For Immediate Release - (Ottawa, 26 November, 2011)
The chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Roman Zakaluzny, attended the official unveiling of the Spirit Lake Internment Camp Interpretive Centre on 24 November, 2011, extending congratulations to the centre's organizers, designers and managers for creating what has already become an important commemorative and educational venue recalling Canada's first national internment operations.
“The hard work of James Slobodian and other members of the Spirit Lake Camp Corporation is evident in this museum, which poignantly recalls the experiences of the men, women and children once interned here, including several members of UCCLA's Redress Council such as the late Mary Manko Haskett, her daughter, Fran, and Stefa Pawliw. Years ago UCCLA placed a trilingual plaque at the Spirit Lake camp and unveiled a statute, 'Interned Madonna' here as well, helping set the stage for those who then went on to set up this very impressive centre."
Also attending the event was Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Honourable Jason Kenney, who called the internment operations a "blight’" on the country's history.
UCCLA was pleased to learn that the management of the Spirit Lake Camp Corporation is placing priority on now making the museum's exhibits bilingual, in response to concerns raised by the Minister and UCCLA's executive.
“Mr. James Slobodian assured me and other VIPs attending this event that nothing is more important to him than ensuring that this museum's contents are available in both official languages of Canada,” said Mr. Zakaluzny. “We’re happy to receive this reassurance that soon the museum’s exhibits will be accessible to all Canadians, regardless of whether they speak French or English." All of UCCLA's plaques are trilingual, Mr. Zakaluzny noted, regardless of where they are located in Canada.
For over two decades, UCCLA spearheaded the campaign for acknowledgement and symbolic redress for the internment operations, an effort that eventually led to the 2008 settlement that established the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, on whose Endowment Council UCCLA has a permanent presence. The CFWWIRF provided major grants in support of the Spirit Lake Internment Camp interpretive centre, making it possible.