Category Archives: CTO Project

Canada’s World War I internment operations remembered with historical marker in Kyiv

By George W. Foty, Ukrainian Weekly

Patriarch Sviatoslav blesses a plaque in Kyiv, at the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, that recalls Canada’s national internment operations of 1914-1920.

KYIV – The first-ever bilingual historical marker recalling Canada’s national internment operations of 1914-1920 was unveiled at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ on October 28 and blessed by Patriarch Sviatoslav.

On a previous visit to Canada, Patriarch Sviatoslav agreed it would be appropriate to display a commemorative plaque in Ukraine, and specifically in a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church (UGCC), as most of those interned during Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920 were of that faith.

Thus, on October 28 – marked by the Ukrainian community in Canada as the official day of recognition of these internment events – the UGCC primate presided over a memorial service (panakhyda) and the consecration of such a plaque in the great cathedral. Also present were Bishop Joseph Milian of Kyiv, Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Washchuk, and clergy and faithful of the UGCC from Ukraine and Canada.

The patriarch addressed the audience saying: “The Patriarchal Cathedral is the core of our Church and of the Ukrainian people. To this cathedral flow both the joy and the pain of the Ukrainians in Ukraine and throughout the world. Today we blessed a plaque that commemorates the thousands of Ukrainians interned in Canada at the beginning of the first world war. They were suddenly viewed as enemies of the state.”

Patriarch Sviatoslav continued by noting that a few years ago, while visiting Alberta, he had the opportunity to visit one of the concentration camps in which, to this day, some of the camp’s barbed wire remains in its original position. He said it was enlightening to see how the internees in these extreme conditions professed their faith: “A picture in this memorial complex captured the punishment of an internee refusing to work on Christmas day (January 7)… Today we aspire that this suffering of our Ukrainian community in Canada be known around the world … The installation of these memorial plaques on the centenary of this unfortunate event has taken place in all our cathedrals of Canada, in Europe and Ukraine. It is important that we as Ukrainians preserve our historical memory … “

The patriarch expressed gratitude to Ambassador Washchuk, as well as to the government of Canada for its sensitivity and support not only for Ukrainians in Canada, but for Ukraine itself. Patriarch Sviatoslav said that all countries should follow Canada’s example in respecting the dignity of individuals and be responsive to the will of their citizens.

Ambassador Washchuk stated: “I am very grateful that the Patriarchal Cathedral agreed to commemorate this painful but important moment in Canadian and Ukrainian history. We cannot forget those who suffered, nor the errors committed a hundred years ago… These mistakes can be learned from, and adapted to the events in present-day Ukraine. We need to ensure the rights of all Ukrainian citizens, even in times of armed conflict… We should unite, and not allow ourselves to be divided. …These lessons help pave a path to a better future.”

Present from Canada, along with the ambassador, were Dr. Lada Roslytsky, Bohdan Kupych and this writer.

These memorial plaques are sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation with assistance from the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund.

From Canada, Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk added: “We attempted to have a second plaque installed by the Kyiv Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. As yet we are unable to confirm this arrangement… We still hope to have a plaque placed at St George Cathedral in Lviv and perhaps somewhere in Bukovyna, where internees of the Ukrainian Orthodox faith originated.”

After the consecration, all present prayed for the eternal rest of Ukrainians who died or suffered a hundred years ago behind Canadian barbed wire. The faithful departed, chanting “Vichnaya pamiat” (Memory eternal).

Translated from Ukrainian and edited from an original press release from the Kyiv Archeparchy of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.




Plaque unveiling in Kyiv

The first-ever bilingual historical marker recalling Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920 was unveiled at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ (vul. Mykilsko Slobidska 5) on Wednesday, 28 October 2015 at 11 am (local time) with his Beatitude, Sviatoslav, Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Photos courtesy Ambassador Washchuk and Twitter.

Victims of Internment Camps honoured

Darren Handschuh  Oct 25, 2015 / 4:17 pm | S

A dark part of Vernon’s history will be remembered half a world away this week.

On Wednesday, a bilingual (Ukrainian/English) plaque will be unveiled in Kyiv at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Resurrected Christ, recalling Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920.

During the Great War, thousands of Ukrainians and other Europeans were imprisoned as “enemy aliens,” not because of any wrong they had done but only because of who they were, where they had come from.

In 2008, after years of community effort spearheaded by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association the Government of Canada provided support for the creation of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund tasked with developing commemorative and educational projects recalling this little-known episode in Canadian history.

An interment camp was opened in Vernon in September, 1914 to house the so called enemy aliens. The camp, located in what is now MacDonald Park next to WL Seaton Secondary School, housed hundreds of people.

Eleven men died while at the camp.

The Vernon camp was one of 24 across the nation that confined thousands of people between 1914 and 1920.

Ukrainian Weekly, 31 August 2014

The CTO project
Something extraordinary happened in Canada on Monday, August 22. On that day, progressing from east to west, at exactly 11 a.m. local time, 100 plaques were unveiled in various public venues – from Amherst, Nova Scotia, to Nanaimo, British Columbia (both sites of first world war-era internment camps) – to mark the 100th anniversary of Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914-1920 and the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act.
Called Project “CTO,” this “wave of remembrance,” as the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation described it, recalled the heinous government operation that labeled more than 80,000 immigrants to Canada as “enemy aliens” and interned some 8,500 in 24 camps throughout the country. Why were they considered “enemy aliens”? Simply because of where they came from and, therefore, the twisted thinking went, could be suspected of allegiance with the enemy. There was no evidence, no due process afforded these immigrants. The majority were Ukrainians who hailed from the Austro-Hungarian crownlands of Halychyna and Bukovyna. Others were of German, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian and Armenian descent.
The project to commemorate the internment operations and its victims – the brainchild of Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk, professor of political geography at the Royal Military College of Canada – aims to educate the people of Canada about a little-known episode of their history. Indeed, as Dr. Luciuk, who heads the CTO project, told The Weekly in an interview published on August 17, he himself first learned of the internment operations in 1978, while doing research for his master’s degree. Many of the internees’ family members were not even aware of the grave injustice done to their kin. Not odd, given that the Canadian government at first denied that such operations had taken place.
Dr. Luciuk went on to write a book about those operations, and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, of which he is a leading member, pressed the campaign for recognition and redress for this historic wrong. It took many years of effort, but the campaign finally succeeded with the establishment in 2008 of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, which was endowed with $10 million from the federal government. But it was never about money or compensation to those once tarred as “enemy aliens” and their families – only about memory. Mary Manko Haskett, one of the victims, underscored that all she wanted was for Canadians to remember what had happened. “Remember. Learn. Never forget them…” – that’s the theme of the CTO project.
In Toronto alone, home to a huge Ukrainian community, there are 10 venues where the bilingual – English and French – plaques were unveiled on August 22. One of them, as correspondent Oksana Zakydalsky reports, was installed in the headquarters of the city’s branch of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization. Thanks to the CTO project, new generations of Canadians throughout the land will be informed and will perpetuate the memory of those who came before them.
Also on August 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper released a statement “in remembrance of those interned in Canada during the first world war,” which read, in part: “Governments have a solemn duty to defend against legitimate threats in wartime, but we look back with deep regret on an unjust policy that was implemented indiscriminately as a form of collective punishment and in violation of fundamental principles of natural justice, including the presumption of innocence. In Canada we acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and we learn from them. We are also steadfast in our commitment to remembering those who suffered. …let us also remember to celebrate the achievements of the internees and their descendants, who overcame this hardship and contributed so much to the building of our country as loyal and dedicated citizens.”