Ukrainian Canadian internment
The Ukrainian Canadian internment was part of the confinement of "enemy aliens" in Canada during and for two years after the end of the First World War, lasting from 1914 to 1920, under the terms of the War Measures Act that would be used again, in the Second World War, against Japanese Canadians.
About 4,000 Ukrainian men and some women and children of Austro-Hungarian citizenship were kept in twenty-four internment camps and related work sites – also known, at the time, as concentration camps. Many were released in 1916 to help with the mounting labour shortage. Another 80,000 were registered as "enemy aliens" and obliged to regularly report to the police. Those interned had whatever little wealth they owned confiscated and were forced to work for the profit of their gaolers.
Most of those interned were young men apprehended while trying to cross the border into the U.S. to look for jobs; attempting to leave Canada was illegal. During the First World War, a growing sentiment against "enemy aliens" had manifested itself amongst Canadians. The British government urged Canada not to act indiscriminately against subject nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire who were in fact friendly to the British Empire. However, Ottawa took a hard line. These enemy-born citizens were treated as social pariahs, and many lost their employment. Under the 1914 War Measures Act, "aliens of enemy nationality" were compelled to register with authorities. About 70,000 Ukrainians from Austro-Hungary fell under this description. 8,579 males and some women and children were interned by the Canadian Government, including 5,954 Austro-Hungarians, most of whom were probably ethnic Ukrainians. Most of the interned were poor or unemployed single men, although 81 women and 156 children (mainly Germans in Vernon and Ukrainians at Spirit Lake) had no choice but to accompany their menfolk to two of the camps, in Spirit Lake, near Amos, Quebec, and Vernon, British Columbia. Some of the internees were Canadian-born and others were naturalized British subjects, although most were recent immigrants. Citizens of the Russian Empire were generally not interned.
Many of these internees were used for forced labour in internment camps. Conditions at the camps varied, and the Castle Mountain Internment Camp – where labour contributed to the creation of Banff National Park – was considered exceptionally harsh and abusive. The internment continued for two more years after the war had ended, although most Ukrainians were paroled into jobs for private companies by 1917. Even as parolees, they were still required to report regularly to the police authorities. Federal and provincial governments and private concerns benefited from the internees' labour and from the confiscation of what little wealth they had, a portion of which was left in the Bank of Canada at the end of the internment operations on 20 June 1920. A small number of internees, including men considered to be "dangerous foreigners", labour radicals, or particularly troublesome internees, were deported to Europe after the war, largely from the Kapuskasing camp, which was the last to be shut down.
Of those interned, 109 died of various diseases and injuries sustained in the camp, six were killed while trying to escape, and some – according to Sir William Dillon Otter's final report – went insane or committed suicide as a result of their confinement.
A list of the camps follows:
|Name of Camp / Location||Date of opening||Date of closing||Description|
|Montreal, Quebec||13 August 1914||30 November 1918||Immigration Hall|
|Kingston, Ontario||18 August 1914||3 November 1917||Fort Henry|
|Winnipeg, Manitoba||1 September 1914||20 July 1916||Fort Osborne Barracks / Fort Garry|
|Halifax, Nova Scotia||8 September 1914||3 October 1918||The Citadel|
|Vernon, British Columbia||18 September 1914||20 February 1920||Provincial Government Building|
|Nanaimo, British Columbia||20 September 1914||17 September 1915||Provincial Government Building|
|Brandon, Manitoba||22 September 1914||29 July 1916||Exhibition Building|
|Lethbridge, Alberta||30 September 1914||7 November 1916||Exhibition Building|
|Petawawa, Ontario||10 December 1914||8 May 1916||Militia Camp / Tents|
|Toronto, Ontario||14 December 1914||2 October 1916||Stanley Barracks|
|Kapuskasing, Ontario||14 December 1914||24 February 1920||Bunk Houses|
|Niagara Falls, Ontario||15 December 1915||31 August 1918||The Armoury|
|Beauport, Quebec||28 December 1914||22 June 1916||The Armoury|
|Spirit Lake, Quebec||13 January 1915||28 January 1917||Bunk Houses|
|Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario||13 January 1915||29 January 1918||The Armoury|
|Amherst, Nova Scotia||17 April 1915||27 September 1919||Malleable Iron Works|
|2 June 1915||29 July 1917||Tents & Bunk Houses|
|9 June 1915||21 October 1918||Rented Premises|
|Banff-Castle Mountain and Cave & Basin, Alberta||14 July 1915||15 July 1917||Dominion Park Building at Cave & Basin, Tents at Castle Mountain|
|Edgewood, British Columbia||19 August 1915||23 September 1916||Bunk Houses|
|Revelstoke-Field-Otter, British Columbia||6 September 1915||23 October 1916||Bunk Houses|
|Jasper, Alberta||8 February 1916||31 August 1916||Dominion Parks Buildings|
|13 October 1918||21 March 1919||Railway Cars|
|Valcartier, Quebec||24 April 1915||23 October 1915||Militia Camp / Tents|
Since 1985, the organized Ukrainian-Canadian community has sought official acknowledgment for this World War I internment, conducting a campaign that underscored the moral, legal and political obligation to redress the historical wrong. The campaign, spearheaded by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, included the memorialization of places of internment as historic sites. Currently there are twenty plaques and memorials across Canada commemorating the internment, including two at the locations of former concentration camps in Banff National Park. These have been placed by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and its supporters.
In 1994 Yurij Luhovy and the National Film Board of Canada released a feature-length documentary about the internment operations entitled Freedom Had a Price. While shooting the film, Yurij discovered never before seen pictures of the camps and donated them to the National Archives of Canada.
