Spirit Lake Internment Interpretative Centre received its second award from the Quebec organization “Neighbours” in recognition for its contribution toward community enrichment, and its active participation in furthering awareness of Quebec’s diverse heritage. “Neighbours” serves the English-speaking community in Quebec and is a partner with Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) and Canadian Heritage. The QCGN was founded in 1995, and “is a voice for community commitment and collaboration” linking 41 English language community organizations across Quebec, with its headquarters in Montreal.
The award, in the category of Community Service in Heritage and Culture, was presented at the gala at Hotel des Gouverneurs on March 29 in Rouyn-Noranda. The award was accepted by Mary Kureluk representing the nine-member volunteer Board of Camp Spirit Lake Corporation, which is chaired by James Slobodian. This Centre is the largest internment museum in Canada telling the story of Spirit Lake Internment camp which was the second largest internment site established during Canada’s First National Internment Operations. Over 1,200 were interned at Spirit Lake, the majority were Ukrainians, mainly taken from Montreal area.
Among the 150 in attendance at the gala, were officials from the City of Rouyn-Noranda. The event received extensive coverage in the French and English Quebec media.
In 2014 Spirit Lake Centre won the prestigious Les Grands Prix du Tourism Quebecois Award. In its fifth year, over 20,000 visitors have viewed the Centre’s unique internment exhibits and thousands of students with their teachers visited through the Centre’s education outreach program.
2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Spirit Lake internment camp (1915-1917). With its official opening in 2011, the Centre has contributed to the awareness of internment story and to the early Ukrainian immigrant history to Quebec. It has developed close links between the French and English speaking populations, working in a spirit of partnerships between the two groups.
Many events are planned to mark this historic 100th anniversary including a project titled “On the Road to Camp Spirit Lake”, the erection of tri-lingual (French, English, Ukrainian) permanent markers indicting the location of former buildings on the internment site, the location of railway tracks used to transport internees, officers quarters, location of internees barracks, the lake which internees had to cross in winter doing forced labor, location of the Spirit Lake cemetery and more.
Located 350 miles from Montreal, Spirit Lake Centre is open all year. The documentary films “Freedom Had A Price” and “Ukrainians in Quebec” include the story of Spirit Lake internment.