Author: Aram Adjemian
This graduate thesis, written by Aram Adjemian, explores the efforts undertaken by Canadians in support of the Armenian people from 1880 to the 1920s. During that time, Canadian Protestant missionaries stationed in the Ottoman Empire wrote home about atrocities they witnessed, and some of their reports and pleas for assistance were published in the Canadian media. Money for Armenian relief was collected and sent abroad on several occasions. Imperialist-minded Canadian intellectuals and politicians – influenced by their Christian heritage and their work for social reform – were especially involved in the Armenian relief efforts.
In early 1920, some Protestant groups lobbied government to oppose the return of the Armenian provinces to Turkish rule. The Canadian government echoed those pleas and subsequently demanded that Britain share with it timely and appropriate information about the negotiations of the Turkish peace treaty. Several prominent British and Canadian individuals suggested that Canada take on a daunting League of Nations mandate for Armenia, should the United States fail to do so. However, the vigorous reaction was short lived, as interested parties became increasingly preoccupied with domestic concerns.
The failure to prepare the public for more sustained protest activities and to initiate a discussion on a more meaningful Canadian role offers a practical perspective for considering the reaction to more recent humanitarian crises. It illustrates how preparing the public to sacrifice personal and public funds is vital if international humanitarian interventions are to prove truly effective. Most of the primary manuscript material cited in this thesis was consulted at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, Ontario.