On November 25, 2005, Conservative MP Inky Mark's Private Member's Bill C-331, "Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act", received Royal Assent. This act acknowledges that persons of Ukrainian origin were interned in Canada during the First World War and it legally obliges the Government of Canada to negotiate "an agreement concerning measures that may be taken to recognize the internment" for educational and commemorative projects.
On May 9, 2008, the Canadian government established a $10 million fund. The Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund uses the interest earned on that amount to fund projects that commemorate the experience of thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans interned between 1914–20 and the many others who suffered a suspension of their civil liberties and freedoms. The funds are themselves held in trust by the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.
Thought to be the last known survivor of the internment measures – Mary Manko Haskett – was only a child of 6 when she was interned with her family at Spirit Lake. She died in July 2007. In 2007 another survivor – Mary Hancharuk, born in the Spirit Lake camp – was found; aged 92 – making her the last known survivor of the internment operations. She died in 2008.
On 12 September 2009 the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF) was announced formally with a notice published in The Globe and Mail describing how individuals or groups can apply for funding for commemorative, educational and cultural activities recalling Canada's first national internment operations.
One of the first projects funded by the CFWWIRF was the documentary Jajo's Secret directed by filmmaker James Motluk and broadcast on OMNI TV in 2009. This movie tells the story of the discovery by Motluk of a parole certificate issued to his late grandfather, Elias, in 1918.
The "Kingston Symposium" of the CFWWIRF's Endowment Council was held in Kingston, Ontario on 17–20 June 2010, bringing together community activists, descendants, academics and artists to discuss ways and means for commemorating Canada's first national internment operations.
On 26 November 2011 the Spirit Lake Camp Interpretive Centre was opened officially, a ceremony attended by the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Canadian Citizenship and Immigration, who referred to the internment operations as "a blight" on Canadian history. The CFWWIRF's Endowment Council made the funding of this interpretive centre one of its top granting priorities, budgeting $400,000 over five years for this project (more details are available in the annual reports of the CFWWIRF, found at www.internmentcanada.ca). A permanent exhibit on Canada's first national interment operations will be opened at the Cave & Basin site, in Banff National Park, 20 June 2013.
- Human rights in Canada
- Ukrainian Canadian
- Ukrainian Austrian internment (First World War)
- Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund
- "Internment of Ukrainians in Canada 1914-1920". Retrieved 1 April 2010.
- Frances Swyripa, and John Herd Thompson, eds. Loyalties in Conflict: Ukrainians in Canada During the Great War (1983) p 4
- Luciuk 2006, p 50.
- Kordan 2002, pp 16–51.
- Kordan 2002, pp 90–115.
- Article 26 June 1915 Crag & Canyon - "Internment Camp Started"
- Article 19 June 1915 Crag & Canyon - "Internment Camp Formed"
- Kordan & Melnycky 1991.
- Kordan & Mahovsky 2004, pp 27–41.
- Suicide attempt at Cave & Basin camp
- source: Report on Internment Operations Canada • Report By Major-General Sir William Otter, K.C.B., C.V.O • Ottawa, Thomas Mulvey Internment Operations, 1914 1920 Director Internment Operations Printer To the King's Most Excellent Majesty, 1921 Canada's first national internment operations, 1914-1920
- Kordan & Mahovsky 2004, pp 45–62.
- Please see the film's page at Luhovy's website.
- "Internment camp survivor found" (retrieved February 10, 2014)
- The Globe and Mail national edition, September 12, 2009 (Focus & Book section).
- For more information about the Endowment Council go to InternmentCanada.ca.
- For a list of the participants and other information go to InternmentCanada.ca and look under "Media Releases."
- Kordan, Bohdan and Peter Melnycky (1991), In the Shadow of the Rockies: Diary of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, Edmonton: CIUS Press.
- Farney, James, and Bohdan S. Kordan, "The Predicament of Belonging: The Status of Enemy Aliens in Canada, 1914," Journal of Canadian Studies 39.1 (2005) 74-89 online
- Kordan, Bohdan (2002), Enemy Aliens: Prisoners of War: Internment in Canada During the Great War, Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Kordan, Bohdan and Craig Mahovsky (2004), A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian Canadian Redress, Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press.
- Luhovy, Yurij (1994), Freedom Had a Price: Canada's First National Internment Operations 1914–1920, VHS/DVD, 55 min.
- Luciuk, Lubomyr (2000) Searching for Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada and the Migration of Memory (University of Toronto Press, reprinted in 2001).
- Luciuk, Lubomyr (2001), In Fear of the Barbed Wire Fence: Canada's First National Internment Operations and the Ukrainian Canadians, 1914-1920, Kingston: Kashtan Press.
- Luciuk, Lubomyr (2006), Without Just Cause, Kingston: Kashtan Press.
- Martynowych, Orest (1991), “Registration, Internment and Censorship”, in Ukrainians in Canada: The formative period, 1891–1924, pp 323–34. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. ISBN 0-920862-76-4.
- Swyripa, Frances and John Herd Thompson, eds. (1983) Loyalties in Conflict: Ukrainians in Canada During the Great War; 213pp; 8 essays by scholars
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to World War I internment in Canada.|
- Bill C-331, An Act to acknowledge that persons of Ukrainian origin were interned in Canada during the First World War and to provide for recognition of this event.
- "Freedom Had A Price" on Yurij Luhovy's website
- PM Reaches out to Ukrainians - The Globe and Mail, August 25, 2005
- Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
- Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund
- Escape Attempt at Castle Mountain