The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Treatment of Japanese Canadians



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The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Treatment of
Japanese Canadians


Objectives:

  • Students demonstrate an understanding of equality and fairness in Canada with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Students learn how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms might have protected Japanese Canadians from the treatment they received in the 1940s.*

  • Students find evidence to back up their opinions using a variety of primary and secondary sources.

  • Students will also learn about some of the challenges that Japanese Canadians faced.

Materials and Resources:

  • copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (optional)

  • copies of the student page: “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Treatment of Japanese Canadians” chart which are available for download in pdf format

The War Measures Act

  • Registration cards – everyone of Japanese ancestry over 16 years of age must be fingerprinted and photographed and carry an identity card to be shown on demand.

  • Notice – Feb. 1942 – “To all persons of Japanese racial origin” – curfew from sunset to sunrise; confiscation of motor vehicle, camera, radio, firearm, ammunition or explosive; RCMP is authorized to search without warrant; every person of the Japanese race shall leave the protected area; regardless of place of birth.

  • Travel Permit – Japanese Canadians could not leave an area without reporting to the RCMP and obtaining a travel permit.

  • Newspaper photos – “They Walked Home” - confiscation of cars, trucks, motorcycle.

  • Important Notice – baggage and food allowance

  • Poster in Kelowna

Hastings Park

  • Photos of the women’s dormitory, the livestock barn, and the men’s, the forum. Hastings Park was the clearing station from where they were shipped out to internment camps in the interior of BC.

  • Photo of mattresses being stuffed with straw.

First Person Accounts

  • A Child in Prison Camp, childhood recollections by Shizuye Takashima, pp. 5 –7,

  • “What Do I Remember of the Evacuation”, poem by Joy Kogawa

  • Harry Yonekura about the seizure of fishing vessels belonging to Japanese Canadians; the town of Steveston in 1941/42; and his arrest and imprisonment in Angler, a Prisoner of war camp for not having the proper papers.

  • Mits Sumiya, a student at the University of British Columbia in 1941, and his arrest and imprisonment in Angler for refusing to be evacuated.

  • Photo of 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.

Repatriation

  • Notice - March 12, 1945 – 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 C19452 alerting him to the large number of letters being received protesting the deportation policy. On Jan. 24, 1947 deportation orders are cancelled but already 4,000 Japanese Canadians had been “repatriated”.

  • Newspaper article, “This Jap Who Won B.C. Scholarship”

Redress

  • Acknowledgment – government document signed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and sent to all Japanese Canadians who qualified for redress.

  • Photos of Ottawa Rally

Teaching the Activity:

  • Remind students of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (from an earlier lesson).

  • Tell them that the Charter is designed to protect all of the citizens of Canada, but that it was not adopted by Canada until 1981. Japanese Canadians were not protected by the Charter then, but would be today if this were to happen again.

  • Students fill in the chart: “Treatment of Japanese Canadians”

  • Students use the documents provided as their evidence. (They could also use the video: Minoru, if it is available).

  • Have students go through the Charter and find which Rights Japanese Canadians were not allowed during World War II. Students should give examples that are as specific as possible.

Extensions-Notes:

  • Given the amount of documentation that students must go through, in the interest of efficiency, it is recommended that students “jigsaw”.

    • Each student or team becomes responsible for one area or one document. They fill in their part and share it with the rest of the group. Once all groups have shared they should be able to complete the entire chart as a group. This way, students do not get overwhelmed by all of the documentation and are only responsible for one section.

  • As an extension, students could write about other (human) rights that were violated, (e.g. education, health care, etc.).

  • *Note to teachers: The Charter may have protected Japanese Canadian, however there is a “Notwithstanding Clause” (Section 33 of the War Measures Act) that allows the government to withhold certain rights of citizens in times of war. Teachers may include this clause in their lessons, but it is probably beyond the comprehension of students at this age level, and it could cause unnecessary fear and confusion if introduced. In 1988, the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act. The Emergencies Act does not allow discriminatory emergency actions and includes compensation for victims of government actions.

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Registration Cards



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Everyone of Japanese ancestry over 16 years of age


must be fingerprinted and photographed and
carry an identity card to be shown on demand.

