World War I Internment

March 1, 2001

Honourable Sheila Copps
Minister of Canadian Heritage
Parliament of Canada
Fax 994 1267

Dear Minister,

The purpose of this letter is to put forward on behalf of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation for your consideration some ideas for the resolution of the internment issue. The issue, as you well know, has to do with the forced confinement and confiscation of property of Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War.

It will not come as a surprise that many in our Federation would welcome a closure to this matter. This is amply demonstrated by the enclosed letter from a well established Canadian author of children's books Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. To address the injustice to Canadians of Ukrainian origin, the government of Canada might wish to consider a four-part approach:

1/ Compensation that will have universal benefit

  • launch a new, world class initiative by creating a policy and research centre dealing with Ukraine to explore policy options and ensure a better understanding of its unique role in global peace and security

    2/ Compensation that will serve all Canadians

  • create and/or enhance Chairs of multiculturalism at post secondary levels
  • include internment study in appropriate curricula; history, civil societies, justice and human rights
  • develop educational products for the public including documentaries, exhibits, literature, national/international commemorative prizes

    3/ Compensation that will serve Ukrainian Canadians

  • enhance the well being and growth of Ukrainian Canadians by
    -creating a fund for public programming to strengthen Canadians' understanding of Ukrainian Canadians as a major pioneering and economic force
    - strengthening the heritage language programs, and
    - funding research and dissemination of the contributions of the Ukrainians to Canada

    4/ Compensation that will serve the individual

  • wherever possible provide the option to the survivors or their relatives to receive some compensation

    The benefits of such an approach are many. They would facilitate a rapprochement with the Ukrainian community in Canada and underscore Canada's current global leadership in diversity and tolerance. Also, contribute to a better understanding of Ukraine with whom Canada has a special relationship.

    Such an approach will also serve to remind all of us, that opportunities to commit injustice are not restricted to the past but are ever present; that political expediency of the day must never be the guide in perpetrating injustices for tomorrow's redress.

    We would be very pleased to hear your reaction to our proposal, and would welcome an opportunity to lend our support to further efforts in this regard.

    With warm regards,

    Oksana Bashuk Hepburn

    cHon. John Manley, Minister, Foreign Affairs and International Trade
    Hon. Hedy Fry, Secretary of State for Multicultruralism
    Mr. Eugene Czolij, President, Ukrainian Canadian Congress
    Mr. Andrew Gregorowych, President, Ukrainain Canadain Civil Liberties Association
    Ms. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch


    Wednesday, February 21, 2001

    Oksana Bashuk Hepburn
    Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation

    Dear Ms Bashuk Hepburn,

    As you know, for more than a decade, the Ukrainian Canadian community has been frustrated by the inaction of our federal government on the issue of redress for the thousands of Ukrainian and Eastern European immigrants who were unjustly interned during World War I as "enemy aliens".

    This issue is of particular concern to me because my own grandfather, George Forchuk, was interned at Jasper. Not only did he lose several years of freedom, but he also lost his homestead, and had to start from scratch after the war. It is shameful that our government has turned a blind eye to this travesty of justice.

    As a member of the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Federation, I would be interested to know more about our position on this issue.


    Marsha Skrypuch