Canada’s contributions to the Allied efforts within the First World Battle are nicely documented — however much less so is the way it imprisoned a few of its personal residents throughout the battle.
Canada registered greater than 80,000 Ukrainian and different Japanese European immigrants as enemy aliens throughout the warfare. Greater than 8,500 of them have been despatched to internment and work camps, very like the nation did with Japanese-Canadians within the Second World Battle.
B.C.’s longest standing First World Battle internment camp was in Vernon, however there have been additionally camps in Edgewood, Monashee, Fernie and Nanaimo.
Now, a number of the descendants of those that have been interned are petitioning the provincial authorities to acknowledge this a part of Canadian historical past, which has been largely ignored.
“It is an vital piece of our Canadian historical past and other people must find out about it,” mentioned Andrea Malysh, a Vernon resident whose nice grandfather Wasyl Luchak was despatched to an internment camp in Quebec throughout the warfare.
“It must be addressed for the sake of all our households.”
Luchak immigrated to Canada in 1903 on an invite from the federal authorities to farm free land in Alberta.
He arrived with an Austro-Hungarian passport, as he got here from a area of Ukraine that was then beneath the rule of that empire.
“Little did he know that, in a while, his passport would grow to be his detriment,” mentioned Malysh, who additionally works for the Canadian First World Battle Recognition Fund.
Many internees have been despatched to working camps, like in Mara Lake, B.C., the place they have been compelled to do laborious labour. (Courtesy of the Enderby Museum)
On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared warfare on Serbia, triggering the First World Battle.
In Canada, Ukrainians and different Japanese European immigrants related to the Austro-Hungarian empire have been compelled to declare themselves as enemy aliens and lots of have been despatched to internment camps beneath the Battle Measures Act.
The camp in Vernon grew to greater than 500 folks, in accordance with historian Don McNair, when it was supposed to intern solely 80.
Most of the camps throughout Canada turned labour camps, with prisoners compelled to construct roads.
Malysh says a lot of this historical past is unknown, as official internment information have been intentionally destroyed by the federal authorities. Additionally, many survivors selected to not communicate of their experiences, she mentioned.
“This piece of our historical past is buried and was destroyed. It’s totally tragic … it by no means obtained put into our historical past books,” mentioned Malysh.
Prisoners being marched to camp in Edgewood, B.C. (Courtesy of the Nationwide Archives of US)
In 2005, the federal authorities handed the Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act, which acknowledged the injustice to these interned within the First World Battle. Now, efforts are being targeted on the province.
Earlier this week, Malysh despatched a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan, requesting a gathering to debate provincial acknowledgement. It is a matter Malysh says is pressing, particularly as lots of the descendants who know the tales are growing older and some have died.
A lot of them at present belong to the Descendants of Ukrainian-Canadian Internee Victims Affiliation.
“It is an vital piece of our Canadian historical past and other people must find out about it,” she mentioned, not simply as recognition of what occurred but in addition as a reminder of what may very well be.
“It might occur once more. And let’s be clear, this should not occur once more,” she mentioned.