The Forgotten Prisoners

-Sanam Prasad, Miranda Walston & Phoenix Yurkovitch

*illustrations rendered by Milo Groundwater

The image we chose to put on our $2 bill was that of the Eastern European internment camps in Canada from the First World War. We chose this event because it is often excluded in discussions of Canada’s national history and heritage. This lack of recognition shows how absent the camps have been when discussing Canadian history and the First World War; especially when in comparison of similar camps of the Second World War. This project aims to rectify this oversight in Canadian history and hopefully ensure that this symbol will allow this history to not be forgotten. Since it was impossible to choose any individual camp, our image became a composite of some important features found in each location. The picture includes the wire fences, rock boundaries, and isolation of the camps. Additionally, this image shows the prisoners being sent off as forced labourers. The prisoners cleared land, built roads, and worked on experimental farms. For the reverse side we chose an updated picture of the Queen. While we debated having a different portrait, we felt that it was important to remember that she, alongside the decisions of our government, represents the values of Canadians. Furthermore, there was no one person connected – positively – to the camps. 

Suggestions for Further Reading

Government of Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Bill C-331 (Historical) Internment of Persons of Ukrainian Origin Recognition. 38th Parl, 1st Sess, (October 10th, 2004). Accessed November 24 2019.

Kordan, Bohdan, and Craig Mahovsky. A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian-Canadian Redress. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

Kordan, Bohdan S., and Peter. Melnycky. In the Shadow of the Rockies: Diary of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, 1915-1917 / Edited and Introduced by Bohdan S. Kordan and Peter Melnycky. 1991.

Luciuk, Lubomur. In Fear of the Barbed Wire Fence: Canada’s First National Internment Operations and the Ukrainian Canadians, 1914-1920. Kashtan Press, 2001.

Manz, Panayi, Stibbe, Manz, Stefan, Panayi, Panikos, and Stibbe, Matthew. Internment during the First World War : A Mass Global Phenomenon / Edited By Stefan Manz, Panikos Panayi and Matthew Stibbe. Routledge Studies in First World War History. 2019.

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One thought on “The Forgotten Prisoners

  1. Your choice of the Queen is provocative. Are you holding her to account by putting her here? Since she is on most of our coins and has been on some of our bills in the past, it’s hard to break the association with the celebratory nature of this image. In any case, it’s a bold move! Bravo!

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