The internment camp near Edgewood, British Columbia, 1916 (Photo courtesy of US National Archives)
The Ukrainian Canadian Committee yesterday presented a list of five demands it says the federal government should meet to atone for the internment of more than 8,000 Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War.
The group did not ask for a formal apology or for immediate financial redress, but proposed a timetable for resolving their concerns.
"This is a rational and sensible proposal, and we are convinced it will be dealt with expeditiously by the government," Dmytro Cipywnyk, president of the committee, said in an interview.
He said Multiculturalism Minister Gerry Weiner personally endorsed the package and promised to present it to the cabinet for approval before the end of November. (The federal election is slated for Nov.21.)
"I suspect this is not just a hollow election promise. Mr. Weiner was very sincere and I am confident that whatever party wins this election will carry through with his promise," Dr. Cipywnyk said.
Mr. Weiner could not be reached for comment.
The committee has demanded that the federal government:
The Ukrainian Canadian Committee says that 8,579 Ukrainian immigrants, most of them naturalized Canadians, were uprooted from their farms and towns in Western Canada and shipped to work camps during the First World War. Many of their homes and businesses were confiscated and sold at bargain-basement prices.
A further 88,000 people, mostly Ukrainian Canadians, were labelled "enemy aliens", and were forced to report regularly to police and had to carry identity papers at all times.
"Our ultimate goal is to get acknowledgement for the fact that a terrible wrong was done. We want to make sure these atrocities are recorded in the history books so future generations can learn from past mistakes," said Lubomyr Luciuk, chairman of the committee's civil liberties group.
"It's really premature to discuss the issue of redress, symbolic or otherwise," he said.
Last month, the federal government announced a compensation package worth more than $300-million for Japanese-Canadians who were interned or forcibly relocated between 1942 and 1949.
The package included $21,000 for each surviving internee, a $12-million fund for Japanese-Canadian educational, cultural and social activities, and $24-million for the establishment of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, to fight against racism and promote harmony between racial groups in Canada.
At the time, Mr. Weiner said the situation of Japanese Canadians was "unique and unparalleled" and would not set a precedent for compensating other groups wronged in the past.
The Chinese Canadian National Council is also seeking $23-million in redress from the federal government for a "head tax" imposed on all Chinese immigrants to Canada between 1885 and 1923. The tax, paid by more than 81,000 immigrants ranged from $50 to $500.
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-027.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Sunday September 22nd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.