From our archives:
"The death of Mary Manko: Righting a historical injustice," by Lubomyr Luciuk, 1 August 2007, The Kingston Whig-Standard We buried her under a maple. Seeing Mary’s grave sheltered by a tree whose leaf symbolizes our country was comforting. Nearby stands a spruce. That evergreen would have reminded her of the boreal forest she knew as a young girl. Even though she was born in Montreal, Mary was branded an “enemy alien” and transported north to the Spirit Lake concentration camp, along with the rest of the Manko family. Thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans like them were jailed, not because of anything they had done, but only because of where they had come from, who they were. What little wealth they had was taken, and they were forced to do hard labour for the profit of their jailers. The Mankos lost something even more precious, their youngest daughter, Nellie, who died there. Mary Manko Haskett passed away 14 July, the last known survivor of Canada’s first national internment operations. She was 98. For years she lent her support to the Ukrainian Canadian community’s campaign to secure a timely and honourable redress settlement. Disappointingly, she did not live to see that happen, despite the Honourable Stephen Harper’s own words. On 24 March 2005 he rose in the House of Commons to support fellow Conservative Inky Mark’s Bill C 331 – The Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act, saying: “Mary Haskett, is still alive…. I sincerely hope that she will live to see an official reconciliation of this past injustice.” The Prime Minister might now ask the bureaucracy why his wish was ignored. The government did, at least, send a representative to Mary’s funeral, Conservative MP Mike Wallace, (Burlington) who read a prepared statement, subsequently added to the website of the Secretary of State for Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney: “ We were saddened to hear of the death of Mrs. Mary Manko Haskett, the last known survivor of Canadian internment camps during the First World War and the postwar period. On behalf of Canada's New Government, I would like to extend my condolences to Mrs. Haskett's family, as well as the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Born and raised in Montreal, Mary was six years old when she and her family were detained in the Spirit Lake internment camp. Despite advice from British officials that ‘friendly aliens’ should not be interned, Ottawa invoked The War Measures Act to detain 8,579 ‘enemy aliens’ including Poles, Italians, Bulgarians, Croats, Turks, Serbs, Hungarians, Russians, Jews, and Romanians - but the majority (perhaps as many as 5,000) were of Ukrainian origin. Many were unwilling subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and thus not ‘enemy aliens’ at all. For years. Mrs Haskett and others argued that ‘Canada's first internment operations’ herded together individuals based on nationality - many of them Canadian-born - and compelled them into forced labour. Despite the original wartime justification for these measures, many were kept in custody for two years after the Armistice of 1918. We are all grateful for Mrs. Manko Haskett's dedication to the cause of remembering and commemorating this important event in Canada's history.” Official condolences for those recently deceased, for example Bluma Appel and Ed Mirvish, can be found on the Canadian Heritage website. The innocuous text cited above wasn’t included, however, being deemed “too political.” And so yet another indignity was heaped upon Mary, posthumously. Remembering her means recalling what was done to her and by whom. That’s a no-no. While this gaffe may be corrected, even if Mary wasn’t rich or a patron of the arts, it’s too late. We got the message. Years ago Mary provided a prescription for the redress campaign. She insisted we should never demand an apology, or compensation for survivors, or their descendants. Instead we should ask, politely, for recognition and the restitution of what was taken under duress. Those funds, to be held in a community-based endowment, would underwrite commemorative and educational projects that, hopefully, will ensure no other ethnic, religious or racial minority suffers as Ukrainian Canadians once did. While no survivors remain, and even their descendants are senior citizens, a new generation of Canadians of Ukrainian heritage took up Mary’s cause nearly two decades ago, even though none of us had any ties to the victims. That changed on the day of Mary’s funeral, when my mother and sister returned from western Ukraine. They knew about Mary but, being away, did not know she had died. They brought the news that my cousin, Lesia, had married Ivan Manko, himself distantly related to Mary’s parents, Katherine and Andrew, whose graves are found in Mississsauga’s St. Christopher’s Catholic cemetery, not far from Mary’s mound. This crusade was always about righting an historical injustice and, in that sense, is political. It just got personal too. ---------------- Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk is director of research for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (www.uccla.ca)
The UCCLF would like to congratulate Lesia and all the students who submitted an essay. Each participant in this writing competition will be awarded a copy of Into Auschwitz, For Ukraine by Stefan Petelycky for their efforts.
For the first time since its introduction, the Civil Liberties Opinion-Editorial Award is given to two students — Larissa Volinets Schieven of Toronto and Roman Storoshchuk of Calgary. This award is given to the high school or post-secondary student who had their opinion-editorial published in a major Canadian newspaper. Larissa is in her third year of pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism degree at Carleton University in Ottawa. Roman is also a third year student, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Philosophy, at the University of Calgary.
Larissa’s op-ed, entitled “Revoke writer’s undeserved Pulitzer”, appeared in the Nov. 25, 2010 edition of Saskatoon’s The StarPhoenix, while Roman’s op-ed, entitled “Ukrainian famine is a genocide largely unrecognized”, appeared in the Nov. 27, 2010 edition of the Calgary Herald.
The UCCLF would also like to congratulate both Larissa and Roman for their participation in this writing competition. Each winner will receive a $1,000 prize for their efforts.
For more information, please visit www.ucclf.ca
This email sent on behalf of the UCCLF by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (www.UCCLA.ca).
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