Several plaques unveiled in the Okanagan today are among 100 across Canada. The plaques are part of the Ukrainian Canadian Restitution Act, brought about by a private member's bill in the House of Commons. Kelowna, Vernon and Enderby are among the locations marked for commemoration.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the implementation of the War Measures Act. During World War One, 24 internment camps were set up and operated across the country which imprisoned over 8,500 men, women and children for being enemy aliens.
Prisoners at the internment camps were used as forced labour for the construction of government infrastructure such as the Trans-Canada Highway and Banff National Park. A further 88,000 enemy aliens were required to report regularly to police authorities during this period.
Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan attended the unveiling of the plaque in Kelowna, at the Dormition of the Mother of God, Ukrainian Catholic Church.
"The plaques unveiled today recognize a troubled period of Canadian history,” explained Cannan. “It is important to understand the impact that this action had on Canada. Innocent new Canadians from Ukraine, as well as those of German, Hungarian, Croatian, Serbian, Armenian descent, as well as other Eastern Europeans, were needlessly imprisoned."