"Austrian" internees at the Morrissey internment camp, British Columbia, 1918 (Photo courtesy of Mr. Walter Doskoch)
Canadians of Ukrainian origin have agreed that the demand of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) for an official Canadian government apology and redress for the wrongs inflicted upon them during the Second World War is right and just. The Ukrainian Canadian Committee (UCC) is on the record as favouring such long overdue restitution of the part of the federal government.
But this support is not without an important qualification. On December 7,1987, a representative of the Civil Liberties Commission of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Multiculturalism. He presented a brief, entitled A Time for Atonement: Canada's First National Internment Operations and the Ukrainian Canadians 1914-1920 in which it was made clear that Ukrainian Canadians were the first victims of The War Measures Act (1914). During the First World War period they were subjected not only to internment and registration as "enemy aliens" but also to the confiscation of their valuables and properties, disenfranchisement, and a number of other discriminatory legislative actions, including the banning of Ukrainian organizations and the Ukrainian-language press. These measures so enfeebled the community that, as late as the Second World War period, an RCMP officer reported that many of the community's leaders were "still in fear of the barbed wire fence". American intelligence agents made similar observations.
Today, the Ukrainian Canadian community demands that the federal government also recognize the grave injustices that were done to it between 1914-1920. It is time for: "The Parliament of Canada (to) officially acknowledge the mistreatment suffered by Ukrainians in Canada during and after the First World War and (for) the Government of Canada to undertake negotiations with the Ukrainian Canadian Committee to redress these injustices." What does this mean? At a minimum -
We call upon Mr. Crombie to stop ignoring Ukrainian-Canadian requests for action on this matter. The Secretary of State for Multiculturalism apparently believes that Ukrainian Canadians are not serious about this issue; that if he can quickly resolve the redress question with the NAJC he can thereafter ignore the legitimate demands of Ukrainian Canadians for an apology and redress. He is wrong. While we compliment the CLC and the UCC for taking up this issue it is now time for the UCC's national executive to forcefully press our case with the federal authorities. If Mr. Crombie won't listen now, election time will be a suitable moment to remind this government about its apparent hearing problem. One might have thought they would have become more attuned in the wake of the Deschenes Commission, but perhaps they feel we have all gone back to our Uncle Tom-like sleep, a victory of sorts having been won on the "war criminals" issue. That would be a grave error on their part.
Finally, we ask our fellow Japanese Canadians for their support, as we have extended ours to them. For any Canadian ethnic, religious, or racial community to receive an apology and redress at the expense of others who suffered similarly would be discriminatory, and is therefore unacceptable. Together we should stand, for united we will all win. One for all, and all for one.
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-010.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Saturday September 21st 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.