Winter camp at Cave and Basin, Alberta (Photo from the J. Anderson-Wilson Collection, courtesy of Whyte Museum of the Rockies)
The Chairman: Thank you very much. I will now call on Dr. Luciuk, from the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.
Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk (Civil Liberties Commission, Ukrainian Canadian Committee): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased to be here this evening on behalf of the Civil Liberties Commission of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.
Your report entitled Multiculturalism: Building the Canadian Mosaic, issued in June 1987, contains 13 statements relating to the issue of redress for Japanese Canadians. Equality Now, published in 1984, repeated that same theme. On page 98 of your report, as I note on my first page, the standing committee before me tonight suggests there should also be "redress for other communities that suffered historical injustices". That rather ambiguous statement is all that appears on other communities that have suffered state-sanctioned repression in this country.
Speaking tonight on behalf of the Civil Liberties Commission, I would like to go through this brief very quickly and touch on the major points. I want to stress that this is based on preliminary research and it is subject to revision.
The historical facts of the matter are as follows. In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I and Canada's entry into it on the side of Great Britain, a large number of Canadians suddenly found themselves, by government decree, declared to be enemy aliens. Over the next six years, various other repressive measures would be instituted, which subjected their communities, and in particular the Ukrainian-Canadian community, to a great deal of repression.
At the time there were about 171,000 Ukrainians who had come as immigrants to Canada, settling primarily in western Canada, although by 1905 significant communities were also developing in Quebec and Ontario. They had come principally from the Austrian crownlands of Galicia and Bukovyna, what we now think of as Western Ukraine, and as such their citizenship could be legally described as Austro-Hungarian, although in point of fact their nationality or ethnicity would have been Ukrainian.
These people were declared to be enemy aliens on the basis of citizenship, not nationality. The same War Measures Act that in 1941 would be used against the Japanese Canadians, with the tragedy that we are all aware of now, and in 1970 against our fellow French Canadians, the Québécois, was the War Measures Act passed in 1914 and first used primarily against Ukrainian Canadians.
About 8,500 men, women and children were interned in 24 concentration camps located across the country, and I have those shown on map one. I use that term "concentration camp"; I know it is a loaded term these days, but is in fact the term used at the time. Of those 8,500 enemy aliens, about 3,500 were actually prisoner of war in the traditional sense, people captured in arms. That is how Sir William Otter, the major-general in charge of these operations, described them. That left about 5,500 of whom 4,500 to 5,000 would have been of Ukrainian origin, and nothing more than civilians.
A further 88,000 individuals in Canada, again most of them of Ukrainian origin, were as enemy aliens subject to registration, and as a result forced periodically to report to the Royal Northwest Mounted Police or the local police authorities.
The reason I prefaced my remarks by saying further research is required is that unfortunately, and for reasons that still escape me, many of the most relevant archival documents about this period, stored at the Public Archives, now the National Archives of Canada, were destroyed, as far as we can determine, in the late 1950s. So the archival documentary evidence is limited, and survivors of course are few and far between. It is certain, however, and I wish to stress this point, that the major victims of the World War I internment operations were Ukrainian Canadians. There were also some Poles, Italians, Jews, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians, Russians, Bulgarians, and apparently even a few French Canadians.
Most of the genuine POWs - that is, those of German or actual Austrian background, of German ethnicity - were kept in first-class category camps. Fort Henry, Ontario, was one of them. The majority of the so-called Austro-Hungarian prisoners were transported to various camps often located in the hinterlands of Canada: Kapuskasing; Petawawa; Castle Mountain, Alberta; Spirit Lake, Quebec; and places like that. They were obliged to work there, at a rate of pay equivalent to that of a soldier, but far less than they would actually have been granted if they had been able to sell their labour on the free market. Families were of course uprooted in the process. So the internment operations of this period exploited the labour of many of these individuals.
