Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Banff exhibit sheds light on war prisoners

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BANFF, Alta. -- A little-known dark period of Canadian history is now a permanent exhibit in Banff National Park.

The exhibit Enemy Aliens, Prisoners of War: Canada's First World War Internment Operations 1914-1920 marks the thousands of Canadians who were taken prisoner by their own country during the First World War.

The 8,500 civilian prisoners, most of Ukrainian descent, were arrested and held in internment camps only because they were originally from Eastern Europe.

Federal Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said the event is something he recalls with "sadness and some shame."

"These sons and daughters of Europe, proud Canadians all, were arrested, detained and transported to one of 24 internment camps like this," said Kenney on Friday.

"They were put to work in what today would only be described as slave labour. In unthinkable conditions, without contact with their families, with their communications being monitored. They were treated quite literally as enemy aliens."

The prisoners were deemed to be a threat to Canada and sent to 24 internment camps across the country.

The Harper government set up the $10-million Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund in 2008.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 14, 2013 A21

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