It was to be expected that the settlement of the Japanese compensation claims would lead to the pressing of claims by other groups. Nor is it a surprise that the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, always alert to ways of grabbing some more from the public purse, would be among those looking for some of the money which might be available.
Clearly an injustice was done to Ukrainians and to others who were interned during World War one because they were wrongly identified as Austrians and labelled as enemy aliens. Bishop Budka's call for support for Austria-Hungary and Franz Joseph aside, the most cursory study of the reasons why the immigrants had come to Canada and the situation of their homeland with respect to Austria might have prevented the mistreatment of some 5,000 internees between 1914 and 1920. For that injustice, the government should apologize to the Ukrainians as it did to the Japanese, and as it should to others like the Chinese.
However, we believe that financial compensation would be inappropriate, especially if given to the community. Any payment to the estimated ten or twenty surviving internees would be so inadequate as to constitute an insult, while a large settlement would open up the entire question of compensating not the victims but their heirs.
What then of a payment to the community? The Ukrainian Canadian Committee, apparently, is starting with an initial request for a grant exceeding half a million dollars just to research the whole question. This is the same UCC that discriminates against a significant section of the Ukrainian Canadian community, the same UCC some of whose members think that Ukrainian Canadian history starts after their arrival following World War Two, the same UCC whose constituent organizations fell under the control of the post-WWII immigrants and set about excluding (by expulsion or derision) the very part of the community (that is, the earlier immigrants) whose cause they have now supposedly begun to champion. To charge the UCC with the administration of a compensation payment to the community would indeed be a travesty of the justice which presumable such a payment would be intended to serve.
In the course of Canadian history, there have been many injustices to many groups of people. While we are pleased that some of Canada's Native people, as well as Japanese Canadians, have attained some compensation for injustices done them, we do not believe that every grievance should be settled in the same way. Each case has its own specific features which should be taken into account.
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Document URL: http://www.infoukes.com/history/internment/booklet02/doc-038.html
Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
We acknowledge the help in the preparation of this document by Amanda Anderson
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Originally Composed: Sunday September 22nd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.