"This represent a very important step in securing recognition and reconciliation for the wrongs done to Ukrainians and other Europeans during this country's first national internment operations of 1914-1920, when thousands of men, women and children were needlessly imprisoned as 'enemy aliens', had their wealth confiscated, they were forced to do heavy labour, disenfranchised and subjected to other State-sanctioned censures," stated Paul Gord, Vice-President and lead negotiator for the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.
The bill, sponsored by Mr. Inky Mark, says, in part, that the provisions under Part 2.2 "The measures may include the installation of commemorative plaques at certain places where persons of Ukrainian origin were first interred in Canada during the First World War, in Section 3 (a) the exhibition of information concerning internment camps and the contribution made by persons of Ukrainian origin to the development of Canada; and (b) the preparation of related educational materials."
From 1914 to 1920, the Canadian government classified the Ukrainian immigrants with Austro-Hungarian citizenship ad "aliens of enemy nationality" and kept them in government camps and work sites. Twenty-four interment camps were kept across Canada, one of the most notable being at the Banff National Park.
About 5,000 men were interned at government camps, and after the First World War, most Ukrainian men were paroled into private companies.
The first Ukrainian immigrants came to Canada in 1891, led by Iwan Pylypow and Wasyl Eleniak, and founded the Edan-Star Settlement in the West, but since World War II, most Ukrainians have settled in Toronto and Montreal.
"Subsequent educational, research and cultural initiatives will help teach future generations of Canadians about this episode in our national history and, hopefully, that will ensure that no other ethnic, racial or religious minority ever has to endure what our people did in a period of domestic and international crises," said Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, Director and lead negotiator for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The website of the Ukrainian Genealogical and Historical Society of Canada is at Today, there is an estimated million people of Ukrainian descent or origin living in Canada. They are the eighth-largest ethnic group in the country, and Canada has the world's third-largest Ukrainian population, behind the Ukraine and Russia.
Today, there is an estimated million people of Ukrainian descent or origin living in Canada. They are the eighth-largest ethnic group in the country, and Canada has the world's third-largest Ukrainian population, behind the Ukraine and Russia.