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Title: Orest Kruhlak Interview
Narrator: Orest Kruhlak
Interviewers: Roger Daniels (primary); Tom Ikeda (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: August 3, 2010
Densho ID: denshovh-korest-01-0001

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TI: So today is August 3, 2010, we're in Seattle at the Densho studio, and conducting the interview is Professor Roger Daniels. On camera is Dana Hoshide, I'm Tom Ikeda, I'm the secondary interviewer, and we're interviewing Orest Kruhlak. And at this point I'm just going to go ahead and turn it over to Roger.

RD: Orest, why don't you start out with giving us, very briefly, family background, where you were born, brought up.

OK: I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and was raised there until I went off to college. And I attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, for my bachelor's degree, and I majored in political science with a minor in history. And then did my PhD work at the University of Alberta in political science and did some work at the University of Michigan at the Survey Research Center. And my PhD thesis was on political psychology of voting, party identification. And left after finishing my work at the University of Alberta, I went to teach at Western Washington in Bellingham for a year, and then went to York University in Toronto. Taught there for two years, and went to Ottawa with a colleague of mine from the university, from York University, Keith Spicer, who was appointed Commissioner of Official Languages. And he asked me to come up to Ottawa to essentially help him set up the office. And basically the job I had was to start to establish a research program in the Office of the Commissioner to start looking at issues around official languages in Canada as a follow-up to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.

RD: Now, when was that exactly?

OK: That was in 1969 to 1972. In '72 I was approached, by the Assistant Undersecretary of State, Bernard Ostry to come to work in the Department of the Secretary of State in the new Multiculturalism Program that was established by the Prime Minister in... well, he made the announcement in October of 1971. And I went there to, for a year, I said to myself, "I'm going for a year, and then I'm going back to the university." As an aside, at that time, there were four of us from the Department of Political Science at York University, all on leave, all working in Ottawa. And the chairman of the department and the dean said, "You guys had better come back, 'cause we're kind of thin on the ground here. And if you don't come back, resign." With one exception, and that was Ed Broadbent, who was a member of Parliament, went also on leave from the Department of Political Science. So I resigned as did Fred Schindler, and I can't remember now who the fourth was, but he returned to the university. I ended up staying in Ottawa basically for the next thirty years. Physically I was in Ottawa, but I was with the federal government with some exceptions. I took leave in 1989 from the department and I went with a colleague, a friend of mine in Vancouver, and we established a private foundation to essentially study cultural diversity and race relations in Canada. And it was called the Laurier Institute, just a wonderful, wonderful man in Vancouver, Milton Wong, was the force behind this along with the person who ultimately became the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, David Lam. The whole purpose of that foundation was to be able to study questions like the Japanese Canadian redress issue without any ties to government. One of the founding principles of the foundation is that it would not accept any government funding of any kind. All of the funding had to come from either foundations or private individuals, so that we would have the freedom to be able to say what we wanted to say in the research studies that we commissioned.

I stayed there for three years, and then in 1990... well I was, let me go back a bit. I was, when I was on leave, I was at the University of British Columbia teaching in Department of Political Science, and after two years of that leave, I went to the foundation as the executive director. Stayed for two years, and then the Department of Secretary of State said, "Either come back or resign." I'd been given these ultimatums more than once in my life. I decided that I would go back, and I did it for what were probably very selfish family reasons, and that was ensuring that I had a pension and things like that, and benefits for my family. The Laurier Institute continues to this day in Vancouver, it never realized the goals we had set forth, that we were never able to get all of the funding in the private sector that we had hoped to. But it commissioned quite a number of studies, it still is active running speaker series and events such as that.

When I was back in the Department of Secretary of State, in 1993, the liberal party won election, and they went into a major, major restructuring of government. And in the course of that restructuring, the Department of Secretary of State was eliminated, it became part of a new department called the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Multiculturalism Program was incorporated into that new department along with what were parts of the old Department of Communications, part of what was Citizenship, all of that. I fondly referred to it as "garbage can Canada" because where they didn't know where to put something, they put it in the Department of Canadian Heritage. I was in that department until I retired in 2001, and when I was still... shortly before I took leave in 1989 to go teach at the University of British Columbia, in 1987 I was asked, as I mentioned, to go back in '86/'87 as the Assistant Under-Secretary of State Responsible for Multiculturalism. I returned back to the, Vancouver, to the West Coast, and six or seven months later I was called by the Deputy Minister and said, "We want you to work with Roy Miki on finalizing all of the payments to Japanese Canadians." Basically, our focus was on those in Japan who we were going to provide compensation to according to the agreement. And so I went back and I worked with Roy and Paul Kariya for a number of months as we finalized that, and that was my last official involvement with the whole Japanese Canadian issue.

TI: I'm sorry, Orest, what was that again? What was the date of that?

OK: That was in 1988. It was the spring of 1988 when we finalized all of the payments. In terms of my involvement --

TI: 1988 or 1989? '88 would be the year of the agreement.

OK: And '88/'89... I guess, no, maybe it was '89 that I went back --

TI: For the payments.

OK: 'Cause I was teaching... all these dates now are starting to run together.

<End Segment 1> - Copyright © 2010 Densho. All Rights Reserved.