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 100anniversary 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.”