For Immediate Release November 24, 2006
Etobicoke – Liberal M.P. Borys Wrzesnewskyj praised Liberal Leadership Candidate Gerard Kennedy for his pledge earlier today that under his leadership the Liberal Party of Canada would extend an apology to Canadians who were affected by exclusionary immigration policies and by past wartime measures.
“In making this apology, we will emerge as a stronger nation, more complete and more worthy of emulation by the international community,” said Kennedy.
The apology would accompany the introduction of an Apology Act – legislation similar to that which has recently been implemented in the province of British Columbia that enables apologies to be issued by governments without fear of being mired in liability issues. Under Kennedy, the Federal Government would work with affected communities to recommend suitable community educational and commemorative projects.
Joining Kennedy for his announcement were Liberal MP’s the Honourable Raymond Chan, the Honourable Navdeep Bains and Borys Wrzesnewskyj. Following the announcement Wrzesnewskyj underscored the importance of providing closure to the affected families and communities, including the Ukrainian Canadian community:
“The Ukrainian Canadian community was the victim of Canada’s first national internment operations. From 1914 to 1920 over 5,000 Ukrainian Canadians were interned and forced into hard labour. The example of Ukrainians from the St Michael the Archangel Parish in Montreal is gut wrenching. Members of this parish were herded up and transported by box car north to Spirit Lake. There they were forced into labour for the profit of their gaolers on the grounds of a large experimental farm. Sadly, due to the conditions in the internment camp, many died and were buried in the adjacent forest. Today, the site of this graveyard – this consecrated land – has been ‘desecrated through ambivalence’ with only two crosses still standing. It is a poignant example of the separation, humiliation, suffering, and finally desecrating neglect of their final resting place that has befallen Ukrainian Canadians who suffered unjustly under Canada’s internment policies. It sadly demonstrates what happens when we don’t properly acknowledge, commemorate and educate Canadians on the dark episodes in our past. Through this announcement Gerrard Kennedy has shown he understands the at times difficult episodes of our collective history and respects the contributions our multicultural communities have made for Canada.”