Sudbury·Audio

Ukrainians in Sudbury remember First World War internees

Sudbury’s Ukrainian community will be taking part in a nationwide ceremony on Friday marking 100 years since the War Measures Act was enacted in Canada during the First World War.

Local woman says five families from Sudbury were interned during the First World War

Lydia Katulka is a member of the Ukrainian Seniors' Centre in Sudbury. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Sudbury’s Ukrainian community will be taking part in a nationwide ceremony on Friday marking 100 years since the War Measures Act was enacted in Canada during the First World War.

During the First World War, the Canadian government gave itself the right to imprison immigrants who it felt were enemy aliens. Sudbury is one of a hundred communities across the country that will remember those sent to internment camps. 8:32

That act allowed the federal government to arrest immigrants and prisoners-of-war from European countries who, at the time, were considered enemies and a threat to national security.

About 5,600 Ukrainians, Germans, Romanians, Armenians, and people of other descent were interned because of their ethnic background, said Lydia Katulka, a member of the Ukrainian Seniors' Centre in Sudbury.

This was a time of terrible shame and embarrassment because these people had really done nothing wrong.- Lydia Katulka, Ukrainian Seniors' Centre

Some of those thousands of people also lived in northern Ontario, including five families from Sudbury, Katulka said.

“Many times they didn’t even know why they had been picked up by police,” said Katulka. “This was a time of terrible shame and embarrassment because these people had really done nothing wrong.”

After being picked up, people were often sent off to internment camps and work sites.

The nearest internment camps were in Sault Ste. Marie and Kapuskasing, the latter of which also had a work site where prisoners were made to do heavy labour like building railroads and clearing forest.

Friday’s ceremony will take place in Hnatyshyn Park at the corner of Elm and Notre Dame in Sudbury. It will involve the unveiling of a plaque that remembers those Ukrainians who were interned as part of the War Measures Act.

“It’s to remember the unfairness of it all,” said Katulka. “They were just ordinary people who worked hard and contributed to this country. What was done was simply wrong.”

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