The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Treatment of Japanese Canadians
BC Security Commission Notice:
May 19, 1942.
(This notice cancels the "White" notice issued May 12, 1942)
Listed below are general instructions respecting baggage and food to be taken to the Projects as shown, and deals only, with information pertaining to groups leaving Vancouver area to Commission Projects.
INTERIOR HOUSING PROJECTS:
SUGAR BEET PROJECTS:
WORK CAMP PROJECTS:
PLEASE NOTE THAT STOVES ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED
Additional Baggage over the weight allowed can be stored in Vancouver and forwarded by freight at the owner's risk and expense when required, and when room at the Project is available.
J. SHIRRAS, Commissioner
British Columbia Security Commission
- End of Security Commission Notice –
Sign in Kelowna
the women’s dormitory, the livestock barn
the men’s dormitory, the forum
Hastings Park was the clearing station from where Japanese Canadians were shipped out to internment camps in the interior of BC.
mattresses being stuffed with straw.
First Person Account by Harry Yonekura
My father transferred his fishing license to me when I was 16 years old. Fishing was good in 1941 and by the end of the season, I negotiated and agreed to buy the largest salmon gillnet fishing boat in the Fraser River at that time. 1942 was predicted to an even better and greater fishing season than 1941.
Pearl Harbor changed everything. And with the war, the Royal Canadian Navy started impounding all Japanese Canadian fishing vessels. To the fisherman, his boat is second only to his life, and when we witnessed the way the navy was handling the Japanese Canadian fishing boats, we were just shocked. Most of the fishermen lost their incentive to even look after their own boat. Their feeling was “I’ve lost my 50 years’ work.”
After the boat seizure comes the evacuation order. Steveston was a tightly-knit fishing community with the Fishermen’s Hospital, Administration Office, Fishermen’s Hall, Gymnasium (martial arts center) and four acres of land with a kindergarten all owned by the fishermen. We all attended Lord Byng Public School, which was half-financed by the Japanese Canadian community, but owned by the Richmond municipality. We attended English school from 9 am to 3 pm and Japanese school from 4 pm to 5 pm.
Around February, 1942, we found some fishermen’s families running into financial difficulties due to the fact that we lost our boats and have been unemployed since December 7, 1941. We formed a committee to help these families in hardship by organizing a food pool.
We also formed a crew to help families without manpower who needed urgent help in packing for the evacuation. It was during my volunteer service as a baggage crew that I witnessed one incident which changed my belief and thinking towards this awful situation thrust upon our community. A middle-aged lady with a baby on her back and a little boy beside her was on her hands and knees in front of a young, smart-looking RCMP, crying and begging that she be taken away with her husband too. When I witnessed this scene, I started to re-think and re-assess my volunteer service work. What I saw upset me. My volunteer service is not helping the evacuees!
I made the most important decision of my life. I became an underground activist and from this day on, I had no choice, no change of mind, but to openly go against the BC Security Commission and protest the breaking up of our families. My new life style as an activist resulted in my being picked up for not having the proper permit to stay in Vancouver, a restricted area. I was thrown into the immigration jail. I could not contact my family, but about the third day my mother and sister were able to visit me with my toothbrush and other necessities.
Then in the second week of July, 150 of us were shipped out of Vancouver to Angler POW camp in Ontario. As we entered Angler Prisoner of War Camp, I felt like I was caged in when the guards with machine guns closed the outer and inner barbed wire gates. We were ordered to surrender all civilian belongings except our underwear and supplied with POW outfits. I became POW No. 348.
Homecoming ’92 – Where the Heart Is
The Courage to Resist: Angler and the
Nisei Mass Evacuation Group
pp.20 – 24
First Person Account Mits Sumiya
Recollections from Camp 101 – Angler POW camp
I was attending the University of British Columbia when the war with Japan broke out. I had joined the OTC, pledging my allegiance to the King. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I was ordered to turn in my uniform.
Why Angler? Primarily for refusing to be evacuated, i.e., sent to road-camp. The government’s response was an immediate arrest by RCMP and turned over to the military, under guard, for incarceration at the immigration building. I remember I slept on the floor. The dinner was unchanging rice with stew poured on it, plus 2 pieces of meat on top. After a month and half of them, we were put into an old rail coach with wooden benches plus an armed guard of soldiers to escort us to Angler, Ontario.
In Angler, the attire of the internees was notable. They were unique and highly visible. There was a big red, 12 – 15 inch circle on the backs of shirts, jackets, coats and cardigans. The trouser leg had a 3-inch-wide strip running down from the thigh. The cap also had a red strip. The red was not in honour of the rising sun but to provide a better target for the guards in case of an escape.
