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Ukrainian Canadian community to commemorate WWI internment of Ukrainians

October 22, 2015 — 

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress – Manitoba Provincial Council (UCC-MPC) will be commemorating the Internment during WWI (between 1914 and 1920) of over 8500 Ukrainians and other central and eastern Europeans by hosting a one day symposium and the unveiling of a statue on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. The symposium will include presentations by two members of the Department of German and Slavic Studies at the University of Manitoba. The two events will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2015.

The internment of 8,579 people, who were branded as “enemy aliens”, were forced into 24 internment camps located across Canada – from Nanaimo to Halifax (one was located in Brandon, Manitoba). In addition there were 5 receiving stations (one was in Winnipeg). Men, women and children suffered during this internment operation, not because of anything that they had done, but only because of who they were and where they had come from. In addition some 88,000 individuals had to register with the RCMP, carry identity cards and report regularly to the police.

The commemoration in Winnipeg on the 100th anniversary of the initiation of the Canadian government’s internment operations will begin with a one day Symposium (Oct. 24 – 10am to 2pm in Committee Room 254 of the Manitoba Legislature). Five academics will present papers on various topics of the Internment Operations and they include Dr. Bohdan Kordan (University of Saskatchewan), Peter Melnycky (Dept. of Alberta Culture), Iryna Konstantiuk (instructor of Ukrainian/Russian languages in the department of German and Slavic studies, University of Manitoba), James Kominowski (Slavic Librarian and Archivist, department of German and Slavic studies, University of Manitoba) and Andrea Malysh (Program Manager of the First World War Internment Recognition Fund). During the Symposium there will be ample room for questions and answers as well as discussion.

The second part of the commemoration is the unveiling of a statue on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature Building (immediately north of the Taras Shevchenko monument – on the north- west side of the Legislature) at 3 pm in the afternoon. The bronze statue was commissioned by UCC-MPC and was created by Ontario artist John Boxtel in 2015. The statue depicts a typical internee with fingers pointing to himself as if declaring “Why me!” Similar representations of this statue are located at another five internment sites across Canada. On the base-pedestal of the statue are the words “REMEMBER, LEARN AND NEVER FORGET” in English, French, Ukrainian and thirteen other central and east European languages (recognizing that all these ethno cultural communities were influenced by the Internment operations of 1914 to 1920.

The unveiling program begins at 3:00 PM with dignitaries, greetings, an unveiling ceremony as well as a church blessing.

All of the above events and activities are free to the public. Come and commemorate and remember the impact of the Internment Operations on Ukrainians and other central and east Europeans in Canada.

For further information contact Roman Yereniuk (204 -474 8907 or 204 250 7552) or Joanne Lewandoski (204 -294 2276).

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