Descendants of Ukrainian internees want same gov't support as Chinese

Ukrainians seek redress

Descendants of Ukrainian internees are seeking the same recognition as B.C.'s Chinese community after the provincial announcement of $10 million in support of the Chinese Canadian Museum in Vancouver's Chinatown.

Vernon's Andrea Malysh, a Ukrainian Canadian Congress director and internee descendant is among the signatories to a letter to Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Lana Popham.

The letter on behalf of the Descendants of Ukrainian Canadian Internee Victims Association (DUCIVA) applauds the government's financial support for the Chinese Canadian Museum a century after Canada's Chinese Exclusion Act, which was repealed in 1947.

The museum will open July 1.

Malysh has been an outspoken advocate for the Ukrainian community, staged rallies in support of Ukraine since the Russian invasion, and has kept the memory of Vernon's First World War internment camp alive.

More than 1,100 men, women and children of German, Ukrainian and Eastern European descent were imprisoned there during the war, on the current site of MacDonald Park.

"We applaud the government for this recognition of the contributions of British Columbians of Chinese descent who are an essential part of our province's success," the letter states.

"We would like to ask for a meeting with you to discuss the same recognition of the Ukrainian Canadians and other Europeans who were unjustly interned in eight concentration camps in British Columbia and used for forced labour to build up the British Columbia infrastructure during Canada's first national internment operations of 1914 to 1920."

DUCIVA met with Rachna Sing, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, in 2021.

Anne Sadelain, chair of the B.C. redress campaign spoke about her father's internment at Vernon and at the Mara Lake and Morrissey internment camps, but Malysh notes there has been no follow up.

"We again ask the British Columbia Government's acknowledgement that the unjust treatment of our ancestors is a tragic chapter in the history of our country and province. We seek redress on behalf of our families and on behalf of our communities. Internment and forced slave labour was a violation of their human rights. The economical losses were staggering. A hardship for all," the letter continues.

DUCIVA is asking for financial assistance "to educate British Columbians about the prejudicial and racist practices of a century ago to ensure that no one is ever again imprisoned and enslaved because of where they were born."

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