Study News

Calls prompted to fire University of Alberta lecturer who denied Ukrainian famine

Edited on 2019-11-29

Some University of Alberta students want the school to fire an assistant lecturer who deemed Holodomor, the Ukrainian genocide executed by the former Soviet Union in 1932-33, a "myth" in his Facebook post.

It is estimated that up to 10 million people died in the Ukrainian famine. It was recognized in 2008 by Canada and nine other countries as an act of genocide perpetuated by the Soviet regime under Joseph Stalin.

However, Dougal MacDonald, listed as a sessional instructor in Department of Elementary Education, called the Holodomor a "myth". He claims he has spent a number of years in the research of the Holodomor and he believed that Holodomor was just a lie made up by former Nazi collaborators with faux photos and information stories.

His denial of the famine is controversial amongst the Canadian-Ukrainian community. The university's Ukrainian Student Society calls the post hate speech; also what he says may have bad influence on students, thus Mr. MacDonald should no longer be allowed to teach at the university.

In addition, both the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton condemn Mr. MacDonald's message and call for "immediate censure and termination".
MacDonald claims that he has a right to free speech and he has no intention to take back his comments. Neither would he discuss further with people who find offensive on this issue.

Deputy Provost Wendy Rodgers stated the university is "carefully monitoring" the issue but made it clear no action would be taken, "As a private citizen, Mr. MacDonald has the right express his opinion," she said, "It is our understanding that he has not expressed these views in the context of his employment relationship with the university."