“Enemy Aliens”

Ukrainian Internment Camps – 1914-1920


At the beginning of World War I in August 1914, the Canadian government enacted the federal War Measures Act (WMA). The Act’s sweeping powers permitted the government to suspend or limit civil liberties in the interest of Canada’s protection, including the right to incarcerate “enemy aliens”.

The term “enemy alien” referred to the citizens of states legally at war with Canada who resided in Canada during the war. Under the authority of the WMA, Canada interned 8,579 enemy aliens, men, women, and children, in 24 receiving stations and internment camps from 1914-1920.  One of these camps was only 7 miles west of Saskatoon at Eaton Siding, current home of the Saskatchewan Railway Museum.



The majority of those interned were of Ukrainian descent, targeted because Ukraine was then split between Russia (an ally) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, an enemy of the British Empire. In addition to those placed in camps, another 80,000 enemy aliens, again mostly Ukrainians, were forced to carry identity papers and to report regularly to local police offices.


The government frequently employed internees on massive labour projects, including the development of Banff National Park and numerous mining and logging operations. Internees had much of their wealth confiscated, although most were paid $0.25 a day, far less than that offered to labourers of the time period. Interned Canadians were also disenfranchised, lost their right to vote, during the course of the war.


War-time fervour and xenophobic fear had been the main factors driving the policy of internment, and not actual attacks on Canada’s domestic war effort by enemy sympathizers. There were a few inept plans for sabotage on Canadian soil, and fear of a German invasion persisted for several years, but no serious threats materialized.


The internment of Canadians left painful scars and, for Ukrainian Canadians in particular, the lingering suggestion of widespread disloyalty. In November 2005, after a long, grassroots campaign by the Ukrainian community, Bill C-331 recognized the internment of Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War and called for negotiated settlement between government and members of the Ukrainian-Canadian community. (Text modified from the Canadian War Museum)

Remembering Our History – The Camps by Armistice Films

Actor and activist Ryan Boyko founded Armistice Films in October of 2010. The film company began as a direct result of Mr. Boyko’s desire to tell the story of Canada’s first national internment operations through the power of cinema. It is a story of those lured to Canada by the false promise of a dream – hated when they arrived, turned into prisoners and slaves in the prime of their lives, in a country that promised them a chance, yet never told the story of their affliction. It is a subject struck from Canadian history books.

Armistice Films will release one episode every week. Please take a few moments to watch these short videos about the internment camp, an important and silenced part of Canada’s history.

The company is currently in high gear, financing Enemy Aliens. Armistice Films is the first Canadian company to receive funding directly from Ukraine through a contribution of 1.5 million Canadian from the Ukrainian State Film Agency. Armistice Films is working to raise an additional 3.8 Million CAD to begin filming Enemy Aliens this year. The making of this film will honour the trials and sacrifice of thousands of Ukrainians, Poles, Italians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Turks, Serbians, Hungarians, Russians, Jews, Slovaks, Slovenes, Czechs and Romanians whose home country was under the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s rule. Their freedom was stripped and they were forced into work camps. Many lost everything between the years 1914 – 1920.

To learn how you can give financial assistance to the making of this movie, please contact Ryan directly at ryan@armisticefilms.com or by phone at 647.294.2741




125 Years of Ukrainian Immigration to Canada


In 1891, two Ukrainian men, Ivan Pylypiw and Wasyl Eleniak, immigrated to Canada. These two men are considered to be the first Ukrainian settlers in Canada and were among the first wave of immigration of 170,000 rural farmers who left their homes in Galicia and Bukovyna to come to Canada. This first wave of immigration ended in 1914.


Galician Immigrants, circa 1911 (photo by W. J. Topley) thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

With the outbreak of the First World War, immigration virtually ceased and unnaturalized Ukrainians were classified as “enemy aliens” by the Canadian government. At the same time, over 10,000 Ukrainians enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Between both world wars, some 70,000 Ukrainians immigrated to Canada for political and economic reasons. They included war veterans, intellectuals, and professionals, as well as rural farmers. Between 1947 and 1954, some 34,000 Ukrainians, displaced by the Second World War, arrived in Canada. Representing all Ukrainian territories, they were the most complex socioeconomic group.

A young Ukrainian girl feeds the chickens on her parents' farm close to Usherville. Photo credit: saskarchives.com

A young Ukrainian girl feeds the chickens on her parents’ farm close to Usherville. Photo credit: saskarchives.com

While the Prairie Provinces absorbed the bulk of the first two waves of immigration, displaced persons settled mainly in Ontario. From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, only a few Ukrainians entered the country annually. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, limited renewed immigration from Poland and the Soviet Union saw perhaps 10,000 ethnic Ukrainians and Soviet Ukrainian Jews come to Canada. Since 1991, a modest but growing number of immigrants have come to Canada from Ukraine, largely because of the country’s political and economic instability. From 2004 to 2013, Canada welcomed 23,623 new permanent residents from Ukraine.


To commemorate 125 years of Ukrainian immigration to Canada, the UCC is collecting photographs of these new Canadians, your family members. Search through your photo albums and look for that special picture that captures a unique moment in the history of this nation. Email your photo with a brief description of the photo (who, when, what were the circumstances, place of arrival, and place of settlement) to Lesia Demkowicz at lesia@ucc.ca


For a wonderful silent movie about Ukrainian immigrants in Saskatchewan, visit the SaskArchives.

Proper Dance Attire and Hair


Does your dance teacher nag you about your hair?

Taking off your hoodie in class?

Being appropriately groomed?

Do you know why?

She’s preparing you for life out in the world.

Wear your uniform with pride. Be ready for class. Show you have prepared. Show that you are ready. Show that you care. Look like a dancer – feel like a dancer, for casual clothes in class equals a casual mind. Show up, and look the part. Don’t hide under sweaters. Your body is your instrument – show it so you can grow.

Be ready to receive corrections with humility and grace – they are your teachers gift to you. When you hide, you avoid feedback. When you get no feedback, that’s when you should start to worry.

Your teacher has given up. She does not want to ask you to take off your sweater one more time. Do this yourself, and be ready!

Be humble. Be hungry.

This is why good grooming is important.


modified from: @janegrechdance

Welcome to the 2016-17 Dance Year!

Welcome to all of our new and returning Rushnychok family!

This year, we have over 90 dancers and 60 families with the club. We look forward to a wonderful year of instruction from Sonya, Jason, and Shannon as well as our apprentice and tot instructors Kaitlin and Kennedy. Also, welcome to Austyn who will be an apprentice this year.

2017 is a very special year for Rushnychok as we will be celebrating 50 years of Ukrainian dance in Saskatoon! On our website, we plan to celebrate this anniversary by posting Club history and memorabilia from the past 50 years.  Please feel free to share any photos, videos, or memories that you may have. Get in touch with us by leaving a comment below.

As our dancers begin to learn their choreography, please mark the following special events on your calendar. We will be celebrating Malanka on January 21, 2017. Also, we are attending dance competitions in Saskatoon, North Battleford and St. Albert. We will be showcasing our dancers at our Final Recital on Saturday, April 29, 2017. 

We wish everyone a great year of dance making many memories !

Happy dancing!

Glenda Martens


Rushnychok Ukrainian Dance Association