Grad student Kassandra Luciuk's graphic novel, Enemy Alien, featured in CBC Books

February 14, 2020 by CBC Books

Original article via CBC Books

This graphic history tells the story of Canada's first national internment operations through the eyes of John Boychuk, a Ukrainian internee held in Kapuskasing from 1914 to 1917. The story is based on Boychuk's actual memoir, which is the only comprehensive internee testimony in existence.

The novel follows Boychuk from his arrest in Toronto to Kapuskasing, where he spends just over three years. It details the everyday struggle of the internees in the camp, including forced labour and exploitation, abuse from guards, malnutrition, and homesickness. It also documents moments of internee agency and resistance, such as work slowdowns and stoppages, hunger strikes, escape attempts, and riots.

Little is known about the lives of the incarcerated once the paper trail stops, but Enemy Alien subsequently traces Boychuk's parole, his search for work, his attempts to organize a union and his ultimate settlement in Winnipeg. Boychuk's reflections emphasize the much broader context in which internment takes place. This was not an isolated incident, but rather part and parcel of Canadian nation building and the directives of Canada's settler colonial project. (From Between the Lines)

Enemy Alien is available on March 3, 2020.

Kassandra Luciuk is a PhD candidate specializing in Canadian history at the University of Toronto. nicole marie burton is an Ontario illustrator of comic books and children's literature.

See also: "17 Canadian comics to watch out for in spring 2020," CBC Books