We, the undersigned, are profoundly dismayed by the lack of a meaningful portrayal of Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914 to 1920 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR).
We will be asking our affected communities to refrain from partaking in the opening ceremonies or any subsequent activities at the CMHR until this matter is resolved fairly.
While we welcome the development of a national museum outside the capital region, it is regrettable that the CMHR’s exhibits were developed without sufficient attention being given to key Canadian stories. An enlarged photograph and one short film clip buried in a documentary film does not, in our view, constitute an acceptable treatment of Canada's first national internment operations.
If your goal is to have a truly inclusive national museum then you must reflect the nation's multicultural history. The insignificant attention given to First World War era internment operations represents a slight to all of the internees, enemy aliens and their descendants, including Canadians of Ukrainian, Hungarian, Croatian, German, Austrian, Polish, Slovak, Czech, Serbian, Slovene, Bulgarian, and other origins.
Quite recently, the Honourable Jason Kenney, commenting on the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act and the start of Canada’s first national internment operations observed: “the Government of Canada is committed to recognizing and educating Canadians about the experiences of those pioneers who overcame such heavy burdens. Their experiences mark an unfortunate period in our nation’s history. We must ensure that they are never forgotten.”
We fail to understand why the CMHR has largely ignored a profoundly Canadian story in a national museum dedicated to human rights.
We, the undersigned, represent many of the affected communities and internee descendants, as represented by organizations like the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko; Ukrainian Canadian Congress; Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association; Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce; German-Canadian Congress; Canadian Polish Congress; and Internee Descendants among others.
We are making our views publicly known, and in advance of the CMHR’s opening, so there is no confusion: the CMHR does not enjoy the endorsement or support of our communities. Furthermore, we do not believe that the limited consultations held with stakeholder communities about the contents of this museum were given serious attention.
Andrew Hladyshevsky, President of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko
Olya Grod, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
Roman Zakaluzny, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Borys Sydoruk, Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation
John Marion, President, Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce
Ludwik Klimkowski, Canadian Polish Congress
Sima Aprahamian, Armenian Community
Suleyman Guven, Kurdish/ Alevi Community
Antony Bergmeier, German-Canadian Congress, National President
Diane Dragasevich, Serbian National Shield Society of Canada
Marsha Skrypuch, Internee Descendant
Christopher Adam, Editor-in-chief, Kanadai Magyar Hirlap (Canadian Hungarian Journal)
Recalling Canada’s First National Internment Operations, 1914 to 1920 Eesti Elu