For immediate release (Gatineau / Ottawa, 15 June 2017)
Members of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association (UCCLA) reaffirmed their commitment to correcting an historical wrong in vowing to address the situation of the rundown and overgrown internee cemetery on private land in Spirit Lake, Que.
In addition, UCCLA’s executive leadership, meeting at its annual conclave this year in Gatineau/Ottawa June 10-12:
- received a sneak peek of the First World War internment display in the revamped Canada Hall at Canadian Museum of History, in Gatineau; - witnessed the global premiere of filmmaker Ryan Boyko’s documentary “That Never Happened: Canada’s First National Internment Operations;” - swore to ensure that no past or current members of the Soviet Union’s secret police force, the KGB, entered, re-entered or remained in Canada on any grounds, humanitarian or otherwise.
UCCLA paid respects with a moment of silence, again, to Nellie (Carolka) Manko, a Montreal-born infant who was interned with her family in the Spirit Lake internment camp during Canada First National Internment Operations (1914-1920), Nellie died 102 years ago, aged 2½, in the Abitibi internment camp.
This is the second year in a row conference delegates formally recalled Nellie, after first asking federal Heritage Minister the Hon. Melanie Jolie in 2015 to intervene for the purposes of commemorating and reconsecrating the internee cemetery at La Ferme (Spirit Lake), Que. Nellie’s exact gravesite remains unknown, but evidence suggests she could be one of the bodies buried in a gravesite the federal government downloaded to the Quebec government, which then sold the cemetery to a private landowner. To date, the minister has only passed the buck, telling UCCLA that is should take up the issue of a buried federal internee in a federal labour camp with the provincial government of Quebec.
Also at the conclave, UCCLA observed the election of Dr Lubomyr Luciuk as president of its sister charity, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation (UCCLF), replacing outgoing president Andriy Harasymiw. Halya Wilson and Borys Sydoruk, both of Calgary, were voted UCCLF’s vice-president and treasurer, respectively, and Vernon, B.C.’s Andrea Malysh was picked as secretary.
UCCLA, together with UCCLF and the Ukrainian Canadian Students Union (SUSK), also reaffirmed a commitment to continue to explore ways to partner with one another on various projects of mutual interest going forward.
Commenting, UCCLA's chairman Roman Zakaluzny said:
"Although another year has passed with little progress from the federal side, UCCLA remains hopeful that the Hon. Melanie Jolie will finally convince her colleagues in government to take responsibility and do what’s right to ensure that those 16 men and some children, including Nellie, buried in the bush on the site of Spirit Lake’s internment camp cemetery will finally find some peace.
“On behalf of UCCLA’s supporters across Canada, I would also like to take the time to thank Andriy Harasymiw who, for the last eight years from his Edmonton home, has led the creation of the foundation and seen it fulfill its mandate of educating Canadians on civil rights issues, including the Holodomor and First World War internment operations, by funding dozens of worthwhile projects. These included placing hundreds of historical markers across Canada, funding the publication of numerous books, films and documentaries on the topic, as well as the day-to-day management and paperwork that goes along with running a registered Canadian charity. We welcome Prof. Luciuk to the role, and we thank Andriy for his past leadership.”