Those considered trouble makers were sent to Angler. Among them were men who protested the breaking-up of family and demanded that the families be moved as a unit. There were some whose permit had expired or who had broken curfew and got caught. There were very few of us, myself included, who felt that their inherent rights as Canadians were being violated and refused to be evacuated. Then there were some, as sometimes is the case, who were there for no apparent reason that I could fathom.
Homecoming ’92 – Where the Heart Is
The Courage to Resist: Angler and the
Nisei Mass Evacuation Group
pp. 24 – 27
Angler, POW camp – Funeral of an inmate.
All prisoners wore a uniform with a red circle on their back so that they are easily spotted.
Notice - March 12, 1945
DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR
To All Persons of Japanese Racial Origin
Now Resident in British Columbia
Commissioner of Japanese Placement
March 12th, 1945
- End of Notice -
Notice to go east of the Rockies or be repatriated to Japan. “Repatriation” for many means exile to a country they have never seen before.
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRIME MINISTER C19-1952
You may wish to see the attached statement which was issued by the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians following the decision of the Supreme Court in the Japanese reference.
Also attached are three letters which are typical of the communications that we continue to receive each day. The majority of them are from church organizations, or from persons who have contact with church work. In my memorandum of February 11, concerning the memorandum sent out by the National Inter-church Advisory Committee on the Resettlement of Japanese Canadians, I mentioned that we were receiving “an average of possibly 10 to 15 letters a day protesting against the deportation policy”.
Since that time the number has somewhat increased. In the last week in February, we were receiving possibly 30 letters a day, though now the number has fallen to about 20 per day. Over the last three-month period we have probably received in the civinity of 700 to 1000 letters on this subject.
The number received has made it necessary to send a reply only if the letter has special merit or particularly calls for an answer.
Dated March 4, 1946 Signed RGR
“Mr. Robertson who has been following this subject closely tells me we almost never receive letters advocating or supporting the deportation policy.”
Signed JWP (JWP – Jack W. Pickersgill – Assistant to the Prime Minister)
This Jap Who Won B.C. Scholarship, newspaper, 1946 (?)
It is interesting to speculate on what must be running through the mind of young George Yano who has just won a $175 scholarship in senior matriculation examinations.
Yano’s educational life has not been easy as that of most students in this province. Because his parents were Japanese, this young Canadian had to leave his native Vancouver a few years back and go to the interior of the province. Regular educational facilities were denied him, so he commenced study by correspondence course, being determined on a university career.
Yano has been unable to join any of the armed services of his country because his country wouldn’t accept Canadians of Japanese ancestry. He must, indeed, be a very bewildered boy. He looks a few miles from Slocan into the United States and sees American-born Japanese living anywhere they wish in their country. He knows he will not be able to vote in two years, even though the amended elections act says persons of racial origin may if they are in uniform. But then, he wasn’t allowed in uniform. Yet he knows very well from reading the papers that thousands of Americans of similar ancestry are among the United States’ most decorated soldiers. He would probably like to attend university in the fall, but the university is in Vancouver and he’s not allowed to live in Vancouver.
Being no doubt an intelligent youth—most Canadian youth is intelligent—he must be a little baffled about this so-called repatriation to Japan. Looking up repatriation in the dictionary he finds it means “return or restoration to one’s own country.” He must wonder where on earth is the country of a person born in Canada, if it isn’t Canada. Until Pearl Harbor he had been led to believe Canada was his country, for wasn’t he born here?
He probably can’t make head or tail of the whole thing, and small wonder. He doesn’t
What is Yano’s future in his native land? Nobody can tell—least of all the young man himself. In the meantime, in the most precious years of his life, he drifts from pillar to post, his path seemingly very short, certainly very troubled and full of stones and ugly weeds.
As a people, Canadians commit themselves to the creation of a society that ensures equality and justice for all, regardless of race or ethnic origin.
During and after World War II, Canadians of Japanese ancestry, the majority of whom were citizens, suffered unprecedented actions taken by the Government of Canada against their community.
Despite perceived military necessities at the time, the forced removal and internment of Japanese Canadians during World War Il and their deportation and expulsion following the war, was unjust. In retrospect, government policies of disenfranchisement, detention, confiscation and sale of private and community property, expulsion, deportation and restriction of movement, which continued after the war, were influenced by discriminatory attitudes. Japanese Canadians who were interned had their property liquidated and the proceeds of sale were used to pay for their own internment.
The acknowledgement of these injustices serves notice to all Canadians that the excesses of the past are condemned and that the principles of justice and equality in Canada are reaffirmed.
Therefore, the Government of Canada, on behalf of all Canadians, does hereby:
Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, Sept. 22, 1988
– government document signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and sent to all Japanese Canadians who qualified for redress.
