On this day: human rights in Canada

Ukrainians in Castle Mountain concentration camp in 1915.

The 22nd of August, 1914 saw the passing of Canada’s War Measures Act. The act would result in government-sanctioned human rights abuses against Canadians of largely Ukrainian origin.

Ukrainians were declared “enemy aliens” and thousands were put into concentration camps to be used for slave labour across Canada. They were seen as enemies because the western regions of their homeland were under Austro-Hungarian rule at the outbreak of the First World War.

Some 80 000 Ukrainians who weren’t imprisoned were still required to register as enemy aliens and barred from leaving the country.

Plaque and statue at Castle Mountain near Banff.

The infamous Castle Mountain Internment Camp in Alberta saw prisoners used to work in the national parks, where they established the groundwork for the massive tourism to Banff and Lake Louise seen today.

Abuses at the camp were widespread, and were reported as far away as Britain.

Internment continued for two years after the war ended.

Kapuskasing_ON_3The Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp a concentration camp for mostly ethnic Ukrainians imprisoned to be used for slave labour during the First Wor

Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in Ontario.

The internment of ethnic groups was widespread across many countries in both the First and Second World Wars, including in Australia and the United States, though the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is generally the only instance most know of.

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One thought on “On this day: human rights in Canada

  1. Pingback: The Week: 20th – 26th August – Sonya's Stuff

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