Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Canadian Author Honored by Yushchenko

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Canadian Author Honored by Yushchenko

From Fitzhenry & Whiteside:

This week the Canadian government announced they will recognize the Ukrainian famine as an act of genocide; for her writing on the topic Toronto-author Marsha Skrypuch will be honored by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

In a ceremony today, Skrypuch will be awarded the Order of Princess Olha: the highest honor Ukraine bestows on citizens of foreign countries. Skrypuch, who is of Ukrainian decent, has written extensively on the Ukrainian Famine, known as Holodomor. Her acclaimed children's book Enough, set in the Ukraine during the Great Famine of the 1930s, was a Resource Links "Best of the Best 2001" and a Canadian Children Book Center "Our Choice".

The Holodomor - meaning "death by starvation" in Ukrainian - was a massive famine that occurred from 1932-1933 in Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. It was gravely worsened by government policies that took food away from Ukrainian peasants and set harsh penalties for those who "stole" it back.

Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity Jason Kenney announced that the Harper cabinet has decided to recognize the Holodomor as genocide. The announcement marks Yushchenko's Canadian visit this week and comes on the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian famine. Since 2006, Mr. Yushchenko has led international efforts to have the Holodomor, in which millions died, recognized as a campaign to
eliminate the Ukrainian nation.

"In this brutal, inhumane way, the Communist authorities were trying to deal a mortal blow to the very foundation and heart of our nation, to the peasants and farmers, and thus eliminate the future possibility of reviving and growing as an independent Ukraine," Yushchenko said in a speech on Monday.

Skrypuch told the Brantford Expositor that meeting Yushchenko will be a
thrill. She wants to tell him how much she admires the reforms he has brought to the country where her paternal grandfather was born. "He's my hero," she says, citing Yushchenko's role in the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution, which introduced free elections to Ukraine.

This week's events has also been accompanied by some controversy as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is strongly advocating that Holomodor be added to the Toronto Public School Board's upcoming course on the Holocaust. The grade 11 course will focus on the Holocaust as well as the Armenian and Rwandan genocides.

But according to the Globe and Mail, Darryl Robinson, who was on the independent committee that reviewed the genocide course, recommended excluding the Ukrainian famine. Robinson says the recommendation was not politically motivated. "The course already had three case studies. We thought it was better to go in-depth with these three case studies. They're from three different eras and three different regions."

The TDSB is holding a meeting next week to hear submissions from Ukrainian supporters, as well as appeals from people of other ethnic backgrounds.

About Marsha Skrypuch:

Marsha Skrypuch is the author of many books for children and young adults, including Call Me Aram, Silver Threads, Enough, The Hunger and Hope's War. Her novel about the Armenian Genocide, Nobody's Child, was nominated for the Red Maple Award, the Alberta Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the B.C. Stellar Award. It was also listed by Resource Links as a "Best Book." Her newest book, Daughter of War, was released this past April. An English Scholar and former librarian, Marsha lives in Ontario with her husband and son.

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