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Ukrainian group seeks wartime redress

Written by Joe Serge

The Toronto Star
18 January 1988

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A Toronto-based lobby group for Ukrainian Canadians says any apology and compensation Ottawa may offer Japanese Canadians for their wrongful internment during World War II should also be offered to Ukrainian Canadians.

"If Ottawa's seriously considering the issue of an apology and redress for Japanese Canadians, they should do it for Ukrainian Canadians in particular -- and also Chinese Canadians and others," says Lubomyr Luciuk, research director of the Civil Liberties Commission of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.

Chinese Canadians are seeking redress for the discriminatory "head tax" imposed solely on Chinese immigrants at the turn of the century.

In the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, about 21,000 Canadians of Japanese descent, many of them born in Canada, were uprooted from their West Coast homes and shipped to shanty towns and work camps in the interior of British Columbia.

During the 1984 election campaign, Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney condemned the wartime treatment of Japanese Canadians. He said he believed "Canadian citizens whose rights were abused, violated and trampled upon should indeed be compensated."

The National Association of Japanese Canadians wants a public apology and $25,000 for each of the remaining 14,000 survivors of the internment.

Ottawa has rejected individual compensation. It has offered to establish a $12 million "community" fund. This has been flatly rejected and talks between Ottawa and the Japanese community remain at a stalemate.

Luciuk, 34, a professor of human geography at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Fellow, has written a 15-page brief, A Time For Atonement: Canada's First National Internment Operations And The Ukrainian Canadians 1914-1920.

The commission used the document to give notice to the government's Standing Committee on Multiculturalism that Ukrainian Canadians want reparation for the mistreatment of Ukrainians in Canada during World War I.

Luciuk documented his study by sifting through reams of material in public archives and old publications and through interviews with survivors. About 80,000 Ukrainian adults were unjustly branded "enemy" aliens, stripped of their rights and forced to report regularly to police, he said.

More than 5,000 were interned in Canada's hinterlands, and their farms and other possessions were confiscated.

Their crime was that they had immigrated to Canada from Galicia and Bukovina, possessions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was on the German side.

Thus, although an ethnic Ukrainian minority, they were citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and viewed as enemy aliens in Canada.

Luciuk said the evidence shows that Ukrainians in Canada had no sympathy for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or the Germans. Indeed, they joined the Canadian army in record numbers, often by concealing their place of birth and adopting British-sounding surnames.

"We feel what's appropriate would be an apology to the community as a whole, coupled to some kind of community fund, which would ensure that we could do the research which would result in the production of books or education material that would become part of the school curriculum," Luciuk said.

"We want to ensure that this particular historical episode is remembered."

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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk

We acknowledge the help in the preparation of this document by Amanda Anderson

Page layout, design, integration, and maintenance by G.W. Kokodyniak and V. Pawlowsky

Copyright © 1996-1997 InfoUkes Inc.


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Originally Composed: Saturday September 21st 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.