NP-UN National Affairs Desk.
2020 marks 100 years since the end of Canada’s first national internment operations during the First World War. Canada labelled naturalized Canadians from Ukraine and other regions in Europe as “enemy aliens”. The government confiscated their land, property and cash assets. It imprisoned 8,600 people in internment camps for years and used them as forced labourers.
My grandparents, Baba and Gido, were shamefully considered enemy aliens. At the same time, Baba’s brother was proudly fighting for Canada in the 44th Battalion. Although they were allowed to keep working their farm, being enemy aliens meant a weekly 20-mile horse ride to report to the closest RCMP station during the Great War, and for another two years after the signing of the armistice.
The internment of Ukrainian and other peoples in Canada was a grave injustice. It is important to educate all Canadians on the entirety of Canada’s history, including our darkest moments. Today, on National Internment Education Day, we remember the innocent lives lost and all those who were impacted.
Vichna yim pamyat for all who perished.