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With news of the attack on the American naval base at Hawaii on December 7, 1941, years of smoldering fear and resentment against Japanese Canadians exploded into panic and anger in British Columbia.
At the time there were about 22,000 Japanese Canadians in British Columbia, some descendants of the first immigrants who sought work in Canada in the late 1800s. From the beginning, these newcomers had been subject to intense discrimination by a largely white Canadian society.
Ian MacKenzie, the federal cabinet minister from British Columbia pushed the Canadian government to take action.
"It is the governments plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.'"
"B.C. is falling all over itself in the scramble to be the first to kick us out from jobs and homes ... it has just boiled down to race persecution, and signs have been posted on all highways ... JAPS ... KEEP OUT." Muriel Kitigawa wrote to her brother. "We are tightening our belts for the starvation to come. The diseases ... the crippling ... the twisting of our souls ... death would be the easiest to bear."
Yukiharu Misuyabu and his family went to Lemon Creek, where 2,000 Japanese lived in shacks.
"The walls of our shack were one layer of thin wooden board covered with two-ply paper sandwiching a flimsy layer of tar. There was no ceiling below the roof. In the winter, moisture condensed on the inside of the cold walls and turned to ice."
The property of the Japanese Canadians - land, businesses, and other assets - were confiscated by the government and sold, and the proceeds used to pay for their internment. In 1945, the government extended the Order in Council to force the Japanese Canadians to go to Japan and lose their Canadian citizenship, or move to eastern Canada. Even though the war was over, it was illegal for Japanese Canadians to return to Vancouver until 1949.
In 1988 Canada apologized for this miscarriage of justice, admitting that the actions of the government were influenced by racial discrimination. The government signed a redress agreement providing a small amount of money compensation.
The apology for the Japanese internment camps would not have happened without the efforts of Tosh Suzuki, who sat in the public gallery to hear it. Mr. Suzuki, now 78, was just seven years old when a yellow school bus came to take him away from his Pitt Meadows home. He would spend the rest of his youth on the Prairies, missing school to help his family work in sugar-beet fields as they struggled to rebuild their lives.
Originally posted by HomerinNC
You know, I remember reading about the Japanese camps, the govt was afraid the japanese would attack from within, my question is why didnt they do that with the German or Italians?
26 internment camps were set up across Canada. In 1940 an Order in Council was passed that defined enemy aliens as "all persons of German or Italian racial origin who have become naturalized British subjects since September 1, 1922". (At the time, Canada didn't grant passports and citizenship on its own, so immigrants were "naturalized" by becoming British subjects.)
A further Order in Council outlawed the Communist Party. Estimates suggest that some 30,000 individuals were affected by these Orders; that is, they were forced to register with the RCMP and to report to them on a monthly basis. The government interned approximately 500 Italians and over 100 communists.
In New Brunswick, 711 Jews, refugees from the holocaust, were interned at the request of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill because he thought there might be spies in the group.
Originally posted by stirling
Right outside of the Vancouver Delta, nestled against the pacific shore lies the town of Steveston BC
Before tha war the Japanese immigrant fishermen and their families made up the entire population....
All were shipped inland to camps east of the Okanagan in Greenwood BC.
The town still exists but its never been the same.....
Originally posted by gwynnhwyfar
Don't/didn't you have your own small business bakery where you also sold the gluten free baked goods? Why did you relocate? I am glad that you are re-establishing your business, and this information about the BC concentration camps is very interesting, and sad. Thank you for sharing this. Best wishes for your business and family!