Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some Canadians don't care about their own history

The author of this letter to a daily "national" newspaper doesn't get the point of the redress money the Ukrainian community is (still) seeking, despite the government's passing of Bill C-331.

He lumps Ukrainian Canadians in with other ethnic groups demanding compensation ... which is just money for themselves, at the expense of today's taxpayer.

What UCCLA, on behalf of Ukrainian Canadians, has repeatedly asked for is not compensation, but simply the money that the government confiscated from Ukrainian and other East Europeans during the WWI internment operations, and never did return.

Furthermore, that money is not destined to line the pockets of ethnically-defined individual Canadians, or even the descendents of internees, but rather for an educational campaign that will allow *all* Canadians, "hyphenated" or not, to learn about this particular episode of their own history ... something mainstream Canadian historians have oddly seemed loathe to do.

Who knows, such a campaign might just enlighten those who arrived here within the last half-century as to why Canada is now such a great place to live.

Canada is not some fairyland utopia. It is a country that people worked hard, and often suffered and sacrificed, to create ... so that those following in their footsteps would not have to work as hard, or suffer and sacrifice as much as they did.

Sarcasm from those who don't appreciate the sacrifices of their predecessors does little to enlighten or enrich the fabric of Canadian society.

2 comments:

Vasyl said...

The issue of redress is not a simple one, nor is it a get-rich scheme, as some people have labeled it when I have spoken to them on the issue. As a Canadian who spends a great deal of time beyond my nation's borders, I have grown to appreciate how Canadians are admired abroad. We are often referred to as a tolerant people; however, what is it that makes us so. Simplistically put I would say it is our history, those who understand our nation's history are probably just a little more tolerant than others.

I grew up during the October Crisis in Quebec. I remember military on our streets and I remember having an automatic weapon pointed at me by a young sergeant, for the simply firing off caps with a hammer against the asphalt. How was I to understand the whole situation on the eve or my 8th birthday! It was pretty frightening - and so you may ask what the October Crisis has to do with redress, it has everything to do with it. It was the same War Measures Act which put the military on the streets of Montreal and gave far reaching powers to the police in 1970 that was used to intern Ukrainians as enemies of the state.

When we start to understand the intricacies of our society, and a people who can usually sit down and settle things peacefully, we understand why so many people have come to consider Canada their home, regardless of where they were born.

The role that the first Ukrainian settlers to Canada can not be overlooked when understanding the development of Canada. They paid their dues, particularly those who were interned and had everything confiscated from them. The monies owed to those who were interned, are those of who helped build this nation, a proud nation with an interesting history which should be remembered.

I don't want a penny of the redress money, but I do want future Canadians, be they born here or naturalized citizens, to understand what our nation is about. Only then will they truly understand what it is to be Canadian!

Pawlina said...

Wow, what an experience, Vasyl! It's when stories like this are hidden or buried that we as a nation come to take for granted what we have.

Thanks for sharing.

Paulette