Category Archives: Government Statements on WWI Internment

NDP Statement on Internment

NDP STATEMENT ON THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WAR MEASURES
Official Opposition Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) made the following statement on the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act internment of Canadians from Ukraine and Eastern Europe:
“In August of 1914 over 8,000 Canadians from Ukraine and Eastern Europe were rounded up and sent to camps across the country, in a breach of their civil liberties which had a devastating impact on the detainees, their families and friends.
In 2005 Bill C-331, the Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition Actpassed in the Canadian Parliament, recognizing this injustice and helping to further pave the way forward. 
Ukrainian-Canadians have come a long way since the internment camps and continue to make vital contributions to many aspects of Canadian life, including politics, the economy and culture.

On this solemn anniversary, we pay tribute to those who suffered during this time and pledge to do our part to prevent this injustice from being visited on others.”

Prime Minister’s Statement on Internment

Date: August 22, 2014
For immediate release

STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA IN REMEMBRANCE OF THOSE INTERNED IN CANADA DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement in remembrance of those interned in Canada during the First World War:

“A century ago, as a result of fear generated by the onset of the First World War, thousands of new immigrants of European origin were interned during the First World War even though there was no proof that they posed a threat to Canada.

“Many of the internees came to our shores seeking to escape oppression and to build a better future for their families, but instead found themselves imprisoned simply for having come from territory controlled by the then-German or Austro-Hungarian empires. This practice persisted even after the British government advised that most of these so-called ‘enemy aliens’ were in fact sympathetic to our war aims and encouraged Canada not to intern them.

“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. That is why in 2008 the Government of Canada worked closely with affected communities and committed $10 million to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko to establish the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund. We also included a section on the internment in our revised Citizenship Guide, Discover Canada.

“Today, the descendants of internees of Ukrainian, Croatian, German, Hungarian, Polish, and other ethnic origins, will be gathering in churches and community centres across the country to pray and to reflect on this sad moment in our history. I encourage all Canadians to take part in these events.

“I also thank the Shevchenko Foundation and the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which coordinated the ‘One Hundred Plaques across Canada’ initiative, for their important roles in remembering this moment in our history and in coordinating today’s commemorations.

“As we remember the past, 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.”

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Déclaration

Date : le 22 août 2014
Pour diffusion immédiate

DÉCLARATION DU PREMIER MINISTRE DU CANADA EN SOUVENIR DE CEUX QUI ONT ÉTÉ INTERNÉS AU CANADA DURANT LA PREMIÈRE GUERRE MONDIALE

Le Premier ministre Stephen Harper a fait aujourd’hui la déclaration suivante en souvenir de ceux qui ont été internés au Canada durant la Première Guerre mondiale :

« Il y a un siècle</x>, en raison des craintes suscitées par le déclenchement de la Première Guerre mondiale, des milliers de nouveaux immigrants d’origine européenne ont été internés durant la Première Guerre mondiale, même si rien ne prouvait qu’ils constituaient une menace pour le Canada.

« Un grand nombre des personnes internées, qui étaient arrivées chez nous pour échapper à l’oppression et pour bâtir un avenir meilleur à leur famille, se sont retrouvées en prison simplement parce qu’elles venaient d’un territoire contrôlé par l’Empire germanique ou l’Empire austro-hongrois de l’époque. Cette pratique a persisté, même après que le gouvernement britannique a déclaré que ces soi-disant « étrangers ennemis »  sympathisaient en fait avec nos objectifs de guerre et invité le Canada à ne pas les interner.

« Les gouvernements ont le devoir solennel de se défendre contre des menaces légitimes en temps de guerre, mais avec le recul, nous regrettons profondément que cette politique ait été mise en œuvre aveuglément, comme une forme de punition collective allant à l’encontre des principes fondamentaux de la justice naturelle et notamment de la présomption d’innocence.

« Au Canada, nous reconnaissons les erreurs du passé et nous en tirons des enseignements. Nous sommes aussi déterminés à nous souvenir de ceux qui ont souffert. C’est pourquoi, en 2008, le gouvernement a travaillé de près avec les communautés touchées et affecté 10 millions de dollars à la Fondation canado-ukrainienne de Taras Shevchenko pour établir le Fonds canadien de reconnaissance de l’internement durant la Première Guerre mondiale. Nous avons aussi inclus une section sur l’internement dans notre nouvelle version du guide de la citoyenneté, Découvrir le Canada.

« Aujourd’hui, les descendants des personnes internées d’origine ukrainienne, croate, allemande, hongroise, polonaise ou d’autres origines ethniques, se rassembleront dans des églises et des centres communautaires, partout au Canada, pour prier et réfléchir à ce triste épisode de notre histoire. J’encourage tous les Canadiens à prendre part à ces activités.

« Je tiens aussi à remercier la Fondation Shevchenko et l’Association ukraino-canadienne des libertés civiles, qui ont coordonné l’initiative « One Hundred Plaques across Canada » d’avoir joué un rôle important dans la commémoration de ce moment de notre histoire et d’avoir coordonné les activités commémoratives d’aujourd’hui.

« Au moment de nous rappeler le passé, n’oublions pas de célébrer ce qu’ont accompli les personnes internées et leurs descendants, qui ont surmonté tant de difficultés et qui ont tant contribué à notre pays, à titre de citoyens loyaux et dévoués. »

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Office of the Prime Minister – Communication

BC Premier’s Statement on Internment

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark issued the following statement on the centenary of Canada’s entry into the First World War:
“Aug. 4, 2014, marks 100 years since Canada joined the British Empire as a participant in the Great War.
“The grievous loss of life and immense suffering on all sides remains a dark chapter in world history. But this war also saw Canada come into its own as a country: proud, persistent, and courageous, even in the face of death.
“Some 620,000 Canadians served in Europe, my grandfather among them. Of those, 55,570 came from British Columbia – the greatest enlistment rate by share of population among the provinces. The names of our 6,225 dead can be found on monuments in every village, town, and city throughout this province.
“As we remember their sacrifices, we should also reflect on the better times in which we live. Immigration and trade have made our country stronger and brought our world closer together than ever before.
“That world is still troubled, and I thank those who continue to fight for our freedom.
“Let us never forget that it comes at a price.”

Ontario Premier’s Statement on the internment



Premier’s Statement on Canada’s First National Internment Operations during the First World War

August 22, 2014 9:30 A.M.
Premier Kathleen Wynne released the following statement today on the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the War Measures Act:
“My thoughts are with Canadians across our country as we observe the anniversary of a shameful episode in our history.
One hundred years ago today, Canada’s War Measures Act came into effect for the first time. This act was used to perpetrate a great injustice against thousands of newcomers to Canada, who were classified as enemy aliens and stripped of their property, liberty and dignity. The federal government opened internment camps, including six in Ontario. More than 8,000 people, most of them Ukrainians and other Europeans, were subjected to forced labour in harsh conditions for as long as six years. The emotional scars from this mistreatment are borne for generations.
Today, the people of Ontario share pride in our strong commitment to human rights. To continue upholding our values and to give expression to our ideals, we have a duty to remember and learn from past wrongs. Indeed, the limited awareness of Canada’s first internment operation and the atrocious ways internees were mistreated during and following the First World War is itself a great wrong. Our failure to acknowledge these wrongs meant that they could be repeated, and when war broke out again, shameful injustices were again perpetrated against new Canadians.
Let this day be a poignant reminder that we must remain vigilant in upholding each other’s human rights and in shining a light on acts of injustice wherever they occur. This is how we preserve the equality and dignity that each and every one of us believes in and deserves.”