Filmmaker stops in Vernon

Ryan Boyko is shining a light on one of Canada's darkest periods.

The actor and filmmaker is travelling the country working on a documentary on Canada's 26 First World War Internment camps, and on Thursday he stopped in Vernon.

MacDonald field, where WL Seaton school is now located, was an internment camp for men, women and children who were mostly of Ukrainian descent.

The idea to film a documentary on the camps formed 20 years ago when Boyko was in a Saskatoon high school student and watched a documentary called 'Freedom Has a Price'. He asked his history teacher about Ukrainian internment camps, but the teacher knew only of the Japanese internment camps of the Second World War.

Wanting to know more about the Ukrainian camps set Boyko on a years-long journey that has him producing a web series and making a documentary. He has plans for a full-length feature film – 'Enemy Aliens' and work will begin next year.

The web series has already launched at armisticefilms.ca and Boyko plans to add episodes on each of the camps he has been to. The feature on the Vernon camp will air in the spring.

Boyko, who's been to 21 former camp sites so far and interviewed numerous relatives of those held in the camps, has come across a common theme.

“I know it is cliche, but they all said the same thing, 'Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it,' and that is exactly what happened.”

Boyko said the camps were “covered up. No one talked about it after World War 1.

“Because no one talked about it, no one lobbied against it.”

Because the camps were quickly forgotten, it did happen again to the Japanese less than two decades later.

“And if we forget about it again, it could happen again,” he said.

Andrea Malysh, program manager of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, said a digital map of the camps is also being created.

“It will be on our website, internmentcanada.ca, in 2016, and you will be able to click on the map and view a particular story,” said Malysh. “There are some very horrific stories from the internment camps. Our beautiful parks have kind of a dark history.”

Malysh explained many internees were forced to work on creating Canada's national parks, such as Yoho and Banff.

“They actually helped build the Parks Canada project with free, forced labour,” she said, adding Mount Revelstoke Park was also build on the backs of internees.


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