Freedom Had a Price.
Producer/Director: Yurij Luhovy.
National Film Board of Canada: 1994. VHS, 55 minutes.
World War, 1914-1918-Canada.
Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.
Review by Patricia Maruschak.
Towards the end of Freedom Had a Price, Professor Lubomyr
Luciuk comments that Canadians have come to see the years of World War I
as a time when Canada forged itself as a nation, yet the contributions of
non-English or French Canadians have been almost completely ignored.
Producer/director Yurij Luhovy's film is a first-rate attempt to expose
the cracks in this vision.
Freedom Had a Price thoroughly documents the
internment of five thousand Ukrainian immigrants, labelled enemy aliens
by the Canadian government, between 1914 and 1920. The film effectively
interweaves eye-witness accounts, narration, historical overviews, and
lots of original photographs to provide a vivid picture of life in the
This film would be an excellent supplement to junior or senior high
units on World Wars I and II, but for students to truly benefit from the
information provided some understanding of the issues of racism and
prejudice and how they can be manipulated during times of war is
necessary. Comments about the internees by "real Canadians," such as
"They were in the place where they should be. They were prisoners and
they were enemies of ours," and unbelievable photos of the looting of
German-Canadian clubs are almost painful to sit through but, if carefully
presented, Freedom Had a Price could help answer students'
inevitable question about the Holocaust: "Why did people let this
Freedom Had a Price is an intelligent, well-made film
that would be a valuable asset to any thorough history course.
Patricia Maruschak is a Winnipeg teacher.
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