Peter Goldring visits Spirit Lake Internment Camp

November 25, 2011

Ottawa – Edmonton East Member of Parliament Peter Goldring says the formal inauguration of the Camp Spirit Lake Interpretation Center at the former internment camp in Quebec’s Abitibi region was “moving.”

Mr. Goldring is vice-chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Group and a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. The internment camp at Spirit Lake was one of 24 established by the Canadian government between 1915 and 1917 during the First World War. The majority of its 1,200 detainees were Ukrainian immigrants.

The camp at Spirit Lake was one of only two camps that held families, and was also one of two that were fenced in with barbed wire. The last known survivor, Mary Hanchurak, who was born in the camp, died in 2008 at the age of 92. The camp was one of the few internment camps with a cemetery, which still contains the remains of those who died while interned.

“No country has a perfect past,” Mr. Goldring says. “We all know too well that mankind is itself imperfect. Many countries of the world today conceal or refuse to admit their historical misdeeds to their citizens. One central message today is that Canada not only faces up to its past, but contributed resources, as it has done here, so that past government wrongdoings are memorialized. That way future generations can see, learn and hopefully not repeat such tragedies.”

Mr. Goldring adds that Inky Mark, former Member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan Lake, Manitoba, is to be commended for his successful initiation of Bill C-331. “The passing of that bill in Parliament led to this project’s initiation. Congratulations are in order to the citizens and foundation committee of Amos, who all with the partnership of the province of Quebec and area businesses helped to ensure the success of this  absolutely superb memorial to the darkness of excessive governmental actions toward its’ citizens.”