Internee work party leaving Castle Mountain internment camp, Alberta (Photo from the Alpine Club of Canada Collection, courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies)
The article Lining up for compensation (Free Press, October 22) by Christopher Dafoe seems to be offensive to the Ukrainian community. It states that "everybody you meet these days seems to have a Ukrainian grandmother back home cooking perogies" and therefore Ukrainian Canadians are eligible to request compensation from the Canadian government for Ukrainians interned during the First World War.
This statement is unfair and insulting to the Ukrainian Canadian community, not only in Manitoba but throughout Canada, because it identifies Ukrainians in a very narrow perspective. Many Ukrainian Canadians saw their freedom suspended when they were ordered to regularly check in with local authorities at the start of the First World War because they came from a country (Ukraine) that presumably was allied with Germany. Therefore, more than 8,000 people found themselves imprisoned for political reasons they could not understand.
The internment issue is not premature, it will not hold back political issues in the Ukrainian Canadian community and it will not divide any community as certain people have stated in recent weeks (Ukrainian-Canadian lobby for redress opposed, Free Press, November 6). It is a fact that, between 1914 and 1920, Ukrainian Canadians faced surveillance and imprisonment; that the federal government at that time allowed for the arrest, detention and monitoring of aliens living in Canada. Some were interned because they did not have proper citizenship credentials and eventually were sent to internment camps throughout Canada.
Peter J. Manastyrsky
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-033.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.