The Grande Prairie Museum is now home to one of 100 plaques across Canada, commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the implementation of the War Measures Act.
During World War One, thousands of men, women, and children from eastern Europe were imprisoned in internment camps across the country under suspicion of being enemy aliens.
Those prisoners were used as forced labour for the construction of government infrastructure such as the Trans-Canada Highway and the Banff National Park.
Peace River MP Chris Warkentin says the plaques help recognize a troubling time in Canadian history.
“There was a sentiment at that time that people who had come from certain parts of the world might be enemies, and were considered enemy aliens. That was the sentiment at that time, obviously it was wrong, and I think today we commemorate that and honour those people that lived through that dark period.”
Warkentin says those internment camps had an immensely significant impact on the lives of thousands of Canadians and their families.
“They continued to build the country, even during their internment, and then later on, they went on to build strong families and strong roots here in the Peace Country and throughout Canada, and of course we benefit from that lasting legacy, even though it is a result of a dark chapter in Canadian history.”
In 2008, the government provided a $10 Million endowment to the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, which is being used for redress and commemoration of those internment sites across Canada.