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Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land: The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk, Spirit Lake, Quebec, 1914 [Hardcover]

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 1 2007 Dear Canada
The heart-wrenching story of one girl's experience at a Ukrainian internment camp in Quebec during World War I

Anya's family emigrates from the Ukraine hoping for a fresh start and a new life in Canada. Soon after they cram into a tiny apartment in Montreal, WWI is declared. Because their district was annexed by Austria — now at war with the Commonwealth — many Ukrainians in Canada are declared "enemy aliens" and sent to internment camps. Anya and her family are shipped off to the Spirit Lake Camp, in the remote wilderness of Quebec. Though conditions are brutal, at least Anya is at a camp that houses entire families together, and even in this barbed-wire world, she is able to make new friends and bring some happiness to the people around her.

Author Marsha Skrypuch, whose own grandfather was interned during WWI at a camp in Alberta, travelled to Spirit Lake during her research for the book. "When we got to the cemetery, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Imagine seeing a series of crosses, all grown over with brush and abandoned, and knowing that the real person you based a character on had a little sister buried there? That real little girl was Mary Manko. She was only six years old when she and her family were taken from their Montreal home and sent to Spirit Lake Internment Camp. Her two-year-old sister Carolka died at the camp. Mary Manko is in her nineties now and is the last known survivor of the Ukrainian internment operations." explains Skrypuch.

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About the Author

MARSHA SKRYPUCH has become the pre-eminent children's writer on Canadian-Ukrainian history. She has won numerous awards and nominations for her books. Including the CCBC's Our Choice Award, Saskatchewan's Snow Willow Award and the 2004 Rocky Mountain book Award for Hope's War. She was also nominated for the W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize for her body of work and mentorship of other writers. Her most recent novels are Nobody's Child and Aram's Choice, and she has edited a new anthology of Ukrainian memoirs, Kobzar's Children.

Author's Residence: Brantford, Ontario

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skrypuch Shines in Dear Canada Story! Aug. 17 2007
Marsha Skrypuch has written an absolutely lovely story in this, the newest volume of the Dear Canada series.

Prisoners in the Promised Land tells of one family's journey from their home in Austria-Hungary to a new life in the land of promise. Told through the eyes of young Anya Soloniuk, readers will find their hearts fully engaged as they read how Anya and her family's bright hopes are replaced by hardships and imprisonment.

Skrypuch manages to maintain a tone that is neither self-pitying nor judgemental. Rather, she expertly sustains the innocent, gentle voice of Anya, who wonders why her family was encouraged to come to a country only to be placed in an internment camp, though they had done nothing wrong.

Start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story Oct. 30 2007
Marsha Skrypuch breathes life into a little-known part of Canadian history. Young Anna's roller coaster of hope and despair in Canada's hinterland is haunting. Hard to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Reason for Reading: I am reading this whole series. I picked this particular volume because I am participating in a WWI reading challenge.

I've only read a couple of Skrypuch's books so far, but she has become one of my favourite Canadian juvenile authors. Mostly, her historical fiction revolves in some way around Ukrainians as that is where her heritage comes from and her own family genealogy is always a great starting point. Skrypuch does write about other topics but this recurring theme is interesting as it is unique. Once again, I have learned something new from one of Marsha's books. I had no knowledge whatsoever of the Ukrainian internment camps in Canada during WWI; of course everybody knows of the Japanese ones during WWII but why not the earlier Ukrainian ones? Perhaps because they make very little sense at all from a political point of view.

This book is a fantastic read. While it takes place primarily in Canada, it does start with the boat trip to the new land, the WWI story is told through the newspapers and discussions of the Ukrainian people as they sit caught in the middle of this war. Their homeland is the battlefield in Eastern Europe for a long period of time and yet the Ukrainians are neither friends with the Austrians/Germans who own their land or the Russians who invade it. All news they hear is bad, because whether it is the Allies or the "enemy" winning on their homeland it means their people, friends, relatives are in danger and dying. Through the news the family receives and letters from home and friends across Canada, until letters are halted due to the War Measures Act, we get to see a side of WWI which I've never experienced before. All my WWI reading has been about the trench warfare in France/Germany.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slice of History Nov. 23 2007
Marsha Skrypuch has done a very nice job of casting light on a relatively
unknown part of Canadian history.

I like her writing style. She settled on one character Anya and built
the story around her, her family, her neighbours, her schoolmates, the
internment camp guards, the native people near the camp. Her device of
getting access to newspapers was simple and effective.

The book is aimed at teenaged girls, but should appeal to a much much wider audience.
I am a sixty year old male and I enjoyed it very much.

Great job.
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