Internment Resolution

Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

WHEREAS during Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920 thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans were branded as “enemy aliens”, forced to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers, disenfranchised and subjected to other state-sanctioned indignities, not because of any wrong they had done but only because of who they were, where they had come from, and

WHEREAS thousands of men and some women and children were held in 24 camps spread across the Dominion, one of the largest being at Spirit Lake (La Ferme) Québec, and

WHEREAS at least 16 people (men and some children) who died at the Spirit Lake camp were buried in a cemetery established by the Government of Canada, and

WHEREAS after the war the land, including the cemetery, was sold to the province of Québec and later to a private farmer, and

WHEREAS the cemetery has deteriorated and is now all but lost to the surrounding boreal forest, and

WHEREAS all efforts to acquire, restore and consecrate this hallowed ground have been rebuffed, and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada originally set aside this land for an internment camp and an attached cemetery and subsequently sold this property to the Province of Québec without providing for the perpetual care of the internee cemetery,

AND WHEREAS the Province of Québec in turn resold this land to a private individual, who refused all restorative initiatives,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Ukrainian Canadian Congress work with the Government of Canada and the Government of the Province of Québec in order to:

1) designate the Spirit Lake cemetery as both a Canadian national historic site and Québec provincial historic site, and

2) expropriate the territory of the cemetery and a suitable ribbon of land allowing for unrestricted access to this hallowed site, and

3) work with the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund to ensure that an archaeological survey of the site is undertaken before the cemetery is itself restored, and consecrated, including installation of appropriate bilingual historical markers and any other symbols deemed appropriate, and

4) subsequently entrust the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to undertake regular inspections of the site to ensure it is kept up and remains a respectful place for visits by internee descendants and any other Canadians wishing to pay their respects at this unique Canadian graveyard.

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Ukrainian Canadian Congress request the Government of Canada to designate all Internee cemeteries of the Great War as sites of national historic importance.