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Pact sets precedent, Ukrainian group says

Written by Alan Barnes

The Toronto Star
23 September 1988

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The compensation of Japanese Canadians for wartime internment establishes a precedent for resolving injustices to Ukrainian Canadians during World War I, says an official of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.

Ottawa announced yesterday a $291 million compensation agreement for Japanese Canadians interned by Canada during World War II.

"We celebrate their accomplishment," said Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, research director for the group's civil liberties committee, adding that the settlement "establishes a legal and moral precedent for resolving a very similar case" when injustices were done to Ukrainian Canadians between 1914-19.

During World War I more than 8,000 Ukrainians were interned in two dozen camps in Canada while another 80,000 were required to register with the government and report once a week.

Some lost property, many lost their right to vote and many died of illnesses related to the squalid living conditions.

The president of the Chinese Canadian National Council said yesterday the compensation agreement and apology would help his group in seeking redress for past injustice.

"I wouldn't want people to think we are jumping on the bandwagon" but the settlement "can only help us" in getting redress for the "strictly blatant racist act" carried out on Chinese people who came to Canada at the turn of the century, Garry Yee said.

Chinese immigrants had to pay between $50 and $500 to enter Canada from 1885 to 1923.

The 2,500 survivors of the "head tax" still living in Canada want a tax rebate equal to the tax they paid, plus inflation and interest.

Other groups that have brought their quarrels with the past into the open in recent years include Canadians who fought in the Spanish Civil War who don't qualify for veterans' benefits and Canadian Sikhs who were denied the right to vote until 1947.

Some Canadian army veterans who were held prisoners of war by the Japanese Imperial Army in Hong Kong during World War II have argued that Ottawa shouldn't compensate Japanese Canadians unless Japan compensates Canadian veterans.

Yesterday however, the Hong Kong Veterans' Association of Canada said it is not opposed to Ottawa's announcement.

Cliff Chadderton, chief executive officer of The War Amps of Canada and patron of the Hong Kong Veterans' Association, said the veterans' claim concerns the Japanese government.

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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

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Originally Composed: Sunday September 22nd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.