Introduction: Between 1914 and 1920, during Canada's first national internment operations, thousands of Ukrainian Canadians were unjustly imprisoned as "enemy aliens", and subjected to various other harmful and sometimes racist measures, including the confiscation of valuables and properties, disenfranchisement, exploitation of the internees' labour, deportation and censorship.
Legislative Effort: On September 1991, the Liberal MP for Kingston and the Islands, Mr. Peter Milliken, rose in the House of Commons to recommend that the Government should "acknowledge that the internment, disenfranchisement and related repressive measures taken against Canadians of Ukrainian origin ... were unwarranted and unjust", to "instruct Parks Canada to errect historical markers at each of the ... sites where Ukrainians were interned and (develop) a permanent historical educational exhibit at the Castle Mountain internment camp site in Banff National Park," and to "undertake negotiations ... on redress."
All parties represented in the House of Commons unanimously approved Mr. Milliken's motion.
Regrettably, to date, the Government of Canada has not fulfilled the will of Parliament.
Community Initiatives: On 4 August 1994, our Association and its supporters installed the first-ever historical marker in memory of Ukrainian Canadians imprisoned at Fort Henry, near Kingston, Ontario, site of Canada's first permanent internment camp.
On 12 August 1995, our Association and its supporters unveiled a statue, entitled Why?, in commemoration of the Ukrainian Canadian internees held at the Castle Mountain camp, in Banff National Park.
On 14 October 1995, we placed another statue, Never Forget, in the internees' cemetary at Kapuskasing and unveiled an historical marker nearby, describing the experiences of Ukrainian Canadians at Canada's longest-operating concentration camp.
These efforts were undertaken using community resources, with no financial support from the federal government.
Request: We respectfully request that, as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, you take note that a total of 81 women and 156 children were interned, some of whom perished in the camps. Furthermore, many other families suffered when fathers, sons and brothers were taken away from their homes, communities and friends and interned without just cause in labour camps located in Canada's hinterlands.
The last two known survivors of Canada's first national internment operations are both women, Mrs. Mary Manko Haskett and Mrs. Stefa Pawliw Mielniczuk, the honourary co-chairwomen of our Association's National Redress Council. Both were born in Canada and lived in Montreal before they were taken, along with other members of their families, and interned in the Spirit Lake, Quebec internment camp (today known as La Ferme). Mrs. Manko Haskett's sister, Nellie, died there.
Today we are here to request that you, Mrs. Minister, provide the necessary funding from your 1995/1996 budget to ensure that a statue in memory of Ukrainian Canadian women and children who were interned at the Spirit Lake camp is erected at that site, along with a suitable historical plaque, during the summer of 1996. Immediate steps should also be taken to protect the historical integrity and sanctity of the Spirit Lake internment camp cemetary.
You would also do our community an honour by agreeing to help Mrs. Manko Haskett and Mrs. Stefa Pawliw Mielniczuk unveil these permanent reminders of the tragedy which befell the Ukrainian Canadian community during this country's first national internment operations.
As the Minister responsible for the Status of Women we anticipate your positive decision with respect to this modest proposal.
L.Y. Luciuk, PhD
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Originally Composed: Wednesday January 22nd 1997.
Date last modified: Sunday October 26th 1997.