Newswise — Teaching social justice and human rights is an important part of school curricula. A summer institute titled: Social Justice—Teaching the Ukrainian Famine-Genocide and Ukrainian Canadian Internment will be offered at the University of Manitoba in Canada. It is being taught by Drs. Orest Cap and Denis Hlynka in the department of curriculum, teaching and learning.

“We are examining the Ukrainian famine—Holodomor—from a pedagogical perspective, within a historic context,” says Hlynka. “We are also teaching about the internment of Ukrainian Canadians in Canadian prison camps during World War I. These two topics are case studies that will be of interest to teachers and anyone else concerned with issues of human rights and social justice.”

Hlynka explains that Canada has a surprisingly negative record in terms of prison or concentration camps. The Ukrainians were the first population to be interned, because they were considered to be “enemy aliens.” In 2008, the Canadian government put aside a fund to recognize the thousands of Ukrainians and others who were interned.

He notes: “It is easy to think of other countries as being hostile to minorities, but we seldom think of our own government as being the villain, yet it happened. Twenty-four prison camps were set up across Canada, including two in Manitoba and places such as Banff National Park.”

Cap says that the Holodomor famine/genocide of 1932-3 is one of many examples in which the rights of humanity were trampled upon and the concept of social justice denied.

“The fact that this is still within living memory is even more horrendous,” he states. “And even though the estimates of the number of dead vary wildly between 3 and 10 million, it is one of the tragedies of humanity that even today historians, politicians and other well-meaning individuals attempt to downplay.”

Cap adds that the reason these courses are being taught in the Faculty of Education is because history tends to repeat itself: history begets understanding. It is particularly relevant to Manitobans, because the Ukrainian-Canadian heritage is so large here. There is a plaque in remembrance of the internments on the grounds of the Manitoba legislature and a monument at Winnipeg’s City Hall commemorating the Holodomor.

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