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Order In Council Notice:



NOTICE

TO ALL PERSONS OF
JAPANESE RACIAL ORIGIN


Having reference to the Protected Area of British Columbia as described in an Extra of the Canada Gazette, No. 174 dated Ottawa, Monday, February 2, 1942:

  1. EVERY PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE, WHILE WITHIN THE PROTECTED AREA AFORESAID, SHALL HEREAFTER BE AT HIS USUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE EACH DAY BEFORE SUNSET AND SHALL REMAIN THEREIN UNTIL SUNRISE ON THE FOLLOWING DAY, AND NO SUCH PERSON SHALL GO OUT OF HIS USUAL PLACE OF RESIDENCE AFORESAID UPON THE STREETS OR OTHERWISE DURING THE HOURS BETWEEN SUNSET AND SUNRISE;
     

  2. NO PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE SHALL HAVE IN IS POSSESSION OR USE IN SUCH PROTECTED AREA ANY MOTOR VEHICLE, CAMERA, RADIO TRANSMITTER, RADIO RECEIVING SET, FIREARM, AMMUNITION OR EXPLOSIVE;
     

  3. IT SHALL BE THE DUTY OF EVERY PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE HAVING IN HIS POSSESSION OR UPON HIS PREMISES ANY ARTICLE MENTIONED IN THE NEXT PRECEDING PARAGRAPH, FORTHWITH TO CAUSE SUCH ARTICLE TO BE DELIVERED UP TO ANY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE RESIDING IN OR NEAR THE LOCALITY WHERE ANY SUCH ARTICLE IS HAD IN POSSESSION, OR TO AN OFFICER OR CONSTABLE OF THE POLICE FORCE OF THE PROVINCE OR CITY IN OR NEAR SUCH LOCALITY OR TO AN OFFICER OR CONSTABLE OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE.
     

  4. ANY JUSTICE OF THE PEACE OR OFFICER OR CONSTABLE RECEIVING ANY ARTICLE MENTIONED IN PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS ORDER SHALL GIVE TO THE PERSON DELIVERING THE SAME A RECEIPT THEREFOR AND SHALL REPORT THE FACT TO THE COMMISSIONER OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE, AND SHALL RETAIN OR OTHERWISE DISPOSE OF ANY SUCH ARTICLE AS DIRECTED BY THE SAID COMMISSION.
     

  5. ANY PEACE OFFICER OR ANY OFFICER OR CONSTABLE OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE HAVING POWER TO ACT AS SUCH PEACE OFFICER OR OFFICER OR CONSTABLE IN THE SAID PROTECTED AREA, IS AUTHORIZED TO SEARCH WITHOUT WARRANT THE PREMISES OR ANY PLACE OCCUPIED OR BELIEVED TO BE OCCUPIED BY ANY PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE REASONABLY SUSPECTED OF HAVING IN HIS POSSESSION OR UPON HIS PREMISES ANY ARTICLE MENTIONED IN PARAGRAPH 2 OF THIS ORDER, AND TO SEIZE ANY SUCH ARTICLE FOUND ON SUCH PREMISES;
     

  6. EVERY PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE SHALL LEAVE THE PROTECTED AREA AFORESAID FORTHWITH;
     

  7. NO PERSON OF THE JAPANESE RACE SHALL LEAVE THE PROTECTED AREA EXCEPT UNDER PERMIT ISSUED BY THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE;
     

  8. IN THIS ORDER, "PERSONS OF THE JAPANESE RACE" MEANS, AS WELL AS ANY PERSON WHOLLY OF THE JAPANESE RACE, A PERSON NOT WHOLLY OF THE JAPANESE RACE IF HIS FATHER OR MOTHER IS OF THE JAPANESE RACE AND IF THE COMMISSIONER OF THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE BY NOTICE IN WRITING HAS REQUIRED OR REQUIRES HIM TO REGISTER PURSUANT TO ORDER-IN-COUNCIL P.C. 9760 OF DECEMBER 16th, 1941.

DATED AT OTTAWA THIS 26th DAY OF FEBRUARY, 1942.

Louis S. St. Laurent
Minister of Justice


To Be Posted in a Conspicuous Place

- End of Order In Council Notice -

Note: curfew is imposed from sunset to sunrise; confiscation of motor vehicles, cameras, radios, ammunitions or explosives is ordered; the RCMP is authorized to search without a warrant; and every person of the Japanese race must leave the "protected" zone, regardless of place of birth.

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warning in the New Canadian May, 9, 1942:


Carry Papers People Warned


All person of Japanese origin are strongly adivsed to carry their papers with them at all times, including "orders to report" issued by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the B.C. Security Commission warned again today. If stopped by the Police, persons without papers may be held for enquiry and disposition. A penalty is provided for all failure to carry registration cards...and travel permits.

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Newspaper photos:

“They Walked Home”



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handing over vehicles

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impounded vehicles

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After having his car impounded, this man walks home.