Perhaps more telling in the long run was that whatever valuables these individuals had at the time of their arrest, either on themselves or property, valuable, securities and so on, were confiscated. Sir William observed:
He unfortunately does not tell us what that decision was. We do know however that over $32,000 in petty change, if you like, was left in the accounts of the Receiver General in 1920. The current-day value of that money is $1.5 million. That is an estimate done by Dr. Richard Hubert, a senior economist with the Toronto-Dominion Bank. The current-day value of the confiscated property, securities, and other valuables has yet to be estimated. Of course I do not need to stress to the members of this committee that the human costs of these internment operations were incalculable.
Daily existence in the camps was very hard. As I mentioned, the camps were often located in some of the more primitive areas of Canada at the time. In the brief you have photographs that illustrate this. As Sir William admitted, brutality was not uncommon. There was also the psychological trauma of being uprooted for no good reason and subjected to a variety of oppressive measures. One relative speaks about his wife's brother having had his spirit broken in Petawawa. Suicide was also not uncommon, and I quote the case of a William Perchaluk, who hanged himself in Alberta in 1916 while the military authorities were determining his nationality.
Questionable loyalty of course came up, and this same question was raised with the Québécois and the Japanese Canadians. Ukrainian Canadians protested to the government of the day that they were in no way sympathetic with the war aims of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Paul Wacyk wrote to the Deputy Minister of Education in Manitoba, for example:
Indeed, the loyalty of Ukrainians to the Dominion of Canada and the British Empire of the day should be proven by the fact that a Member of Parliament, a Mr. Mackie, from Edmonton East, wrote to Prime Minister Borden:
Some of those Ukrainian Canadians, by disguising their identities, their birthplaces, their names - even changing their names to "Smith" in some cases, as Mr. Mackie reported - won the Victoria Cross. Corporal Konowal was one of Canada's few Victoria Cross winners, a Ukrainian Canadian. Others who had managed to hide their birthplaces, as it were, change their identities, and enlist - probably as clear an indication of loyalty as anything else in time of war - when discovered to be "Austro-Hungarian" were thrown out of the armed forces and interned. That happened to a Mr. Chonomod, whose case I quote here, a gentlemen who was not only a homesteader but had lived in Canada for seven years at the time, was naturalized and married to a Canadian-born woman, and had enlisted. Yet because he was supposedly an Austrian he was interned. As he wrote, "I do not know on what charge I am being kept here".
This internment operation was accompanied by a variety of other measures that I cannot go into in great detail tonight. One of the worst so far as the community was concerned occurred in 1917 with passage of the War Measures Act. What that effectively did was disenfranchise something like 62% to 70% of the Ukrainians who had immigrated to Canada and had been living there, homesteading on the prairies. There was very little protest against that, although Canada's oldest newspaper, the Daily British Whig, today the Kingston Whig-Standard, wrote at the time:
After the war ended in 1918, a number of other measures were taken against Ukrainian Canadians and other ethnic minority groups in Canada. As part of the "Red Scare", many of these individuals were kept interned until 1920, two years after the end of the war. A number - although we are not exactly sure how many - were deported. People who were enemy aliens in 1914, without ever having left the internment camps in which they were forced to work and live, became suddenly dangerous foreigners, "Bolsheviks" who had to be kept imprisoned.
The long-term consequences of this of course are varied and complex to unravel. We do know, however, that as late as 1941 an RCMP informant working within the Ukrainian-Canadian community said that the leaders of that community were still "in fear of the barbed-wire fence". American intelligence agents of the OSS, the forerunner of today's CIA, said:
People who survived it report that it was "a bad time to be a Ukrainian". I got that quotation from the Montreal Gazette. Others say:
Today, on behalf of the Civil Liberties Commission of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee, I am reminding you, and through you I hope the nation, of what Ukrainians as a people have suffered in this country, and I am calling for the following recommendation to be passed through you to the Government of Canada. It appears on the last page. It is recommended that the Parliament of Canada officially acknowledge the mistreatment suffered by Ukrainians in Canada during and after World War I and that the government undertake negotiations with the Ukrainian Canadian Committee to redress these injustices.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe a time for atonement has finally come. I hope you will assist our community in realizing it. Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for your presentation.
