Revelstoke to join with 100 other communities to mark WW1 internment camps

A century ago thousands of people of Ukrainian, German, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian and Armenian descent were rounded up and herded into Canada’s first internment camps.

Long ignored on a national level, this shameful period in Canadian history is being marked on Friday, August 22, by the unveiling of 100 plaques at 100 different locations across the country, including Revelstoke.

The first plaque will be unveiled in Amherst, N.S, at 11 am (local time). The wave of plaque unveilings will move West, from province to province, culminating at 11 am (Pacific Time) in Nanaimo. These plaques are being installed in parish halls, cultural centres, museums and archives, associated with the Ukrainian, German, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian and Armenian communities.

Mayor David Raven, as well as MP David Wilks, will be in attendance as the plaque is unveiled at the Revelstoke Museum at 11 am.

Everyone is urged to attend an unveiling ceremony to hallow the memory of all of the so-called “enemy aliens” interned at the outbreak of the Great War.

“Revelstoke Museum and Archives is honoured to be unveiling one of the 100 plaques distributed across Canada to mark the 100th Annivesary of the War Measures Act and the First World War Internment Operations that followed,” Curator Cathy English said in a statement. “Revelstoke was home to one of the 24 camps across Canada and it is important to mark this historic event and to recognize the wrong that was done to settlers of Eastern European descent, most of whom were civilians.”

The commemorative project is intended to affirm the importance of human rights, to remember those unjustly treated and to learn about and from the past.

With the outbreak of World War I,the War Measures Act (1914) was implemented as a result of an Order In Council by the Canadian government. This led to the internment of 8,579 people who had emigrated to Canada from territories under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also meant an additional 80,000 individuals were obliged to register as “enemy aliens” and then required to report to local authorities on a regular basis. This included Germans, Bulgarians, Croatians, Serbians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovakians and Romanians.

A $10 million endowment known as the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF) was established to commemorate and educate Canadians about Canada’s first national internment operations of 1914 to 1920. This fund, with the help of the Ukrainian-Canadian Civil Liberties Fund (UCCLF), helped to organize the 100 Plaques across Canada Project. The UCCLF has been the major non-governmental driving force behind this project.

Plaques sites in British Columbia are at: the Revelstoke Museum and Archives; St Mary’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Vernon; the City of Vernon; Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in New Westminster; Saint Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, Victoria; Holy Trinity Ukrainian Catholic Church, Kamloops; the City of Enderby; the City of Nanaimo; Saint Josaphat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, Vernon; Dormition of the Mother of God Ukrainian Catholic Church, Kelowna; the City of Fernie; and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Croatian Roman Catholic Church in Vancouver.