MPP honoured for efforts to recognize Ukrainian genocide

  • March 16, 2011
MPP Dave Levac with his Ukrainian Order of Merit. (Photo by Michael Swan)TORONTO - Not many people have been knighted for an act of remembering. Ontario Liberal MPP Dave Levac is one of the few, recently made a Chevalier of the Ukrainian Order of Merit for his efforts to have the genocide of Ukrainians in the 1930s officially recognized in Ontario.

In 2009 Levac pushed through the Holodomor Memorial Day Act, recognizing the fourth Saturday of each November as Holodomor Memorial Day. A Soviet government-engineered famine in Ukraine in 1932 and 1933, the Holodomor killed up to 10 million Ukrainians, as many as 25,000 a day at its peak in 1933.

Levac was presented with his Order of Merit medal at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brantford, Ont., Jan. 21. It’s the highest honour awarded by the Ukrainian government.

“It humbles me,” said Levac.

Co-sponsored by the NDP’s Cheri DiNovo and the Progressive Conservative Frank Klees, Levac’s private member’s bill was the first tri-party bill to be passed in Ontario’s legislature.

Levac is proud his bill brought the legislature together, and that it brought together Catholic and Orthodox Ukrainians.

“I met with religious leaders of both. They were there from the beginning,” said Levac, recalling the two-year effort to have the bill passed. “They always showed up in harmony, shared blessings and shared prayers. The one thing they did not abandon was the reality of what Stalin did.”

For the Ukrainian community, the fact Holodomor Memorial Day is officially recognized in Ontario is extremely important, said Fr. Hladio Bohdan, pastor of St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Oshawa, Ont., and chair of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress of Durham Region.

“When something evil happens, it’s very important to shine the light on it,” said Bohdan. “What’s Confession all about? You shine the light of Christ on the nasty things and the light of Christ destroys them.”

By recognizing the Holodomor, Ontario puts some flesh on the idea Canada is a multicultural society, said Levac.

“We recognize, acknowledge and respect what the Ukrainian people went through to maintain themselves as a nation. It’s an acknowledgement of history,” he said. “It also signals that we do have this respect for multiculturalism.”

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.