Barbed Wire

Ukrainians 'betrayed' in wartime camp

Written by Chris Dawson

Calgary Herald
31 August 1990

Barbed Wire

They came seeking free land and a life of freedom.

They found barbed wire and imprisonment.

Many came to avoid conscription into the Austrian army during the First World War, says Lubomyr Luciuk, a geography professor at Queen's University.

"Instead, they were placed in internment camps by the Canadian government."

Luciuk said that of 8,579 people incarcerated in Canada during the First World War, about 6,000 were Canadians of Ukrainian origin whose crime was having Austrian passports.

One of 26 Canadian internment camps was at Castle Mountain, west of Banff. Most of the 429 "enemy aliens" housed there between 1915 and 1917 were Ukrainians.

Luciuk was one of about 50 people from across Canada who ventured to the site Thursday for a commemorative service and wreath-laying ceremony. The interns felt a great sense of betrayal at ending up behind Canadian barbed wire, he said.

The former camp is set back in the forest just south of Highway 1A five kilometres west of the Castle Mountain junction.

On a day marking 70 years since the end of internment operations in Canada, barbed wire still lies in rusted coils on the ground, a stone circle still denotes a common cooking area and grown over trenches still separate inside from out, right from wrong.

It has been 70 years but Ukrainian Canadians haven't forgotten. They want an acknowledgement that the government acted unjustly.

Luciuk said it is a disgrace that while interns making 25 cents a day helped build roads, bridges - even the Banff Springs golf course - in the park, the federal government will not even allow an historical plaque at the site.

He said the Ukrainian Canadian Congress is pushing for all 26 camp sites across Canada to be recognized and marked. In addition, the, Ukrainian community is also asking for an amendment to the Emergencies Act (which replaced the old War Measures Act) to protect ethnic groups in the future.

Barbed Wire

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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk

We acknowledge the help in the preparation of this document by Amanda Anderson

Page layout, design, integration, and maintenance by G.W. Kokodyniak and V. Pawlowsky

Copyright © 1996-1997 InfoUkes Inc.


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Originally Composed: Tuesday December 3rd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.