Category Archives: Educational

Tribute to Spirit Lake Internment Captured in Musical Compositions

Internee Ivan Hryhoryshchuk killed June 7, 2015, while trying to escape from Spirit Lake, in whose memory the song was written by Daniel Rose. The photo is taken from the award-winning documentary Freedom Had A Price







Two original musical arrangements have captured the story of Spirit Lake internment, the second largest of the twenty-four internment sites in Canada, thereby furthering public awareness of the early-twentieth century Internment Operations in Canada through a unique medium.

The first musical piece is a composition titled “Spirit Lake” performed by members of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Symphony Orchestra in Quebec, conducted by Jacques Marchand. The piece is played with historical archive photos of Spirit Lake internment site projected in the background. The 40 musicians in the orchestra come from the surrounding areas of La Sarre, Amos, Val d’Or, Rouyn-Noranda.

This composition will be performed for a second time this coming June by the Haricanna Harmony Orchestra of Polyvalente de la Forêt secondary school in Amos. This talented student orchestra also numbers forty musicians from the fourth and fifth secondary high-school levels. The orchestra frequently performs in Quebec provincial high school competitions in Montreal and Sherbrooke.

The second recent composition is an original song written, titled “L’évadé de Spirit Lake” (The Escapee of Spirit Lake), which will be released on June 7. The song, composed by Daniel Rose, pays tribute to young Ukrainian internee Ivan Hryhoryshchuk who tried to escape his unjust internment in Spirit Lake, but was tragically killed on June 7, 1915, as he was attempting to run south, down the railway tracks, hoping to reach freedom.

The Quebec song, written in French, was recorded in the Val d’Or studio. Daniel Rose is a known musician in the area, writing songs for various Quebec artists. His mother was one of the original founders of Corporation Camp Spirit Lake in early 1998, a non-profit entity. From her initiative, award-winning Camp Spirit Lake Interpretative Centre/museum, chaired by James Slobodian of today was established in year 2011.

Her son Daniel, having been exposed to and was intrigued by the internment story at an early age, felt compelled to write a song years later when he became a music composer. Daniel also sang the song “The Escapee of Spirit Lake” which will be release on CD in a few months. This is one of many ongoing projects underway by Spirit Lake Centre to mark the 100th anniversary of Sprit Lake internment site, which opened in 1915 and was closed in 1917, with internees from Spirit Lake being transferred to other existing internment sites in Canada.

Spirit Lake Interpretative Centre, the first internment museum opened for the public in Canada, conveys the story of Canada’s First National Interment Operations, is open throughout the year, with a well developed educational out-reach program with schools in the area and throughout Quebec.

They received a major grant, over a period of five years, from the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund under the Shevchenko Foundation. Over 25,000 have visited this unique Centre, now in its sixth year of successful operation, from various parts of Canada and Europe.

Spirit Lake Centre is organizing a series of events throughout the year to mark the 100th anniversary of Spirit Lake and the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian settlement to Canada. Support for their projects is always welcome.

To arrange for group tours please call 1-819-727 2267or for further information refer to or to view documentaries on Spirit Lake see:

Jews, Ukrainians and the Euromaidan

– a compilation of news reports, commentaries, and reflections by Jewish Ukrainians, Jews in the Diaspora, and a selection of other writers highlighting the positive role played by Ukrainian Jews during the Ukrainian Revolution. Compiled by Professor Lubomyr Luciuk, with a foreword by Dr Serhiy Kvit (Ukraine’s Minister of Education and Science) and an afterword by Professor Paul R Magocsi (Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto).


Downloadable Book Order Form

Shevchenko Bicentennial

Оголошення від Cambridge Ukrainian Studies

Двохсотріччя від дня народження Тараса Шевченка надає нам привернути зацікавлення до цієї постаті міжнародних ЗМІ. Намагаючись представити двохсотліття як цілісну подію, щоб зосередити увагу громадськості, у жовтні 2013 року, Українськими студіями в Кембриджському університеті буде запущено веб-сайт Основною функцією сайту буде надання відвідувачам швидкого доступу до оголошень заходів, пов’язаних з відзначенням двохсотріччя від дня народження Шевченка у всьому світі, з датами, місцями проведення подій та іншою інформацією, бажано англійською мовою. Для цього використовуватиметься інтерактивний календар.

