“Project CTO” Plaque Unveiling

August 22, 2014

On behalf of the Premier, I am here with you today as we collectively recognize the 100th anniversary of Canada’s internment operations during the First World War.

In Manitoba, we take great pride in the diverse and inclusive nature of our society. However many Manitobans are not aware that horrible injustices still lurk in our not so distant past.

During this time, innocent German, Ukrainian and other European individuals were imprisoned across the country. Twenty-four internment camps were established and innocent men, women, and children labelled as enemy allies were forced into unconscionable conditions.

Sadly, Ukrainian Canadians formed the majority of the more than 8,500 Canadians detained between 1914 and 1920.

Two of these camps were located in Manitoba, one of which was here in Winnipeg.

These civilians had done nothing wrong. They were stripped of their freedoms, forced into labour, and subjected to many indignities only because of where they had come from.

Today we reflect on this period of Canadian history, and honour those who suffered under this injustice with this plaque, which I understand is one of a hundred plaques being unveiled in churches and community centres across the country with the assistance and participation of the German, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Serbian, and Croatian communities.

The plaque serves as a reminder of how fear and division can harm the innocent and tear at the fundamental fabric of our society. It also reminds us of the importance of continually seeking to build bridges between communities as a way to build understanding and mutual respect between people regardless of culture, ethnicity, race or religion.

We hope to pass on this important message to the next generation of Canadians. It is important that we remember what happened, and gain a deeper appreciation for the civil liberties we enjoy today.

I want to thank the Canadian Ukrainian Institute Prosvita and the Cathedral of Sts. Vladimir & Olga for making this historic unveiling possible, and providing me an opportunity to be here with you.