Father Andrzej Wasylinko

Plaque unveiled at Kelowna church commemorating Ukrainian internment

The Kelowna plaque was one of 100 unveiled across Canada Friday, 100 years after the first internment camps opened.

A plaque has bee unveiled at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian Catholic Church in Kelowna commemorating the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians in this country from 1914 to 1920.

The plaque  was one of 100 unveiled across the country simultaneously at 11 a.m. Friday.

One of the internment camps, which were the first of their kind in Canada and preceded similar camps used to hold Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, was located in Vernon.

Father Andrzej Wasylinko, pastor at the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukranian Catholic Church said for many who were interred, and their children, there was a sense of shame that stopped them from talking about their experiences in the camps. As a result, the internment is not widely known.

But he said he hopes the the plaques will help change that and there will be a sense of closure for the Ukrainian community, which he said has contributed a great deal to the building of Canada.

Ukrainian-Canadians, who came to this country as immigrants, were rounded up during the First Word War and put in the camps because they carried Austro-Hugarian passports and that nation was an enemy of Britain at the time. Some here, wrongly, considered the Ukrainian immigrants to be spies because they were from a country at war with Britain.

They were, in fact, hard-working, loyal residents of Canada, who, in some cases changed their names and fought for this country in the war.