Amazing that this racial memory I have, of being considered a serf, is actually historically based. For my people, escaping the prejudice that we were no better than pack animals, meant leaving the Russian empire. Stalin created a workers state, like any state, his needed to profit from the exploitation of the only large scale food production in the region. Even as most of the rest of the world was freed from the particular slavery of feudalism, the Ukrainians would remain in bondage if they stayed in the homeland.

There was a mass exodus starting in the last decades of the 19th century and continuing until Stalin’s policies forced the closing of the borders. Canada invited my family to immigrate. Brokers received bonuses for every able bodied man they could convince to come to Canada, where there was open land. Once World War I began, Ukrainians found themselves in the familiar circumstance of forced labor.

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During the First World War, a growing sentiment against “enemy aliens” had manifested itself amongst Canadians. These enemy-born citizens were treated as social pariahs, and many lost their employment. Under the 1914 War Measures Act, “aliens of enemy nationality” were compelled to register with authorities. About 70,000 Ukrainians from Austro-Hungary fell under this description. 8,579 males were interned by the Canadian Government, including 5,954 Austro-Hungarians, most of whom were probably ethnic Ukrainians. Most of the interned were poor or unemployed single men, although 81 women and 156 children (mainly Germans in Vernon and Ukrainians at Spirit Lake) had no choice but to accompany their menfolk to two of the camps, in Spirit Lake, near Amos, Quebec, and Vernon, British Columbia. Some of the internees were Canadian-born and others were naturalized British subjects, although most were recent immigrants. Citizens of the Russian Empire were not interned and so could enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.


2 thoughts on “Internment of Canadian Ukrainians in forced labor

  1. Horrible that this actually happend as Ukrainians gave all they had in life to get a ticket and many were robbed with false tickets on a boat to Canada ,,our country who opened their doors for the West Ukrainians immigrating under the Austro Hungarian Empire . The war with Russia and Germany left 4 million Ukrainians and Russian soldiers and several thousands of citizens dead .As Canada arrested these innocent west Ukrainians for possibley being spies ,,not even one was found guilty of such crimes as immigarnts with new Canadian citizenship. These people were destitute poor and opened up the prarie wheat fields and built railways and cities for Canada with the great migration in Canada with Poles and Icelandic and Irish and Scottish English and Chinese immigrants. This was their reward ? 12 died in these slave camps .Barbwired in for 4 years across Canada. Russia communism was pounding the doors into West Ukraine under Austria controlled Ukraine then Polish right after for a short period ,,My ancestors were a part of that immigration and no doubt some were in that forced slave internment prison camp in Manitoba .Lubomyr Lucuik has worked so many years getting an official apolagy from the Canada government for the victims who died and the families that suffered grief and prison terms in these horrible camps and raising the truth about a prison set up across Canada for west Ukrainians and Hungarians under the Germanic allied forces who fled from there due to hardships and that war.Not to continue it in Canada spying ,,what a massive discrace on Canadas government shining humanitarian face back then when we earned so much and fought for honour and truth as Canadians . Fair democracy and “Human Rights ?
    But this time it was a “Human Wrong”

    Glory to the lost Ukrainians back then in Canada prisons that Britiain and our own Canadian Primeminister are responible forback then .

    Glory to the heroes in Kievs Maidan Revolution which I was proud to participate in as a protester and brick thrower in that revolution that almost took my life being shot at by snipers helping as a Canadian Ukrainian and for my then 5 year old son Genya here and again glory to the heroes who died on the Donetsk and Luhansk Battlefield against Putins Russian army,,he is a dictator tyrant and he gave the orders from the top for the planned attacks in Donetsk Luhansk East Ukraine and his Crimea annexation from Ukraine illegally by the force of his Russian army aka the “green men” with high powered machine guns and tanks and helicopters and his Pro Russian separtist militants and their terrorism against Ukraine .This is how you mange a Referendum these days in Russia I guess on Ukraine exclusively! Read New Movie reveals how Russia planned to destroy Ukraine,,its on the Atlntic Council website and Huffington Post and many news papers now and in Ukraine already scooped it up.its my film I wrote the original script and produced in Ukraine with others .title Bitter Harvest 2015,,its on IMDB website ,trailer coming very soon,,release of film Spring 2016 or earlier we hope.
    Distribution negotians are in process as we speak.
    Hope you see that part of aukraines dreadful history by Stalin known as the Holodomor genocide ,,,of Ukraine by Lenin first then massively larger in scope by Stalin and his red army and Kremlin Central Committe Communist Regime an dhis OGPU secret police organ system and collective farm directors the earlier version of the KGB.

    Slava Ukraina ! Glory to Ukraine heroes and the lost Ukrainian and East European Hungarian victims and their suffering families even today whom still grieve with memories of that crime and dark chapter in Canadas government history , who witnessed the Internment and deaths of their loved ones .

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