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Unveiling of Emerson, MB, WWI Internment Operations Photographic Monument and Interpretive Panel

UCCLF Media Release, For immediate release (Emerson, MB and Calgary, AB, September 7, 2022)

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation (UCCLF) and the Municipality of Emerson-Franklin Tourism Committee invite you to attend the official opening of a new educational and commemorative exhibit marking Canada’s First World War internment operations of 1914 to 1920.

Located about 100 km south of Winnipeg, the site at Emerson commemorates the hundreds of men who walked from Winnipeg to find work in the United States, only to be arrested as “enemy aliens” by federal authorities at Emerson before they could cross the international border. They were then sent to the Brandon Internment Camp.

In 24 camps across Canada, more than 8,000 men, women, and children, primarily Ukrainians invited by the Dominion government to settle the West, were unjustly interned as enemy aliens from 1914-1920 under the War Measures Act, their possessions taken, and not all returned.

80,000 others were forced to register semi-regularly with authorities. They suffered, not because of anything they had done, but because of where they had come from. Many remained “in fear of the barbed wire fence” long after their release.

The event will take place Saturday, September 17 at 2 p.m. (CT) at Emerson Corner Park (intersection of Main and Church streets), Emerson, Manitoba.

UCCLF worked collaboratively with the Municipality of Emerson-Franklin Tourism Committee and others to create the permanent exhibit, which features a photographic monument, as well as an interpretive panel.

“There cannot be reconciliation without education,” said UCCLF’s Borys Sydoruk. “We are grateful for the hard work by the volunteers in this community and from across Canada in helping plan, design, create and consecrate this important memorial. The exhibit will educate as well as emotionally remind visitors to the park what happened in Canada a century ago, to minorities like Ukrainians and others, when the government implemented laws based on fear and hysteria and directed it at specific ethnic groups.”

The affected communities included Ukrainians, Austrian, Bulgarians, Croatians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Poles, Romanians, Serbians, Slovaks, Slovenes and others, of which most were civilians.

Please visit the Manitoba Museum for more background information on the Emerson arrests and internment:

“Enemy Aliens” Emerson, May 1915, Manitoba Museum

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