Soliders confiscate grain from peasants in Novokrane, Ukraine in 1932. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alberta)Soliders confiscate grain from peasants in Novokrane, Ukraine in 1932. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alberta)

Holodomor education to become mandatory in Ontario schools

Grade 10 and Grade 6 Ontario students will soon learn about the Holodomor famine and how it impacted Canada's Ukrainian community.

The Ontario government is adding it to the Grade 10 Canadian History and Grade 6 Social Studies curriculum in September 2025.

The Holodomor, a man-made famine, was the result of the totalitarian policies of the former Soviet Union in 1932 and 1933, designed to suppress Ukrainian nationalism.

Historians say the exact death toll may never be known. However, estimates suggest that 3.9 million Ukrainian farmers and rural residents died when the Soviets collectivized agriculture by forcing farmers to give up their land, work on government farms, and severely punished any who resisted.

"The rise of extremism, including Communism and Marxism, are direct threats to our democracy, social cohesion, and values as Canadians," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. "This learning will help ensure students are never bystanders in the face of such horrors, understand the danger of totalitarianism, and help safeguard fundamental Canadian values of freedom and democracy."

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the Ontario government ensured children seeking protection in Canada could enter publicly funded schools at no cost and extended trauma and mental health support.

The government is investing $400,000 in the Canada-Ukraine Foundation Holodomor National Awareness Tour. The Holodomor Mobile Classroom travels to schools across Canada, offering students hands-on lessons.

"The 90th anniversary of the Holodomor genocide is an opportunity to learn and reflect on a dark time in history where millions of innocent Ukrainians starved to death," said Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michael Ford. "By introducing mandatory learning about the Holodomor and its impact on the Ukrainian community, students will be better able to understand the dangerous impact of hate, discrimination, and prejudice and how to recognize and respond to it. It will also help them learn about democracy, human rights, respect, and the shared responsibility we all play in building a stronger, safer, more inclusive province for us all."

The 2021 Canadian Census showed that 1.26 million Canadians identify as Ukrainian, including over 324,000 Ontarians.

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