Mr. Epp (Thunder Bay - Nipigon): I am pleased that both of you are here and that we have the statement to the committee and to the nation on actions the Canadian government took out of ignorance in the circumstances of 1914-18. The irony of it all should be recognized. These were people who had come to Canada to make a better life for themselves, in most cases fleeing the autocratic regime they had known under the Hapsburgs in the Hungarian kingdom in particular. It is profoundly ironic that they were regarded as supporters of that system when the war broke out.
It is difficult for politicians to respond appropriately to the case you have laid before us. The matter of Japanese-Canadian redress, a long-slumbering issue, as this one has been, was put at the top of the national human rights agenda in June, 1984, by the man who is now Prime Minister of Canada. We have waited more than three years, watched and pressed to have action on it.
In the next few weeks this committee will be involving itself with that matter and I should not prejudge the eventual result. It gradually becomes necessary to have additional items put on the agenda. We have been waiting to see what government would do to follow through on a promise given implicitly in June, 1984, and we have become more and more anxious that it will never be done by this government. Then it makes it appropriate that other do it.
It is important to document this. If preliminary, this lays out the evidence gathered and I presume the work will go on to make the case more comprehensive. There is a poem by Dale Szeroff, the Canadian poet, which you might want to add to it. I remember him reading it to a gathering one evening and focusing on his father who went through internment in Manitoba. It might strike an appropriate motif in your making the case.
Dr. Luciuk: In my brief I indicate that the Canadian government knew it was interning Ukrainians, although there was some understandable confusion about national identity or ethnicity vis-à-vis citizenship. The problem could have been clarified rather quickly and in fact many reports -
Mr. Lopez: Prejudices caused during the war are not within the committee's mandate. These come under the responsibility of the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General for Canada, not ours. I would like that we stick to our mandate. This is an excellent presentation. It is a true relation of situations that occurred in the past, but these situations are not within the committee's mandate. I would agree that we stick to our mandate and that we leave out those questions concerning the Department of Justice or other departments.
Mr. Marchi: Mr. Chairman, I would like to speak to that point of order. I am not sure it is a valid point of order, because I think if you notice in the opening lines of the brief it is in response and was triggered in fact by references that we made in our report last June with respect to the redress of Japanese Canadians, and then we went on to mention other forms of redress. I apologize I was not here to hear the testimony of his colleague, but based on what I heard he was referring to a statement we made in the report.
Also with respect to the Japanese Canadian redress - and I was going to address the procedure - it is the Minister of State for Multiculturalism who is being looked upon as offering leadership and a satisfactory and fair solution to the Japanese Canadian redress. As long as that continues to prevail in our federal government, I think their presentation - you might want to disagree with it - but certainly I cannot find it out of order.
The Chairman: I have to agree with you that it is within our order to look into these injustices and we have already made the precedent with the Japanese Canadians. So I am sorry, Mr. Lopez, it is within our order to do that. So could we please continue?
Dr. Luciuk: I would like to suggest to Mr. Lopez, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, that this brief I have submitted to you, although Mr. Epp and I have corresponded on this issue and I have spoken to Mr. Marchi many years ago about it, was in fact specifically triggered by your report and the comments I saw there, as Mr. Marchi has pointed out. It is also my understanding, whether in the current government or the one prior to it, that it has always been the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism who has addressed the issue of redress for Japanese Canadians.
My feeling on that score, and I have handed out a page or two of personal observations and recommendations which are perhaps more closely tied to your report, is that any apology or redress offered to my fellow Japanese Canadians would be discriminatory if it ignored the experience of Ukrainians in Canada in World War I - and others, I might add, such as Bulgarians, Italians, Poles, Jews, and so on. The Canadian Jewish community in Montreal was very adversely affected by these World War I internment operations, although they may have forgotten that by now.
My point therefore is that any kind of official apology for state-sanctioned repressive measures taken against any minority group, be it visible or non-visible, Ukrainian, Japanese, Québécois, Jew, what have you, religious, cultural and perhaps even politically, should be across the board. Otherwise we are discriminating anew. So in calling for atonement there are a range of possible solutions that I recommend in my personal brief. The one in the statement that represents the CLC's view simply says that the Canadian Parliament should acknowledge the injustice that was done and that the Government of Canada should open negotiations with the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.
