Dear Canada: A step back in time


Prisoners in the Promised Land

Prisoners in the Promised Land
The Ukrainian Internment Diary of Anya Soloniuk

By Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch

ISBN: 978-0-439-95692-5 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-4431-2404-1 Ebook
227 pages | Ages 8-12 | 5 3/8" x 7 5/8"

Anya and her family have made a difficult journey to Canada in search of a new life. But soon after they arrive in the land they hoped would welcome them, World War I is declared, and Ukrainians are considered "enemy aliens" — many of them sent away to internment camps. Anya must find a way to deal with the challenges in the land she now calls home.

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From Anya's diary:

Monday, May 18, 1914

Mama insisted that I go to school today. I didn't want to walk alone because I am afraid of that man who called us names. I knocked on Stefan's door but no one answered so I had to walk by myself.

Unfortunately, that awful man was leaning against the door of his flat with a smirky look on his face. I had no choice except to pass him because there was too much traffic to cross over to the other side. I kept my eyes on the sidewalk and walked as close to the road as I dared. Just as I passed, I heard a smacking noise and then I looked down and saw a splat of greeny-yellow. It had barely missed me. I walked fast, keeping my head down. Why would he do that? He doesn't even know me.

When I went back out to the schoolyard, I saw that Slava was there and she was in the clean clothing that Baba and Mrs. Sonechko found for her on Saturday night. Those Canadian girls pretended they didn't see her. I know their names now: Ellen, Louisa and Annie (!!!).

I have to help Baba with the supper and then I'm going up to the roof where it's safe. I'll write more later.

Tuesday, May 19, 1914

Miss Boyko is teaching us a song in English. It is "God Save the King." We need to know it by Friday because that is Empire Day, which is sort of like the King's namesday. We stayed inside over recess and lunch to practise.

These are the girls in my class:

— Mary and Slava you already know.
— Sofia, Pasha and Olga are sisters. Sofia is twelve but she's very short, Pasha cries a lot, and Olga pinches.
— Genya is about ten — I think — and her English is rather good.
— Natalka has been in Canada for four years but she is not bright. She struggles with the Ukrainian classes as much as the English lessons. She is a friendly girl and has a singing voice like a nightingale.
— Marusia is friendly and she's smart too. She is also a good singer.
— Stefania has been sick more days than not so I don't know her very well. She's eight years old. She was at school today but her throat hurt too much to sing.

The only Canadian girl whose name I know besides the mean girls is Maureen. She is picked on by the mean girls too. Is it horrible for me to admit that I am relieved that they don't only pick on Ukrainian girls?

Maureen seems lonely and sad. I didn't realize until today that she lives on Grand Trunk Street not too far from me!

From Dear Canada: Prisoners in the Promised Land, copyright © 2007 by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch.


This is the first Dear Canada book I ever received, and it has been my favourite ever since! It was just beautiful and I still read it every chance I get! It's amazing. Anya + Stefan = <3!!!
Jacko T., Age 13, Ontario, Rating: 10

I love this book!!!!!!!!!!!! It was funny, sad, and downright depressing. I NEVER read a better book.
Alice A., Age 9, Ontario, Rating: 10

I love this book because it is very empowering.
Christiana H., Age 11, Nova Scotia, Rating: 10

An amazing story. I couldn't put it down. It was really informative. I can read it over and over and never get sick of it.
Alyssa H., Age 15, Ontario, Rating: 10

I cried buckets over Anya's plight. My great-grandmother was Ukrainian and came to Ellis Isle by cattle boat in 1924 at age 14 with her 12 year old sister. Ten years earlier, and she would have been in an Internment camp too. She was the kindest, greatest person in the world, and had an extremely hard life growing up poor in the mountains. She wouldn't deserve internment and neither did Anya.
Sofia, Age 12, Toronto, Rating 10

I just started reading this book, so far it is very good! I am also from a Ukrainian family, so I can relate with some of the things that they do in here. I learnt alot of new words in different languages!
Jordan R., Age 12, Saskatchewan, Rating: 9

THIS WAS AN AWESOME BOOK! I think it is very sad that they had to leave their home and go to Canada, and worse they had to share a house with two other families! I am glad they got to go to Spirit Lake. I thought Stefan and Anya would get married.
Asia L., Age 10, Nova Scotia, Rating: 10

I love this book! It was the first dear Canada book I read and I fell in love with it! I am part Ukrainian and this book really helped me learn about my heritage. Good job Dear Canada!
Chelsea M., Age 10, Alberta, Rating: 10

It is an awesome book to read when you are Ukrainian!!
Hailey H., Saskatchewan, Rating: 10

This was my second Dear Canada book it is very well written and I could picture all the characters. It is very sad in parts like when Ayna and her family are sent to the internment camp, so I would not recommend it to anyone under 10.
Skyler H., Age: 12, Ontario, Rating: 9

This book is marvelous! It's funny, sad, and just plain amazing! I love it so much that I like to believe that Anya was real.
Kelsey D., Age: 14, British Columbia, Rating: 10

The book is so great i loved loved loved it! I think the story is amazing and it's so fantastic that I know its a true story! Thanks a lot.
Charlotte-Ophely D., Age 13, Quebec, Rating: 10