A Child in Prison Camp, Shizuye Takashima, Tundra, Toronto, 1971, pages 5, 6, 7
Vancouver British Columbia
Japan is at war with the United States, Great Britain and all
the Allied Countries, including Canada, the country of my
birth. My parents are Japanese, born in Japan, but they have
been Canadian citizens for many, many years, and have become
part of this young country. Now, overnight our rights as
Canadians are taken away. Mass evacuation for the Japanese!
“All the Japanese,” it is carefully explained to me, “whether
we were born in Tokyo or in Vancouver are to be moved to
distant places. Away from the west coast of British Columbia
--for security reasons.”
We must all leave, my sister Yuki, my older brother David, my
parents, our relatives – all.
The older men are the first to go. The government feels that
my father, or his friends, might sabotage the police and their
buildings. Imagine! I couldn’t believe such stories, but
there is my father packing just his clothes in a small suitcase.
Yuki says, “They are going to the foothills of the Rockies, to
Tete Jaune. No one’s there, and I guess they feel father won’t
bomb the mountains.”
The older people are very frightened, Mother is so upset; so are
all her friends. I, being only eleven, seem to be on the outside.
One March day, we go to the station to see father board the
At the train station
An empty bottle is tossed in the air,
Most of the men have been drinking.
An angry man is shouting.
The men are dragged violently into trains.
Father can be seen. He is being pushed onto the train.
He is on the steps, turns. His head is above the
shouting crowd. I see his mouth opening; he shouts
to his friends, waves his clenched fist.
But the words are lost in all the noise.
Mother holds my hand tightly.
A sharp police whistle blows.
My blood stops. We see a uniformed Mounted Police drag
an old man and hurl him into the train.
More curses, threats. The old train bellows
its starting sound. White, hellist smoke appears
from the top of its head. It grunts, gives another
shrill blast. Slowly, slowly, the engine comes to life.
I watch from where we stand, fascinated.
The huge, black, round, ugly wheels begin
to move slowly, then faster, and faster.
Finally, the engine, jet dark,
rears its body and moves into a lurch.
The remaining men rush toward the train,
scramble quickly into the moving machine.
Men crowd at the windows. Father is still on the steps,
he seems to be searching the crowd, finally sees us, waves.
Mother does not move. Yuki and I wave. Most remain still.
The dark, brown faces of the men become small.
Some are still shouting. Yuki moves closer to mother.
The long, narrow, old train quicly picks up speed
as it coils away along the tracks
away from all of us who are left at the station.
Mother is silent. I look at her.
I see tears are slowly falling. They remain
on her cheeks. I turn away, look around. The women
and the children stare at one another. Some women
cry right out loud. A bent old woman breaks out
Into a Buddhist prayer, moves her orange beads
in her wrinkled hands, prays aloud to her God.
Mother and the other women blow their heads.
The silent God seems so far away.
From March to September, 1942, my mother, my sister Yuki
Now our house is empty. What we can sell we do for very
Little money. Our radio, the police came and took away. Our
cousins who have acres of berry farm have to leave everything.
Trucks, tractors, land, it was all taken from them. They were
Moved with only a few days notice to Vancouver.
Strange rumors are flying. We are not supposed to own any-
Thing! The government takes our home.
What Do I remember of the Evacuation
by Joy Kogawa, in A Choice of Dreams,
McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1974, pp. 54-55
What Do I Remember of the Evacuation
What do I remember of the evacuation?
I remember my father telling Tim and me
About the mountains and the train
And the excitement of going on a trip.
What do I remember of the evacuation:
I remember my mother wrapping
A blanket around me and my
Pretending to fall asleep so she would be happy
Though I was so excited I couldn’t sleep
(I hear there were people herded
Into the Hastings Park like cattle.
Families were made to move in two hours
Abandoning everything, leaving pets
And possessions at gun point.
I hear families were broken up
Men were forced to work. I heard
It whispered late at night
That there was suffering) and
I missed my dolls.
What do I remember of the evacuation?
I remember Miss Foster and Miss Tucker
Who still live in Vancouver
And who did what they could
And loved the children and who gave me
A puzzle to play with on the train.
And I remember the mountains and I was
Six years old and I swear I saw a giant
Gulliver of Gulliver’s Travels scanning the horizon
And when I told my mother she believed it too
And I remember how careful my parents were
Not to bruise us with bitterness
And I remember the puzzle of Lorraine Life
Who said “Don’t insult me” when I
Proudly wrote my name in Japanese
And time flew the Union Jack
When the war was over but Lorraine
And my friends spat on us anyway
And I prayed to the God who loves
All the children in his sight
That I might be white.
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