In my own comments, I suggest a range of possible responses, which would include raising plaques at some of these historical sites where internees were kept, trilingual signs at those places. In the directory that this committee recommended of multicultural sites, I recommend that these internment camps be listed with full referencing.
Incidentally, I might point out by way of a side issue that many of the ethnocultural sites in Canada are in a very advanced state of deterioration, and I did not notice in your report any indication that you might recommend that there be improvements of sites. For example, the first Ukrainian to come to Canada officially, Mr. Pylypiv, his tombstone near Edmonton is virtually falling apart. Frankly, I find that a sad reflection on my own community, as a Canadian of Ukrainian origin, but also if the official parks and heritage people are getting around to putting up plaques, they might want to fix the site first.
Finally, of course, I address the issue of financial compensation. I pointed out that $32,000 in present day value is $1.5 million. That is a very conservative estimate, I might add, and does not begin calculating the value of the labour, the value of properties, and of course the psychological trauma of communities being uprooted. We tend to forget this now. I mean, you must remember that the Ukrainian community, having undergone this, went shortly after that into the Depression with the rest of Canada. Then came world War II and the renewed fears of loyalty and barbed-wire fences. Then, of course, came the 1950s and the Cold War and the refugee problem. By the time we got into the 1960s we got into multiculturalism, and we are only now coming around to it that my generation, going back and looking in the archives, what do we find? The archives are missing.
It is a very hard case to make. We do not have survivors, as our fellow Japanese Canadians do. We do not even have the archives. This makes our case harder, but I think it is no less worthy of your consideration.
Mr. Epp (Thunder Bay - Nipigon): I wonder, Mr. Chairman, if I might say a general thing about it and then ask a question or two regarding the other brief.
I wonder whether we might, with every respect both ways, have the possibility of differing on the procedure. I think it would not be unfair to other communities to have redress for a deliberate attempt to destroy a community, which I think was the case for the Japanese Canadians. I am not convinced there was a similar intention for others. It is a case to be made.
I think when we have a clear-cut case from the 1940s and there are survivors still with us, I would like to have the possibility or acceptance of a difference on the strategy here, so one might deal with it in the very, very clear recognition - I fear what this will do for the bureaucrats, because I am sure there has been injustice and in the other departments this has been a factor - that it is a precedent that the Canadian people do have, for all of our desire to take pride in our past, various patches of dishonour to deal with. It is something that will have to be done.
I am tempted to allude to some relating to my community, but I will not now. We do have these areas in which there has been discriminatory action. Over time I think we want to deal with each of those and rectify them and to have national, historic sites and monuments come to grips with this and to recognize sites and so on, as clearly one more of those. There are various things to be done.
If I might, Mr. Chairman, and without taking too much time, I will turn to the other brief, which is very interesting. It makes important points to encourage us in pressing for amendment to the bill. We shall certainly be doing it to try to strengthen the bill to get beyond "encourage".
I notice on page 1 of the brief there are several sentences about discriminatory funding and discriminatory actions by the government. I wonder if I could have some expansion on it. Do you think this is primarily as a result of utterly inadequate funding for the multiculturalism sector? Do you see divide-and-conquer tactics being played by government in the area of ethnocultural communities?
Ms Zawerucha: I would not want to believe that in this day and age it would be divide and conquer. I would like to think positively. I would think it must be lack of funding. I think for the past few years we have noticed it. I do not deny there is need for funds for the visible minority for their work in their ethnocultural communities. Possible because we come from the Ukrainian ethnocultural community, which is an older community, we seem to feel we have become invisible all of a sudden and supposedly should be funding ourselves. I do not think this is the way we should go into this 21st century.
Mr. Epp (Thunder Bay - Nipigon): I will end there, Mr. Chairman. I have taken more than enough time. Thank you.
Mr. Marchi: I had some calls to make and therefore I missed the first part, for which I apologize.
