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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Canadian MP Wants Justice For Slave Labour Croats








Since I posted an opinion earlier today that I swore I would never touch upon, I decided to add this little unknown fact as a sidenote. Not too many Croatians that are 2nd, 3rd and sometimes even 1st generation in Canada know about the stereotypes and trials that Croatians had to endure in the earlier part of the last century. Especially during and after the 1st World War. Croatians weren't the only ones to suffer discrimination, by far, but it's a part of our history in this country nevertheless. I'm not going to flog a dead horse, so you can read it for yourselves.








Source: Croatian Times

28. 05. 09. - 15:00



Canadian MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj wants the mistreatment of Croatians in Canada during World War I acknowledged and commemorated. Wrzesnewskyj, a Liberal Party MP representing Toronto, re-introduced his Private Member’s Bill to commemoration the internment of 450 people of Croatian origin in a number of locations in Canada on Tuesday this week. They were used as forced labourers. Wrzesnewskyj’s bill urges the federal government "to acknowledge that persons of Croatian origin were interned and to provide for recognition of that event." He said: "With the outbreak of World War I, prejudice and racism were fanned into xenophobia, culminating in the implementation of the War Measures Act as a result of an order in council by the Canadian government.

 "Of the 5,954 Canadian citizens from Austria-Hungary considered to be enemy aliens, almost 450 Croats were interned. While some would prefer to sweep the tragic episode of internments from 1914 to 1920 into the dustbin of history, the Croatian Canadian community remembers them and, through public acknowledgement of them by the government, seeks to bring closure to this painful episode of our common history," he added. John Marion, a member of the Committee on Education, Culture, and Heritage of the Canadian-Croatian Chamber of Commerce, believes Wrzesnewskyj’s bill has been a long time in coming for Canadians of Croatian origin.

 Marion said: "The internment operations were a dark episode in our common history. People of Croatian origin were not only disenfranchised but also lost their homes and homesteads and were sent away to live behind barbed wire and to work as forced labourers. The infrastructure development that resulted from internee labour benefited Canadian corporations to such a degree that the Canadian government continued the internment and the forced labour for two years after the end of World War I." Wrzesnewskyj said his bill mirrored legislation that addressed internment of Ukrainians, which had passed with the full support of all parties in the House of Commons. Wrzesnewskyj said: "It is my sincere hope that my colleagues on all sides of the House will embrace and support this worthy and long-overdue initiative."










Internment of Persons of Croatian Origin Recognition Act


Below is the transcript of the motion from the May 26, 2009 session of Parliament. 




Source: House of Commons Debates



Mr. Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre, Lib.) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-394, An Act to acknowledge that persons of Croatian origin were interned in Canada during the First World War and to provide for recognition of this event. He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill, the internment of persons of Croatian origin recognition act. The purpose of the bill is to acknowledge and commemorate a tragic episode in our nation's history when persons of Croatian origin were rounded up, interned and used as forced labour in a number of internment camps in Canada. With the outbreak of World War I, prejudice and racism was fanned into xenophobia, culminating in the implementation of the War Measures Act as a result of an order in council by the Canadian government.

Five thousand, nine hundred and fifty-four so-called enemy aliens, of whom more than four hundred and fifty were of Croatian origin who had immigrated to Canada from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were interned. While some would prefer to sweep this tragic episode of history of the internment operations of 1914 to 1920 into the dustbin of history, the Croatian Canadian community remembers and, through public acknowledgement by the government, seeks to bring closure to a painful episode in our common history. By enacting this legislation and recognizing this tragedy, it is my hope that a better public understanding of what happened will reinforce and promote our shared values of multiculturalism, inclusion and, above all, mutual respect. It is my sincere hope that my colleagues on all sides of the House will embrace and support this worthy and long overdue initiative. (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)





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