October 28 is National Internment Education Day.
During Canada’s first national internment operations from 1914-1920, Ukrainians and other Europeans were branded ‘enemy aliens’ and imprisoned needlessly in 24 internment camps throughout Canada. Tens of thousands of others were obliged to carry identity documents and report regularly to the police. Many were subjected to other state-sanctioned indignities, including disenfranchisement, restrictions of their freedom of speech, movement, association, deportation, and the confiscation of what little wealth they had.
These men, women and children suffered not because of anything they had done but only because of who they were and from where they had come.
We honour the memory of the internees by sharing the story of the internment operations and understanding our responsibility to educate all Canadians about this injustice in the history of our country. May our knowledge serve as a reminder of the need to always remain vigilant in defense of civil liberties and human rights.
For more on Canada’s first national internment operations and the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund that supports educational and commemorative initiatives nationwide visit internmentcanada.ca.