TV show reveals Ukrainian internment

‘Ancestors in the Attic’ aired tonight on Global an episode about a man trying to look up his Ukrainian roots at the WWI internment camp in Spirit Lake, Quebec:

Growing up as a Ukranian-Canadian, Jerry Bayrak always faced prejudice. But he also heard whispers that his family dealt with even worse when they first arrived in Canada. No one would ever tell him anything about those early days. All Jerry’s Mom would reveal was that she grew up in a small town called Spirit Lake, near Montreal. But it wasn’t until Jerry began digging that he discovered that Spirit Lake was actually a World War I internment camp. Now, with the help of Ancestors in the Attic, Jerry begins a dramatic search to discover the truth about Spirit Lake and about one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.

The issue of Ukrainian internment is one that still remains a secret in Canadian history.   From Wikipedia:

The Ukrainian Canadian internment was part of the confinement of “enemy aliens” in Canada during and for 2 years after the end of World War I, lasting from 1914 to 1920. About 5,000 Ukrainian men of Austro-Hungarian citizenship were kept in twenty-four internment camps and related work sites, also known, at the time, as concentration camps. Another 80,000 were registered as “enemy aliens” and obliged to regularly report to the police. Those interned had whatever little wealth they owned confiscated.

There also exists other witness accounts, even CBC radio covered Spirit Lake.  In addition there were other camps, including Fort Henry and Kapuskasing in Ontario.

Last year, the government announced it will provide a grant of $10 million to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko to establish an endowment fund to support initiatives related to the First World War internment experience that predominantly affected the Ukrainian and other East European ethnic communities in Canada.

2 thoughts on “TV show reveals Ukrainian internment”

  1. That these people haven’t been fairly compensated is one of the shocking things about Canada’s otherwise (by Ukrainian standards) exemplary government.

  2. Disgusting, that is all one can say about this whole internment matter.
    Is’nt it something how this Canadian government can compensate all other minorities and even moreso the most recent arrivals with zeal( 10 $ million to Maher because he was sent back to his country) but throw crumbs to the Ukranians. The way I figure, taking into account the numbers of outright murders commited and continued abuse and years of suffering by Ukranian Canadians, the true cost of comphensation should have been closer to a trillion dollars. May be it is time to unite and persue real justice from the Canadian Government.

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