Hard on the heels of Ottawa's settlement with Japanese Canadians, Multiculturalism Minister Gerry Weiner has opened consultations with the Ukrainian Canadian Committee about internments during the First World War.
The committee is seeking a formal acknowledgement of the wrongs done to Ukrainian Canadians, about 5,000 of whom were interned as enemy aliens between 1914 and 1920.
When he announced a compensation package for Japanese Canadians last month, Mr. Weiner said the experience of that group, many of whom were stripped of their property and interned during the Second World War, was unique.
But members of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee disagree with that assessment. Yesterday, Lubomyr Luciuk, a spokesman for the group, said that at a meeting with Mr. Weiner on Wednesday -- the committee's first formal meeting with a Cabinet minister on the subject -- they pressed their case for an acknowledgement of the mistreatment suffered by Ukrainian Canadians.
The group is also seeking individual compensation for the few survivors from that period, "some kind of symbolic redress" such as a community fund, and changes to the Emergencies Act, the act that replaced the War Measures Act under which the Ukrainian and Japanese Canadians were interned. (The new act does not prohibit internment based on citizenship, Mr. Luciuk said.)
As well, the committee would like to see historical markers placed at the site of internment camps -- such as the camp in Banff, Alta. The inmates of that camp built the Banff Springs golf course, he said.
Mr. Luciuk said his delegation was pleased with the attentiveness of Mr. Weiner and his staff, and said the meeting represented "the opening of a process of consultation leading to negotiations."
However, a spokesman for Mr. Weiner's office said the Wednesday meeting was "just an initial information meeting... We're waiting for a formal proposal. We're taking this one step at a time."
The national executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee is meeting in Winnipeg later this month to settle on a firm proposal, Mr. Luciuk said.
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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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