Tens of thousands of Ukrainian Canadians living in this country at the outbreak of the First World War were forced out of their jobs and even sent to internment or concentration camps across the country.
Few people know that three of those camps were located right here in Quebec.
For Queen's University professor Lubomyr Luciuk, who's touring Eastern Canada to lecture students on the subject, the tragic fate of his Ukrainian Canadian ancestors constitutes a major "blank page" in this country's history.
"What happened to Ukrainian Canadians isn't as well known as, for example, the treatment received by Japanese Canadians in the Second World War," Luciuk said last night, prior to his scheduled appearance at Concordia University.
"It happened a long time ago, and many victims of the camps have since died, and those who are still alive have been afraid to raise the issue, much like one fears a fire after getting burned.
"But you simply cannot bury something like that and pretend that it didn't happen; you can only hide it for a while," Luciuk said.
The Queen's professor makes clear he isn't minimizing the Japanese Canadian internments, which he terms "a tragedy as cruel and painful as the one suffered by Ukrainian Canadians."
And he admits he was happy to see Prime Minister Brian Mulroney apologizing earlier this year for the treatment given to Japanese Canadians some four decades ago.
"That was long overdue," he said.
Now Luciuk and dozens of his fellow Ukrainian Canadians are putting pressure on the Mulroney government to get some kind of acknowledgement that the measures taken against their parents and grandparents was unwarranted and unjust.
"We're not after some big apology or some huge financial compensation," Luciuk said.
"But we would like some acknowledgement that what was done was wrong, so such a treatment can never be imposed again on people in this country."
The Ukrainian Canadian Committee has submitted a list of measures to which it hopes the federal government will agree.
The committee wants Ottawa to erect historical markers at internment camp sites where Ukrainian Canadians were imprisoned.
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-037.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Sunday September 22nd 1996.
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