Coming to the whole question of redress, it has been my contention - at least in the more prolific case perhaps in terms of the public profile of the Japanese-Canadian redress - that the wrong Minister and ministry is handling the problem of trying to come up with the resolution. Based on what I have seen, read and learned from discussions with the National Association of Japanese Canadians, this is not a multicultural concern or multicultural problem. It happens that most of those who were interned, whose properties were taken, who lost basically everything and had to start from scratch, were Canadians - Canadians of Japanese ancestry. Therefore it became a question, like Ricardo had mentioned in his point of order, a question of justice or an injustice perpetrated against fellow Canadians.
Therefore, when the past Liberal government had begun to look into the Japanese Canadian redress, it was the Minister of Justice who was looking at it. Then somehow it evolved that the issue fell on the doorstep of the Minister of State for Multiculturalism and that is where it has been with the current administration and that is where our committee comes in. But I think it gives the wrong perception. If we are going to try to mobilize Canadian public opinion on the side of trying to correct an injustice and to trying to eliminate the possibilities of similar action occurring in the future, I think public opinion has to be educated on the facts.
We cannot have a Canadian public opinion that is looking at the Japanese Canadian question or the question involving Canadians of Ukrainian ancestry or the Italian Canadians as simply and purely a multicultural-related issue and saying here we go again, another group of ethnics wanting something from this country - can they not be satisfied? That type of lingo will not heal the wounds we are trying to heal.
That is why I was curious to find out from you whether you would want, in terms of your last recommendation, a federal government to look at the problem from the perspective of the multiculturalism committee or the multiculturalism Minister, or do you think it perhaps better belongs in hands of the Minister of Justice? I am not trying to pass the buck, I am just saying that I think the solution we arrive at, and how quickly we arrive at it, also depends on how we address it in terms of the process, because I believe on the question of the Japanese-Canadian redress we got off on the wrong foot and it has been very difficult to switch feet.
Dr. Luciuk: I particularly agree with your final comments that the issue of redress for our fellow Japanese Canadians has devolved. if you like, from one level of Cabinet to an admittedly lower level of Cabinet, and that has been unfortunate.
As for where this might best be solved, I think that is more up to Parliament than for me to suggest. But as I pointed out just before you came, the same War Measures Act that was used against our fellow Japanese Canadians was used against the Ukrainians and others in World War I. So to correct a recent past injustice, one must first go back to the past injustice. And it is a question of justice, not one simply of multiculturalism. There was an enormous amount of racial discrimination against Ukrainians. If you look at The Winnipeg Tribune, 1899, an editorial was entitled "Galicians versus White Men", which is "Ukrainians versus white men". We forget this now. I sit before you, you all look at me. I am white, and my English is fine, and you all think he is just one of us. But not in those days. So it was a racial question as well.
There is a new book out by Desmond Morton about Canadian veterans returning to Canada after World War I, and the issue of naturalized Canadians as enemy aliens is raised there very briefly. He mentions that 62% of those classified as enemy aliens were in fact naturalized Canadian citizens. So they are just as Canadian as a Japanese Canadian who happened to be of a particular ancestry, or racial origin if you prefer.
This is an issue of justice, whether it is Ukrainians, Québécois, or Japanese, or any of the smaller groups that were also interned in World War I. I see it as basically an issue of fundamental justice. I too, as you, am concerned about the way it has ended up in the lap of the Minister of Multiculturalism, particularly since none of them seems to have been eager to capitalize on the public wave of sympathy the Japanese Canadian association has been able to evoke.
I have spoken with Mr. Miki. The two of us sitting over coffee in Winnipeg about a month ago talked about Ukrainians and Japanese and came to understand a great deal more about each other as Canadians, as both being, if you like, the inheritors of a past act of injustice. It was fascinating. I am not in any way trying to take anything away from the National Association of Japanese Canadians. That point has to be made clear.
Perhaps that answers one of Mr. Epp's concerns as well. The Ukrainian Canadian Committee, as far as I understand it, stands in support of appropriate redress for the Japanese Canadians who were unjustly treated during World War II. It simply says if there is justice for one group there is justice for all. You cannot have selective justice. It is a contradiction in terms.
