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Minister Dave Chomiak on the Manitoba Internment Statue


Statement in the House:

Internment Camps–Statue Unveiling and Symposium

Mr. Speaker, on October 24th, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress held the official unveiling of the Manitoba internment statue on the grounds of the Legislature and held a symposium on Canada’s internment operations. It was an honour to attend the unveiling of the statue and attend the four hours of seminar.

Mr. Speaker, during the First World War, thousands of people with ‘Austrio’-Hungarian citizenship, including Ukrainians, Poles, Romanians and many others, were sent to internment camps across Canada, including in Brandon, and thousands more were forced to register as, quote, enemy aliens, and report to police on a regular basis. Conditions were harsh and abusive, and the experience left a permanent trauma for those caught up in the internment laws. We heard at the symposium about how this was something never to be spoken of, and only in the recent past have documents and survivor testimony been uncovered. These serve to build a clearer picture of our collective history shaped by lessons of the past. As Manitobans, we don’t forget the past. We strive to build a better, more inclusive province and society.

The statue which was unveiled has text in 16 languages representing the various ethnocultural communities who were also affected by this dark chapter in Canadian history.

I would encourage all Manitobans to visit this statute co-located with the memorial of Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s poet laureate, and a memorial  to the Holodomor, the famine genocide of 1932‑1933.

To the members of the First World War internment committee of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Manitoba Provincial Council, particularly Roman Yereniuk and Joan Lewandowski: Thank you for your efforts to ensure we never forget this tragic chapter of our history.


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