Fr. Hannas Council of the Knights of Columbus served lunch to children at St. Bernadette School to help remember the Holodomor.
EDMONTON — The Knights of Columbus of St. Basil’s Ukrainian Catholic Parish commemorated the Holodomor — the forced famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the early 1930s — by feeding elementary students at St. Bernadette Catholic School Dec. 1.
“What we are trying to do is have the kids understand hunger and what it might have been like to be hungry back then,” explained Maurice Chichak, the council’s grand knight.
Each year the 140-member council marks the Holodomor by serving a meal to a Catholic school that offers a lunch program. This is the second year they have served students at St. Bernadette.
“We feel very blessed to have had this group come in and serve our children and give us the experience and the history of the Holodomor,” said principal Joanne Friedt.
Despite what happened to their ancestors, “these people are not bitter but want to turn this negative into something positive for children.”
Before feasting on homemade chicken soup, ham sandwiches, donuts and milk, the 120 students and their teachers heard about the Holodomor from Father Ireneus Prystajecky and their principal.
The Holodomor was a famine caused by the leaders of the former Soviet Union. In an effort to force Ukrainian farmers to adopt collective rather than independent farming, and to eliminate the Ukrainian nation and its aspirations for independence, Joseph Stalin’s communist regime confiscated food, animals and land from Ukrainian farmers in 1932-33.
The forced starvation resulted in the deaths of millions of Ukrainians.
To make it easy for students, Prystajecky compared the Holodomor to bullying, with the bully being the Soviet Union that took all the food away from its victim, the Ukrainian nation.
The knights and their wives prepared the meal and served it to the students at their desks. They put together six carts with six pots of soup and six large plates of sandwiches and milk and homemade donuts and went to each one of the classrooms and served the classes.
“These Knights of Columbus and their wives each one of them took a classroom and they personally went and served them soup and personally handed out sandwiches,” Friedt said.
“We feel very blessed to have been the recipients of their generosity.”
The Knights, along with the congregation of St. Basil’s Parish, also donated a substantial number of food items to St. Bernadette to support the school’s breakfast and lunch programs.
They also gave out commemorative bookmarkers to every student.
“Thank you for allowing as to supply a yearly simple lunch for your school in honour of the thousands that died in a forced famine in Ukraine, the breadbasket of Europe, in 1932, while the rest of Europe stood by,” reads the back of the bookmarker.
“Each year in November a meal is served in memory of our ancestors who starved through no fault of their own.”