Revisiting the Holodomor
On Russia and Ukraine
I owe you more than a few words. Apologies for the silence these past few weeks. I had been laid low by an illness, which was exhausting and not much fun. I also started a new job, which was thrilling but again exhausting.
Then, of course, there is the roller coaster ride that is the news cycle. I could not disembark. I spent too much time watching and listening and trying to make sense of the situation in Ottawa, my nation’s capital, and the situation in Ukraine, the home of all four of my maternal great-grandparents.
The Hagels and the Burhoffs came to Canada in the early 20th century, before the Russian Revolution and the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). They never went back, and few of the family members they left behind survived. If any.
I have been writing a novel that imagines the fate of those left behind. In it, a young girl comes of age amidst the Holodomor, a famine orchestrated by Stalin that killed millions throughout Ukraine in 1932-33.
I find it impossible to view Putin’s actions today without recollecting the horrors of Stalin’s Five-Year Plan, collectivization, and genocide. Without considering Russia’s long history of encroaching on Ukraine for its resources, with little care for the people who live there.
Later this week, I will be back to celebrate Black History Month as promised. I may have a few words to say about the protests in Ottawa. For now, I leave you with the first issue of Sift. Shift. Lift. An exploration of the Holodomor through the work of academics, artists, and activists.
Stay safe friends. Stay safe.
Sift. Shift. Lift. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.