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Petawawa: Council considers historic plaque commemorating internment of Ukrainian Canadians

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

(File photo)

(File photo)

PETAWAWA - Council will reconsider a request to place a plaque in the municipality to commemorate the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War.

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association is proposing to unveil plaques across the country to mark the 100th anniversary next year of the War Measures Act, the parliamentary statute which suspended the civil liberties and personal freedoms of some Europeans and led to the establishment of Canada's first national internment camps.

The association hopes to erect a wall-mounted, bronze-coloured metal oval marker with a depiction of internees behind barb wire. The plaque will be labelled with a simple text saying "Recalling Canada's First National Internment Operations, 1914-1920."

Chief administrative officer Mitch Stillman recommended council look at the request given that Petawawa shares in the story of the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians. About 4,000 Ukrainian men and some women and children of Austro-Hungarian citizenship were kept in 24 internment camps and related work sites across the nation. About 750 detainees were held at Camp Petawawa between December 1914 and May 1916. They were released to make up labour shortages.

Deputy mayor Tom Mohns said that they should consider the request given Petawawa's role in both the First World War and Second World War, where German prisoners of war were held at Centre Lake, along with Canadian citizens of German, Japanese and Italian descent.

"It would be a shame if we overlooked this without putting some thought into it," he said.

If host municipalities agree, the plaques will be delivered by July, 2014.

"This really speaks to history and, perhaps, in the minds of a lot of people some injustices that were done to whole nationalities simply because of who they were," said Councillor Treena Lemay.

Stillman noted that he didn't believe the association's request violated the town's proclamation policy.

Sean Chase is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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