I was not involved in the Ukrainian Canadian community's campaign for acknowledgement and redress until the late 1980s. It was in 1988 that I first read about the Civil Liberties Commission's efforts to bring this unknown episode in Canadian history to light, in the pages of The Globe and Mail. Since then I have become involved and am proud to be listed as the honourary chair of the National Redress Council of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which has continued with the campaign begun by the Civil Liberties Commission in the mid-1980s.
Of course, as a survivor, possibly the only person left alive today who can still remember Canada's first national internment operations, and the sad impact they had on the Ukrainian Canadian community, I have lived with memories of that injustice all my life. I can never forget what was done to my family and me. We were innocent and yet we were treated as "enemy aliens." Worse, perhaps, the country then forgot about what was done to us. For many years it was almost as if it was all a bad dream, a nightmare it would be best if we forgot, certainly not something other Canadians wanted to talk about with us, the victims.
Today, looking over the many articles, editorials and other materials collected in this booklet, published on this issue over the past ten years, I am, frankly, heartened at the widespread national support that has grown up for the Ukrainian Canadian community's efforts. As these articles demonstrate, all we have ever asked for is to have the government acknowledge that what was done to the Ukrainian Canadians was unjust and to see our claims for justice addressed in a timely and honourable fashion. That has not yet happened.
Still, we have made some progress. A few years ago very few Canadians knew anything about what had been done to Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War. Now, the record is almost corrected. So I want to take the opportunity presented by the publication of this booklet to do two things. The first is to thank that small group of Ukrainian Canadian volunteers who have spearheaded the redress effort for over a decade. In particular, Mr. J. B. Gregorovich, who served as chairman of the Civil Liberties Commission and now chairs its successor, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, deserves especial recognition. He gathered a few good people around himself and, with hard work, perseverance and good cheer - and often in the face of duplicity, indifference and criticism from both within and outside the community - pushed this issue forward. I don't really know why he has given so much of himself to this cause but I want him to know that I believe all those who suffered needlessly in Canada's concentration camps would be as grateful to him as I am, if only they could only be here to tell him so. I want to also thank Mr. Peter Milliken, a Liberal MP who sits in the House of Commons as the member for Kingston and the Islands. He has conscientiously sought to place this issue before Parliament. In 1990, it was his effort which resulted in the passage of a Private Member's Bill which demonstrated all-party support for acknowledging the injustice of the internment operations and which endorsed the concept of providing appropriate redress. Having that bill passed was a historic achievement, not fully appreciated at the time, but one which will resound to Mr. Milliken's credit long after we are all gone. This document is reprinted in this collection. It deserves to be. For a survivor to see it is at least a partial vindication for what I endured.
I have only one other request. It is a simple one. I would ask the members of the House of Commons, from all the parties represented there today, to agree to do what is just and resolve the Ukrainian Canadian community's requests in a timely and honourable manner. I am now 85 years old. I would like to live to see the day when the record is finally set straight, when we, as a country, remember that past wrong and right that wrong. I do not think my hope is misplaced, given the Canada-wide support I sense in the articles reprinted here, and what I hear when I speak with friends, family members and others in the community about this issue. And so I ask, one more time, for justice. I can only pray that it will finally be done.
Mary Manko Haskett
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Copyright © 1994 Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Copyright © 1994 Lubomyr Luciuk
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Originally Composed: Tuesday December 3rd 1996.
Date last modified: Thursday October 30th 1997.