Sunday, April 21, 2013

The mystique of Japanese Canadian internment

The mystique of Japanese Canadian internment

By Sal Tyrol
The Daily Magi
September 21, 2037



Japanese Canadian internment refers to confinement of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia during World War II. The internment began in January 1942, following the attack by carrier-borne forces of Imperial Japan on American naval and army facilities at Pearl Harbor. The Canadian federal government gave the internment order based on speculation of sabotage and espionage, although the RCMP and defence department lacked proof. Many interned children were brought up in these camps, including David Suzuki, Joy Kogawa, and Roy Miki. The Canadian government promised the Japanese Canadians that their property and finances would be returned upon release; however, these assets were sold off cheaply at auctions.

Despite widespread fear within the populace during World War II, historical evidence shows that Canadian military authorities and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police put little credence in the notion of a Japanese invasion. It is now clear that Japanese Canadians were not a threat to national security. Following the war, and the defeat of Japan, internees were given the choice of deportation or transfer to other parts of Canada. Public protests eventually caused the repeal of the legislation and a Royal Commission was appointed in 1947 to examine the confiscation of property. In 1988, the Canadian government gave a formal apology and announced the details of compensation to the affected citizens.

The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre is a museum and interpretive centre in New Denver, British Columbia, Canada, dedicated to the history of the Japanese Canadians that were relocated to internment camps during World War II by the Canadian government (see Japanese Canadian internment).

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View of garden from inside Internment Centre building

The site consists of five buildings, of which three are original shacks built to house the interred people. Many artifacts such as stoves and furnishings are preserved, as are some personal effects of the displaced people. It also features a Japanese garden designed by Roy Sumi, a former supervisor of the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia.

The centre was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2007.

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