Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Transfiguration


Plaques recall dark chapter in Canadian history

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Mark Davis
Waterloo Region Record

plaqueKITCHENER — A dark chapter in Canadian history was recalled Friday with the nationwide unveiling of 100 commemorative plaques.

The plaques recall the internment of thousands of people of European descent in Canadian camps during the First World War.

In Waterloo Region, plaques were unveiled at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Waterloo, St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Cambridge, and the Concordia Club in Kitchener.

Aug. 22 marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the War Measures Act, which paved the way for the mass internments at camps across Canada from 1914 to 1920.

During a ceremony at the Concordia Club, Rev. Wally Hambrock spoke of the injustices inflicted upon immigrants who were simply trying to build a future for themselves in Canada.

“We do not live in the zeitgeist, the spirit of those times,” he said.

About 5,000 people of Ukrainian descent and about 2,000 people of German descent made up the two largest groups deemed “enemy aliens” and imprisoned during the war.

It had nothing to do with anything they’d done, and everything to do with who they were and where they came from, said Tony Bergmeier, who nominated the Concordia Club as a plaque location.

He reminded guests that the club itself was ransacked during an anti-German riot in 1916.

The Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation spearheaded the plaque project, which was funded by the federal government’s Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund.

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