Donation shines a light on Canada’s untold history

August 25, 2017

Mark O’Neill with the Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund

The Canadian Museum of History’s sister institution, the Canadian War Museum, permanently presents Canada’s contribution to wars, conflicts and international peacekeeping missions. But historians involved in the new Canadian History Hall also wanted to include the impact of war on Canadians, including lesser-known events.

Enter the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF). For many years, the CFWWIRF has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the communities affected by Canada’s first national internment operation. From 1914 to 1920, forced detention affected 8,579 Canadians, so-called enemy aliens. This group included Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, various people from the Ottoman Empire, Polish, Romanians, Russians, Serbians, Slovaks and Slovenes. Most internees were Ukrainian and most were civilians. The CFWWIRF’s generous contribution of $100,000 to the Canadian History Hall helps ensure difficult topics like Canada’s First World War internment operations are presented in the most thoughtful way possible.

Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund

“The Canadian History Hall represents an important contribution to remembering, commemorating and recognizing the historic injustice suffered bythousands of innocent people,” said Ivan Grbešić, past Chair of the Endowment Council of the CFWWIRF. In the Hall, visitors can see some of the faces of those interned, as well as the ways they kept their spirits up — a cherished violin made at the camp and a cross fashioned from barbed wire are two artifacts on display.

Through the contributions of passionate and compassionate donors like the CFWWIRF, the new Hall shines a light on darker Canadian stories.