Vernon’s Sutton Real Estate building is the site of the Sunflower project mural

Vernon’s Sutton Real Estate building is the site of the Sunflower project mural

Cherryville artist seeks First World War internment camp stories

Exhibition to relay stories of those affected by the 24 internment camps during the Great War, including in Vernon.

A Cherryville-based artist is seeking help in providing information and stories on a dark chapter in Canadian history.

Kerri Parnell is working with the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund to create a series of paintings for a travelling art exhibition that will depict the internment of Ukrainian and Eastern Europeans in Canada during the First World War.

“This exhibit will inform the public on the events and stories of those who were and still are affected by the internment camps,” said Parnell. “There is much information on the Japanese internment camps of the Second World War but not much exposure on those that took place in the First World War between 1914-1920.”

The paintings will be completed in a year’s time and once completed will tour across Canada, added Parnell.

The First World War Internment Recognition Fund is the same granting body that supported the Vernon Sunflower project mural, which was  painted by artist Michelle Loughery on the Sutton real estate building.

The fund was established to support projects that commemorate and recognize the experiences of all of the communities affected by Canada’s internment operations from 1914 to 1920.

During the First World War, men, women and children of primarily Ukrainian and Eastern European descent were deemed as “enemy aliens” and rounded up and transported to 24 internment camps across the country.

One of the longest operating camps was in Vernon, where  MacDonald Park adjacent to W.L. Seaton Secondary  School is now located. Eleven individuals died while in custody at the Vernon Internment Camp.

A camp located east of Cherryville, near the Monashee Pass, also saw detainees used as unpaid labourers to maintain the road (now Highway 6) between Cherryville and Edgewood.

Parnell is seeking individuals and families of internee descendants, or any internees themselves, to share their stories .

She can be reached by phone at (250) 547-7987, or e-mail Keparnell@hotmail.com

For more information on the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund,   email project manager Andrea Malysh at  malysh@internmentcanada.ca or visit internmentcanada.ca.