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UCCLA kicks off "Five plaques to go" drive

For immediate release – Quebec City (Oct. 1, 2006):

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association kicked off its "Five Plaques to Go" campaign Monday, urging Canadians to pitch in and help the association complete its most recent project.

The UCCLA wrapped up another successful annual conclave Oct. 1 in Quebec City, where the association placed the 18th and 19th of 24 memorials, commemorating internees who spent time at Valcartier and Beauport.

On hand to help mark the solemn occasions was 15-year-old Quebecker Kim Pawliw, who read aloud a poem she dedicated to her grandmother Stéphania Mielniczuk. Mielniczuk, who died recently, was interned as a little girl at Spirit Lake, Que., near Val D'Or.

With these plaques solidly in concrete, five Canadian internment sites remain to be commemorated by the UCCLA: Montreal; Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.; Edgewood, B.C.; Lethbridge, Alta.; and Halifax. The UCCLA urges Canadians to support the UCCLA's "Five More to Go" campaign.

"Our goal is to have the 24 camps commemorated by 2010," said the UCCLA's chairman John Gregorovich. "This would be a remarkable legacy to the memory of the 8,579 men, women and children who were unjustly interned during this dark chapter in Canada's past.

"We are a project-driven group," he added. "Every dollar raised will go towards the purchase and installation of permanent bronze plaques for the five remaining internment camp locations."

The UCCLA has placed plaques at 19 of Canada's 24 First World War internment camp locations, from Valcartier to Nanaimo B.C. Evidence exists that the UCCLA's bronze trilingual plaques and statues are achieving their intended purpose of educating Canadians.

Photographer Sandra Semchuk, who attended the two unveilings, said she learned of the internment operations by reading the UCCLA's bronze marker in Banff National Park at the foot of Castle Mountain off Hwy 1A.

Since then, she has located and photographed every internment site and plaque. The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, the education arm of the UCCLA, gave Semchuk a grant to help finish her photography and publish a book on the topic.

During its conclave, the UCCLA also pledged to continue its search for Soviet war criminals who evaded detection and currently reside in Canada. Time is running out to bring such criminals to justice, and the association vowed to redouble its efforts in locating them and bringing them to the attention of the RCMP.

Besides members of UCCLA from across Canada, more than 50 citizens attended the unveilings in Valcartier and Beauport, including Quebec City's Michael Reshitnyk who acted as the master of ceremonies, Anne Sadelain of the Descendents of Ukrainian Canadian Internee Victims' Association, Ukrainian Canadian residents of Montreal and the Quebec City area, youth groups Plast and CYM, representatives of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (Quebec chapter), President of the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko Andrew Hladyshevsky and others.

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