandan

But a board superintendent, Nadine Segal, said other genocides,
including the current Darfur crisis as well as the Soviet-engineered
Ukrainian Holodomor famine, will be touched upon in a broader, survey
context. Students will have the opportunity to choose other genocides
for independent study, Segal said.

The three atrocities studied in-depth will introduce the students to
the concept of genocides and crimes against humanity to give them the
tools to look critically at the world and its atrocities, she said.

"There's certainly no attempt to undermine anybody's tragedy or to
suggest that anyone's suffering is less important than anyone else's,
by focusing on the three that we did," Segal said.

The Ukrainians at the packed meeting last night were angered by the
decision because they want the Holodomor to be a core area of study in
the course, while members of the Turkish-Canadian community were upset
over the inclusion of the Armenian genocide.

"We're insulted as a worldwide Ukrainian community, and we're insulted
as a local community," said Markian Shwec, president of the Ukrainian
Canadian Congress Toronto branch. "We have 100,000 people in Toronto,
over 1.2 million Canadians are of Ukrainian descent, and we're being
refused the opportunity to teach one of the worst tragedies of mankind
(as a core component), so we are insulted." The 50 or so
Turkish-Canadians, who carried placards that read "Stop Armenian Hate
Propaganda!", said Turks dispute the genocide claim, and that the 1.5
million Armenian deaths were a result of war and two million Muslims
in the Ottoman Empire also died.

"I don't want our kids to be subjected to this kind of hate
propaganda," said Ali Bukey, 52, a Turkish-Canadian.

But Aris Babikian, executive director of the Armenian National
Committee of Canada, disagreed.

"These people are ultra-nationalists who are propagating the Turkish
government's policy of denial," Babikian said. "These people don't
represent the Turkish-Canadian community. They are extremists."

The class, which will be offered in 12 high school across the city in
September, is the first of its kind for the school board.

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