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Monday, December 18, 2006

Canada still burying its own history

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk has written another brilliant editorial, published in today's National Post (here). It illustrates what can IMO be justifiably construed as the manifestation of an ongoing irrational prejudice against all things Ukrainian (and, probably, east European in general).

They call it La Ferme -- The Farm, an innocuous name ... for an experimental farm.

Before the Great War many wondered if the Clay Belt's soils could produce crops sufficient to feed enough people to colonize the Canadian Shield, so that they could, in turn, exploit the region's mineral and timber resources. [But] somebody had to do the back-breaking work of clearing away the boreal forest and tilling the land. Who would want such a job? ... then the war broke out and the needed workers became available in the form of people deemed "enemy aliens." The first contingent of 109 men arrived Jan. 13, 1915. ...

... They were all prisoners under guard, dispatched into an archipelago of 24 Canadian concentration camps spread across the Dominion, from Banff to Beauport and beyond. They were also all civilians, not really Prisoners of War, just simple people branded "enemy aliens." Stripped of what little wealth they had, they were forced to work, for others' profits. ... When the internment operations ended on June 20, 1920, unpaid earnings of $9,510.17 were owed them, the equivalent of thousands of man-months of labour. Deposited with the Bank of Canada that booty still enriches their gaolers.

... 19 of their original number stayed behind, in the La Ferme cemetery, the only Ukrainian Canadians still there. ... Now this once sacred space is ... hidden by the encroaching bush, buried even deeper by bureaucratic ignorance and political indifference. ...

Ottawa should acquire, restore and preserve the internees' cemetery. And if we honour the last Canadian veteran of the Great War with a state funeral, we should also so dignify the last internee when her time comes, recalling the innocence betrayed on the day this country carted children off into the woods --not because of anything they had done, but only because of who they were and where they had come from."

Do send a letter to the National Post at this address, commenting on this article and deploring such apathy towards our country's history.

Also, you might consider writing to your MP (find his/her address here) and insisting that the government honour its financial commitment to the Ukrainian community on redress.

Those funds, unlike those for other redress settlements, are earmarked to educate Canadians about their own history. (Funny how the Canadian establishment keeps dragging its heels on that... )

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