Between 1914 and 1920, Canada imprisoned thousands of Ukrainians in 24 internment camps across the country. Though the government established the First World War Internment Recognition Fund in 2008, the camps are still a little-known chapter of Canada's history. The Sunflower Project, a series of planned murals in Canada’s affected communities, aims to change that.
Headed by international muralist and internee descendant, Michelle Loughery, the Sunflower Project will feature a series of murals depicting the inmates’ stories and struggles.
“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 24 affected communities across Canada,” reads a release.
Loughery is the granddaughter of a camp prisoner who lost his brother in an Alberta internment camp. Tensions during World War I prompted the Canadian government to imprison over 96,000 Ukrainians and men, women, and children from other Eastern European nations.
The latest mural will debut in Vernon, British Columbia on June 15. Loughery and her team will also host a series of educational workshops in conjunction with the mural’s creation.
“We are hopeful that it will provide the impetus for further conversations about internment, the importance of cultural history, human rights, and social responsibility,” Loughery said. “We are starting the conversation between our youth and our seniors, our past and our present, to ensure a stronger future.”
Visit The Sunflower Project-Michelle Loughery Murals for more information about the initiative or to see photos of internment camp prisoners.