A prominent Ukrainian Canadian spoke out yesterday against a lobby group's bid for an apology and money from Ottawa to study compensation for Ukrainians interned during the First World War.
"We shouldn't be using our resources to pursue political aims," said Myron Spolsky, former executive director of the Manitoba section of the Ukrainian Community Development Committee. "Why bog down our community in a political issue that has very little relevance to the future?"
In a speech to the Manitoba Ukrainian Arts Council biennial meeting in Winnipeg, Spolsky said the issue of redress is being pushed by a small group of academics.
"There doesn't seem to be widespread community concern about this issue," he told an audience of about 100 at the Fort Garry Hotel.
Representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee met Multiculturalism Minister Gerry Weiner Oct. 28 to seek a formal apology for the internment of about 5,000 Ukrainians between 1914 and 1920.
The committee also asked for a $563,000 government grant to research the internment episode and do an economic impact study to determine possible compensation for the 10 to 20 surviving internees.
But Spolsky said there is no evidence the government seized and sold internees' property.
After Spolsky's speech, Dr. Stella Hryniuk, a professor of Ukrainian history at the University of Manitoba, agreed that the Ukrainian Canadian Committee's request for redress is premature and has the potential to divide the community.
"As a historian, we just don't have enough evidence," Hryniuk said. "It's a minority who feel this is the most opportune time politically to raise the issue. It's an election year and the Japanese redress was just settled."
Lubomyr Luciuk, a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, said Spolsky and Hryniuk are entitled to their opinions, but they don't represent the Ukrainian-Canadian community.
"I'm surprised and disappointed in Spolsky," Luciuk said. He said there is solid evidence that internees had property and valuables confiscated.
"I'd say Mr. Spolsky has an uninformed opinion. In every community there are people who don't want to stir things up and prefer the status quo."
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-029.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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