Peter Goldring visits Ukrainian-Canadian internment site

November 24, 2011

Ottawa – Edmonton East Member of Parliament Peter Goldring will travel today to Quebec’s Abitibi to take part in the formal inauguration of the Camp Spirit Lake Interpretation Center.

Mr. Goldring is vice-chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Group and a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

“For the Ukrainian community in Canada this camp is a reminder of a time in history whose witnesses have now all passed away,” Mr. Goldring says. “Their story and the story of this time period is an important one for all Canadians.”

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.

“It is important that as Canadians we remember not only the good part of our history but those shameful episodes as well,” Mr. Goldring says. “By remembering we learn from the past and hopefully learn as well not to repeat those mistakes.”

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 of the Spirit Lake Camp, Mary Hanchurak, who was born in the camp, died in 2008 at the age of 92.

The construction of the interpretation center was made possible through a $400,000 grant from the Taras Shevchenko Foundation as a result of Mr. Goldring’s parliamentary colleague and good friend Inky Mark, former Member of Parliament for Dauphin-Swan River Manitoba, who was successful in having his Bill C-331 passed in Parliament. The bill called for redress for those who had been interned. In response to the passing of the bill, in 2008 the federal government established a $10 million fund to be used for projects to commemorate the camps and those who suffered in them.