If there is to be an apology in Parliament, why not a universal apology, with specific references made, if you like? If there is going to be "plaqueing", why not for...? For example, there was a controversy in Vancouver about whether or not a plaque should go up. I wrote at the time, as a Ukrainian Canadian, that I felt they should have a plaque there. Well, they did not get it.
We have co-operated, as I am sure you know, in recent years with a variety of other ethnic groups, some visible minorities and others, on issues like the Deschênes commission. We want to work in tandem with the Japanese Canadians, and we will resolve it wherever the Members of Parliament, and perhaps the Senate, decide it should be resolved. If it is before the Minister of Justice, fine. If it is before a select Cabinet committee, fine. If it is before this standing committee, great. Wherever. The forum matters less to me than resolving this injustice.
Mr. Marchi: What I was going to mention, and you touched upon it as well, using the Japanese Canadian redress experience, the other aspect that allowed governments to perhaps dither, and they talk of both parties in power, was the perceived - rightly or wrongly - splits within the Japanese Canadian community itself. That is to say the publicized versions of those citizens within those communities suggesting other solutions put forward that were different from the NAJC position. Therefore, you had a government saying well hold on, NAJC, there are other viewpoints out there. For some time that slowed down the momentum, and it took up a considerable debate across the country as to whose version of the injustice was correct, and whose version of the solution was correct.
When we are talking about a blanket solution I was going to ask you whether there have been any official discussions between your community and the Japanese Canadian community. Do they understand, in the discussions you have had with Art Miki, for instance, that you believe that a government action - simply referring itself to the Japanese Canadian redress issue - would be taken somewhat by your community as being good but simply not enough?
I am just wondering whether there exists the possibility for that kind of collaboration, because it is extremely crucial to having governments move on where they believe there is to be a consensus found. If that blanket approval is going to work it takes more than simply government and moving it, because unless they perceive there is almost a consensus out there among two or three or four major communities it is going to be difficult to do it on a blanket, and they would probably prefer to do it on a one on one.
Dr. Luciuk: Of course we live in a democracy, so one is always going to have people who have different ideas about how problems should be resolved, and that is fair, and that is the way it should be.
In the case of Ukrainian Canadians and the relationship to the Japanese Canadian community, I do know that a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee was present at a recent rally here in Toronto where a number of ethnocultural communities were represented in support of redress for the Japanese Canadians. Of course extending that kind of support to their community suggests that we would appreciate an equal consideration when our issue is raised.
My discussions with Mr. Miki were informal and personal, and I stand to be corrected on this, but the national executive of the Ukrainian Canadian Committee has in fact communicated with the government in support of the Japanese Canadian position.
There have been letters to various Members of Parliament, and to officials in the Cabinet, including letters from myself, suggesting that the Ukrainian Canadian issue be raised at the same time, but this is all slowly coalescing.
So it is my personal view, and I believe that of the Civil Liberties Commission, that these various groups, and I would include among them Chinese Canadians, Jewish Canadians, French Canadians, Italian Canadians, Polish Canadians and others, will in fact work in tandem to ensure that when justice is offered by way of an apology, or by raising a plaque, or financial redress, whatever package is selected, and I do not say which one should be, that all communities will be working together on that.
I was very pleased to see the Minister of Multiculturalism announce the establishment of a chair of ethnicity or ethnic studies in Canada, a kind of universal, general chair. I think that is very important. In my personal remarks I suggested that kind of chair is very useful, because it will then be able to study the experience of various Canadian ethnocultural communities and religious communities in comparison.
Too often, unfortunately, as perhaps the both of you have been suggesting, the Japanese community is over here, the Ukrainians are over there, the Chinese are here, the Jews are there, and we are all asking, or appearing to ask, for a piece of the pie. I am not interested in a piece of the pie. I was born in Kingston, Ontario. This is my pie; it is your pie; we all share the pie. I do not have to ask. I simply have alerted members of this committee, and through you, the government, to historical injustice. How that is corrected is up to you to decide.
The Chairman: On that note, I would like to thank you both very much for appearing before the committee, and for your very valuable input. Thank you very much.
Dr. Luciuk: Thank you very much.
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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Wednesday December 4th 1996.
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