The Internment of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War
Life in Canada Many Japanese women adopted Western fashion. The Japanese owned stores.
Chef (and family) of the Prince of Wales’ Alberta ranch Staff of Tairiku (Japanese language) newspaper, 1910. Still published today as Canada Times.
Discrimination before Pearl Harbor • Discrimination: Making a difference or distinction, treating favourably/ unfavourably. • The Japanese Canadians did not have the right to vote (until 1948) and they could not be teachers or civil servants. They were not permitted to join the armed forces. • 1907-race riots in “Little Tokyo”, Vancouver 5000 racist Canadians marched into the area, smashing the windows of homes and stores. • Japanese were easy targets because they were a visible minority. Looted Store in 1907
Accounts of discrimination “I remember when we were kids there were some restaurants we couldn’t get into. […] The man at the soup pot waved a big spoon at us and yelled, ‘Stay out of here, you Japs.’ And some of the theatres downtown. They made you sit in the heavens, up in the back gallery, or over to the sides.” “They just did not like Japs. Small. Cunning. Money-mad. Greedy. Always trying to do the white man in. Got to watch him. Else he’ll get you. Can’t be trusted. Still loyal to the emperor. Still loves Japan. Sends his kids to Japanese-language school. Is a Buddhist. […] They were different, therefore inferior, and they should be exploited. Hell, wasn’t this Canada, a white country.”
More Discrimination • 1928-Mackenzie King suggested limiting the number of Japanese immigrants to control their population growth, which would lessen the risk of future riots.150 Japanese were allowed to enter Canada each year.
Obvious shows of loyalty to the state Japanese American grocery store To the U.S. Little girls saying the Pledge of Allegiance
Obvious shows of loyalty to the state To Canada Nisei girls in kimono welcome King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.
Pearl Harbor • 1941-the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The surprise attack destroyed 12 American warships and 188 planes and kills 2403 soldiers and 68 civilians; • The U.S. declared war on Japan. • Canadians feared that Canada was next to be attacked by Japan. • Racism towards Japanese Canadians escalated. Battleships USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Discrimination grows after Pearl Harbor Common Stereotypes Regarding the Japanese Questionable morals Threatening our homes
Discrimination...from Canada British Columbia (as an ordinary man) warns Eastern Canada (as a rich man) not to get bitten by the Japanese snake.
Hitler and Tojo, the two-headed monster invading the U.S. Generalizing the Japanese… Watch for the word “every”.
Internment • Paranoia set in after Pearl Harbor and the people of B.C. wanted to feel safe again. Mackenzie King wanted to have their votes for the next election and he was more than happy to oblige. • The Canadian government used the War Measures Act. • War Measures Act: A law passed in 1914 giving the federal government sweeping emergency powers in times of war, invasion or rebellion; the Act severely limited the freedom of Canadians. It was used during WWI, WWII and the 1970 FLQ Crisis. It was replaced in 1988. • Japanese Canadian non-citizens had no rights and could not legally refuse to obey. Japanese Canadian citizens were treated as enemy aliens, and also had no rights.
Over a period of 9 months, 22,000 people were taken from their homes and scattered throughout B.C. 75% of them were born in Canada. • They were forced to choose between deportation to Japan or relocation east of the Rocky Mountains (out of British Columbia). Most chose the latter, as Japan was a foreign country to them.
Canada sold their possessions Japanese boats and cars impounded and waiting to be sold. 1943-the Canadian “Custodian of Aliens” liquidated the Japanese Canadians’ worldly possessions without the owner’s permission. And then situations like these appear
An example of a sale…which went very wrong for the original owner • A loaned Kodak camera is now considered an “unconditional gift”. It was destroyed anyway in a very heroic way. • Many appliances were stolen, because the houses were unguarded.
Life in the Camps Slocan, the largest of the camps (5000 people) did not even have houses and the Japanese had to live in tents through the first winter.
Life in the Camps (2) Workers stuff straw into bags to make mattresses. Where the men slept at Hastings Park • At Hastings Park, women slept in a livestock building (a stable) where ventilation was inadequate. • Privacy was non-existent until they used sheets and curtains. • Food was unappetizing and outbreaks of diarrhea were common.
Life in the Camps (3) Children gathering the potato crop. Gathering scrap iron
Special case: Angler • If any evacuee resisted internment, he was sent to Angler, Ontario where he was treated as a prisoner of war. • He had to wear a large red circle on his back to provide ready target in any escape attempt. The burial of an inmate. Look at the circle on their backs.
Reparations • In 1986, it was shown that Japanese Canadians lost $443 million during the internment. • P.M. Mulroney announced the Canadian government's formal apology for the wrongful incarceration, seizure of property and the disenfranchisement of thousands of Canadians of Japanese ancestry. • On September 22, 1988, he signed the Redress Agreement providing $21,000 for each individual directly wronged. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Art Miki, President of National Association of Japanese Canadians after signing the Redress Agreement, 1988
Final Thought April 29, 1946 “I shift aimlessly within the deserted station, waiting quietly for the train to arrive. It seems unusual that no guard is present. I watch as the train began to slow down on its approach. It arrived to take me to a new and uncertain future amd I boarded the coach and sat down comfortably beside an open window. Looking outside, I saw the barren hills that had crested the place that had been my home for the last four years. I caught myself glancing back for an official and guard, but there was none. I remained seated beside my brother and fell asleep dreaming of what tomorrow would bring. Sayonara, goodbye, Angler.” Sando, Tom. Wild Daisies in the Sand: Life in a Canadian Internment Camp. Edmonton: NeWest Press, 2002.