National Internment Mural Project
The Sunflower Project – Vernon, BC
The project, headed by local international artist Michelle Loughery, will serve to create memorial murals for communities affected by the internment of thousands of men, women and children of Ukrainian and European descent living within Canada during WW1. The murals, which will combine multi-media, traditional art and videography as well as historical photographs and personal stories from the families directly affected, are slated to appear in the affected communities across Canada over the next several years.
Between 1914-1920, thousands of Canadians of Ukrainians and Europeans were imprisoned in 24 internment camps across Canada, simply on the basis of their origins. For decades their stories were buried under fear and shame. The Canadian Government has finally recognized the interment operations, with the establishment of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, (CFWWIRF) yet it still remains an unknown chapter in our nation’s history. As an internee descendent, Michelle Loughery heard stories of her grandfather (Gido) spending his entire life looking for his brother who had been working in a camp and then disappeared. Her great uncle was finally found in the document, Roll Call, as POW#47 interned at Banff/Castle Mountain, Alberta. It is not known what happened to him since his incarceration. Her mural healing work with First Nation families who have survived residential schools and the fact her own family had been marginalized makes this project an personal journey to help educate the future on the past failings of Canadian soil. As it is only in learning from the past, can we become the wings of a better future.
Beginning in Vernon, one of the 24 internment camp locations, Loughery and her team will provide educational workshops in each community. These events, focused on information and story collection, will engage all generations and affected groups within the community. The goal of each workshop will be to share the cultural history of the people featured in the mural, and to create opportunities for social healing and the promotion of human rights.
The National Launch of The Sunflower Project, to take place at the St. Mary Ukrainian Orthodox Church, 4105 27th Street, Vernon on February 20, 2013 at 2:00pm, will be the first opportunity for project coordinators and affected community members to collaborate. We are hopeful that it will provide the impetus for further conversations about internment, the importance of cultural history, human rights and social responsibility.
The public and media are encouraged to attend, and to bring along copies of photographs and documents that may become useful in the piecing together of this chapter of our history.
For more on the CFWWIRF go to www.internmentcanada.ca