Sandra Semchuk Presents: “The Stories Were Not Told”

Sandra Semchuk’s first presentation in a series across Canada took place on January 31. Despite wintry conditions, more than 40 people came out to St. John’s Institute in Edmonton to hear about Sandra Semchuk’s work of 15 years, travelling to the locations of all the internment camps in Canada and talking to descendants of internees. In The Stories Were Not Told: Canada’s First World War Internment Camps, Sandra shares family stories, information from archival records, and historical and current documents and photographs.

From 1914 to 1920, thousands of men who had immigrated to Canada from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire were unjustly imprisoned as “enemy aliens,” some with their families. Many communities in Canada where internees originated do not know these stories of Ukrainians, Germans, Bulgarians, Croatians, Czechs, Hungarians, Italians, Jews, Alevi Kurds, Armenians, Ottoman Turks, Poles, Romanians, Russians, Serbians, Slovaks, and Slovenes, amongst others. While most internees were Ukrainians, almost all were civilians.

The program included welcoming words from Cathie Crooks, Associate Director of University of Alberta Press; presentation by Sandra Semchuk, Governor General award-winning photographer and visual artist and special guests: Jerry Bayrak, descendant; Andrew Hladyshevsky, President of the Board of the Shevchenko Foundation,  Emil Yereniuk, Chair of the CFWWIRF Endowment Council, with contribution from Jars Balan, Director of Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies.

The research, the book and the cross-Canada tour have been made possible by the Endowment Council of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund. We would like to thank the St. John’s Institute for hosting the event and the Alberta Ukrainian Heritage Foundation for their sponsorship.

Book & tour promo, courtesy of Donna Korchinski.