the first internment: ukrainian immigrants in canada, 1914-1920

Did you know that there was a national round-up and internment in Canada decades before that was done to Canadians of Japanese descent?

I learned this completely by accident while in Newfoundland. We were having breakfast at a little cafe and CBC radio was on, running stories for Canada Day. There was a long feature (excerpts from a new documentary) about the internment of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada.

I don't know the name of the documentary CBC was featuring, and I can't seem to find it. (Someone is sure to post it in comments.) Here's a National Film Board film that tells the story.
Freedom Had a Price tells the little-known story of those Ukrainian immigrants who, described by the Canadian government as "enemy aliens" at the outbreak of World War One, found themselves subject to discriminatory and repressive measures for the next six years.

Between 1914 and 1920, about 80,000 Ukrainian immigrants were forced to register as "enemy aliens," report regularly to the police, and carry government-issued identity papers at all times.

Over 5,000 of their compatriots suffered an even more severe fate, imprisoned in internment camps across the country. Treatment was often harsh, and conditions grim. Some died in the camps, many were sick or injured, and several were killed by guards while trying to escape. By means of archival footage, vintage photographs, the compelling testimony of survivors, and the commentary of such prominent Canadian historians as Desmond Morton and Donald Avery, award-winning filmmaker Yurij Luhovy weaves a moving human story of Canadian history that has all but disappeared from public consciousness.

And as I looked up this information, I learned that a similar round-up - less harsh, but no more just - was perpetrated against Italian-Canadians in 1940.

It's vitally important that we know this history and never forget it.

And lest we become complacent, certain that such injustices could never happen again, we should be well versed in what's happening right now.

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