Vernon’s war internment history remembered in documentary

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‘It’s about owning your history’: Vernon WW1 internment camp remembered in documentary
‘It’s about owning your history’: Vernon WW1 internment camp remembered in documentary – Feb 27, 2018

It’s a part of Canadian and Okanagan history that some are still not aware of: the internment of so called enemy aliens across Canada, including in Vernon, during World War One.

On Tuesday night a new documentary titled, That Never Happened, which sheds light on those camps, saw its local premier.

“Between 1914 and 1920, over 8,500 people were wrongfully imprisoned in Canada; not for anything that they had done but simply because of who they were and where they came from,” Director Ryan Boyko said.

The film aims to bring greater attention to that part of Canada’s history.

“Most of these records were destroyed in the 1950s and [the film] is really about the small group of people who fought to preserve this history and make sure that the mainstream people know about it,” Boyko said.
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The film’s title was inspired by a conversation Boyko had with a teacher as a high school student.

“I went to my grade 10 high school teacher and I said, ‘Can you tell us a little about the Ukrainian interment during World War I?’ He said, ‘You mean the Japanese interment during World War II?’ I said, ‘I mean the Ukrainian interment during World War I. He looked at me and said, ‘That never happened.’ So here we are premiering That Never Happened,” Boyko said.

The film has special meaning in Vernon where an internment camp was located on the site of what is now W.L. Seaton Secondary School.

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“I think it is important for us to show this film in all of the communities where it happened so that no one will ever say that that never happened again,” Boyko said.

Andrea Malysh, a relative of one of those interned, is passionate about making sure the tragic episode is not forgotten. She hopes Vernon audiences gain a different perspective of their community from the film.

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“It’s all about education and it’s about owning your history and telling it so it is not going to happen again,” Malysh said.

That Never Happened will screen at the Vernon Towne Theatre at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 27.

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