Lethbridge Part of Nationwide August 22 "100 Plaques" Commemoration of the First World War Measures Act

Lethbridge – On August 22, 2014 the Galt Museum & Archives will host a commemorative ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the War Measures Act, legislation which launched Canada’s first national interment operations of 1914-1920, when thousands of people were detained based on their country of origin and subjected to indignities in twenty-four internment camps.

The ceremony will see the unveiling of a special commemorative plaque, one of 100 identical plaques to be unveiled coast to coast that day at 11:00 am local time in cathedrals, churches, universities, organizational headquarters, and museums starting with Amherst, Nova Scotia and ending in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

One of the 24 internment camps was in Lethbridge. More than one hundred local residents, branded as ‘enemy aliens’, were detained in this facility. Many of them were immigrants of Ukrainian, German, Austrian, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Rumanian, Serbian, Slovak, Bulgarian, Armenian, Kurd, and Turkish ethnic background. These individuals were profiled because they came from the enemy states and, in the minds of the government of the day, posed security risks.

The same War Measures Act was deployed again during the Second World War, against fellow Canadians of German, Italian and Japanese heritage; and in 1970, against some Quebecois.

“This commemorative nation-wide campaign hallows the memory of all of the internees,” says Archivist Andrew Chernevych, Galt Museum & Archives spokesperson for the unveiling, “and reminds all Canadians of the need to remain vigilant in defence of human rights and civil liberties, particularly in times of domestic and international crisis.”

The One Hundred Plaques project is spearheaded and coordinated by the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association. In Alberta, plaques will be unveiled in Calgary, Camrose, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Mundare, Munson, Vegreville, and Vermilion. More information, including a complete list of all the unveiling sites, is available on the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund website, www.internmentcanada.ca.

For more information about the Galt Museum & Archives, please call 403.320-3954, or check www.galtmuseum.com for updates.

Anine VonkemanComment