Confiscation of cars, trucks, motorcycles.











Important Notice

BC Security Commission Notice:



Vancouver, B.C.
May 19, 1942.


IMPORTANT NOTICE

(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:



  • Each adult will be allowed 150 pounds and each child will be allowed 75 pounds of Baggage, consisting of personal effects, including kitchen utensils, blankets, clothing and mattresses. These items will be carried in the baggage car of the same train FREE.

  • Crated pedal sewing machine (one per family) the Baggage car of the same train FREE.

  • 30 pounds of hand baggage per person and food for at least 3 days, to be taken in the passenger car with you. The Commission will allow $1.00 per person to those going to the Interior Housing Towns for the purchase of this food.

SUGAR BEET PROJECTS:

  • Same as above. Except that owing to the greater distance to Alberta and Manitoba $2.00 per person will be allowed, for food.

WORK CAMP PROJECTS:

  • 100 pounds of Baggage FREE (Baggage car of same train).

  • 30 pounds of hand baggage and blankets FREE (in the passenger car with you).

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 –



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Sign in Kelowna



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Hastings Park:



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the women’s dormitory, the livestock barn

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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.



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Hastings Park:



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mattresses being stuffed with straw.



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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

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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

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Angler, POW camp – Funeral of an inmate.



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All prisoners wore a uniform with a red circle on their back so that they are easily spotted.



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Notice - March 12, 1945

Government Notice:

DEPARTMENT OF LABOUR


CANADA

NOTICE

To All Persons of Japanese Racial Origin
Now Resident in British Columbia


  1. Japanese Nationals and others of Japanese racial origin who will be returning to Japan, have been informed by notice issued on the authority of the Honourable Minister of Labour, that provision has been made for their return and for the filling of an application for such return. Conditions in regard to property and transportation have been made public.

  2. Japanese Canadians who want to remain in Canada should now re-establish themselves Fast of the Rockies as the best evidence of their intentions to co-operate with the Government policy of dispersal.

  3. Failure to accept employment east of the Rockies may be regarded at a later date as lack of co-operation with the Canadian Government in carrying out its policy of dispersal.

  4. Several thousand Japanese have already re-established themselves satisfactorily east of the Rockies.

  5. Those who do not take advantage of present opportunities for employment and settlement outside British Columbia at this time, while employment opportunities are favourable, will find conditions of employment and settlement considerably more difficult at a later date and may seriously prejudice their own future by delay.

  6. To assist those who want to re-establish themselves in Canada, the Japanese Divison Placement Offices and the Employment and Selective Service Offices, with the assistance of local Advisory Committees, are making special efforts this Spring to open up suitable employment opportunities across Canada in various lines of endeavour, and in areas where prospects of suitable employment are best.

  7. The Department will also provide free transportation to Eastern Canada for members of a family and their effects, a maintenance allowance to be used while in transit, and a placement allowance based in amount on the size of the family.

T.B. PICKERSGILL,
Commissioner of Japanese Placement

Vancouver, B.C.


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.

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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
(R.G. Robertson – Assistant to the Prime Minister)

“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)

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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
know how he would like living in Japan, for he has never seen Japan. If Yano is like most Canadians of Japanese ancestry, he probably loves the land of his birth, wants to be allowed to be a good Canadian, take his part in Canadian life.

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.

J.K. NESBITT

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

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:



  1. acknowledge that the treatment of Japanese Canadians during and after World War 11 was unjust and violated principles of human rights as they are understood today;

  2. pledge to ensure, to the full extent that its powers allow, that such events will not happen again; and

  3. recognize, with great respect, the fortitude and determination of Japanese Canadians who, despite great stress and hardship, retain their commitment and loyalty to Canada and contribute so richly to the development of the Canadian nation.

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.



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Ottawa Rally



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A Child in Prison Camp, Shizuye Takashima, Tundra, Toronto, 1971, pages 5, 6, 7

Vancouver British Columbia
March 1942

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


train.

At the train station

An empty bottle is tossed in the air,
I stand away, hold my mother’s hand.
Angry, dark curses, a scream. A train window is broken.

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.

Summer 1942

From March to September, 1942, my mother, my sister Yuki
and I are alone in Vancouver. David, our brother, is taken away,
for he is over eighteen and in good health. It’s hard for me to
understand. Our David, who is so gentle, considered an enemy of
his own country. I wondered what he thought as his time
came to leave us. He spoke very little, but I do remember him
saying, “In a way it’s better we leave. I am fired from my job.
The white people stare at me. The way things are, we’d starve
To death!”

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.

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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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