Ми б хотіли, щоб Ваші заходи з нагоди святкування двохсотріччя також  з’явилися у цьому календарі. Тому просимо надсилати новини та оголошення ваших заходів (бажано англійською мовою), до Вікторії Лeвер (Mrs Victoria Lever, адміністраторка відділу славістики Кембриджського університету) на електронну адресу не пізніше 16 вересня 2013. Щиро дякуємо за співпрацю.

Announcement from Cambridge Ukrainian Studies

The Shevchenko Bicentennial is a special opportunity for us to cultivate the profile of one of the world’s great poets and capture the interest and imagination of the international media. In an effort to present the bicentennial as a cohesive event and focus the public’s attention, Cambridge Ukrainian Studies will be launching the website in October 2013. The site’s main function is to offer visitors quick, ‘one-stop’ access to listings of Shevchenko 2014-related events around the world, with dates, locations, and other information, preferably in English. An interactive calendar will be used for this purpose.

We would like to feature your Shevchenko 2014 events on this special calendar. Please send news and announcements of your activities (preferably in English) to Mrs Victoria Lever (Administrator of the Department of Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge) at by 16 September 2013. Many thanks for your partnership and collaboration.

‘Why did it take nearly 100 years for this story to be told?’

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Crag & Canyon

Mary was born in Montreal. She was a child-survivor of the Spirit Lake internment camp. Instead of dwelling on her family’s suffering she wondered whether Japanese, Italian, and German Canadians would have been mistreated during the Second World War, or some Quebecois in 1970, if people had only remembered Canada’s first national internment operations. They didn’t. So wrongs done once were done again, then again.

Despite indifference, ignorance, even hostility, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association installed commemorative plaques and statues at most of Canada’s 24 internment sites, while calling on Ottawa for acknowledgement and redress.

We never asked for an apology or compensation. Mary believed today’s Canadians shouldn’t pay for past wrongs. To put it another way: what your grandfathers did to ours is not something you should apologize for, nor we should gain from. UCCLA’s campaign evolved as Mary wanted — it was about memory, not money.

‘Enemy aliens’ were held in Banff from mid-July 1915 to mid-July 1917, at Castle Mountain and Cave & Basin, where a permanent exhibit opens tomorrow. The unpleasant story of forced labourers exploited in western Canada’s national parks will be hidden no more. Photographs of civilians behind barbed wire should mute the mutterings of those who still deny these men were kept under duress.

Why did it take nearly 100 years for this story to be told? The destruction of most records from the Office of Internment Operations didn’t help. And mainstream historians were generally content noting “Germans, Austrians, and Turks” were rounded up during the Great War, never wondering who they really were, whether imprisonment was justified. Parks Canada’s website still doesn’t admit most were Ukrainian. Until recently, nothing was taught about this in any school. Don’t be surprised if this is the first time you’re hearing about the internment operations of 1914-1920.

But why did Banff’s residents forget? Were they ashamed for never protesting as innocent men were herded into Canadian concentration camps, compelled to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers? Or was it because the internees were not their social or racial equals? A hint of such prejudice extruded into the Crag and Canyon, 18 November 1916: “…the majority of our citizens are of the opinion that the scenic outlook is not vastly improved by the presence of the slouching, bovine-faced foreigners.”

Apprehension cowed entire communities. Sir Hugh Macdonald, son of Canada’s first prime minister, advised the Justice minister, in July 1919: “Fear is the only agency that can be successfully employed to keep them within the law and I have no doubt that if the Dominion government persists in the course that it is now adopting the foreign element here will soon be as gentle and as easily controlled as a lot of sheep.” It worked. Nick Lypka, a Castle Mountain prisoner, admitted as much, but only decades later. He remained afraid “…because they could arrest me again.”

Remarkably, it was a former Manitoba MP, Inky Mark, a Chinese Canadian from a family of Head Tax payers, whose Bill C 331 – Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Act, led to the formation of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, in 2008.

Additional monies were granted for a Cave & Basin internment museum, obliging Parks bureaucrats to recall a story they worked harder to erase than to remember.

That tale should be told at Cave and Basin. It won’t be. Parks Canada is about tourism, not truth.

Lubomyr Luciuk is a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada.

Marsha Skrypuch presentation at Banff Public Library, June 19th 6pm

prisoner_small silvervsm

Marsha Skrypuch, author of two books on the internment and internee descendant will be giving a reading and presentation on internment at the Banff Public Library on June 19th at 7:30pm.

This event coincides with the official opening of the Parks Canada Internment Pavilion

on 20 June 2013 at 2:00pm at the

Cave & Basin National Historic Site, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta.

For further information contact 1-866-288-7931 or visit

The Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund is now on Facebook.