Redress efforts seek not only recognition of historic injustices against Japanese Canadians, but also future actions to benefit B.C. society as a whole.
Since the early 1900’s, for over 60 years, racist legislation and discrimination in BC culminated in the province’s critical role in the forced removal, internment, confiscation of property, and forced exile of 22,000 Japanese Canadians during 1942 to 1949. Recent research shows the BC government and its officials were complicit directly and indirectly in the unjust actions leading to the devastation of the Japanese Canadian community.
The Government of British Columbia’s official Apology Motion to Japanese Canadians in 2012 was issued without prior community-wide participation. It did not formally assume responsibility for past injustices and was not followed by redress or legacy initiatives at the time, which many saw as a missed opportunity for meaningful follow-up and healing.
In June 2019, the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) will conduct a series of Japanese Canadian community consultation meetings across BC to provide community members a voice in offering recommendations for redress and legacy initiatives to the Government of British Columbia.
The consultations have identified new opportunities to make visible the history of injustice, support the sustainability of the Japanese Canadian community, and highlight the contributions of Japanese Canadians to creating a just and prosperous society for all. (from the NAJC newsletter)
The following five themes emerged from the community consultations, ranked in order of importance:
1. Enhance Public School Education in British Columbia. Japanese Canadian history should be embedded in the mandatory core public elementary and high school curricula and be available online.
2. Take Concrete Steps to Combat Racism and Discrimination. We encourage the BC Government to create an independent body to review and assess the BC Government’s existing anti-racism strategy in consultation with affected communities and service providers.
3. Raise Public Awareness through Memorialization. Funding should be provided to sustain the maintenance and operations of new and existing museums (especially the Nikkei National Museum), historic sites, and monuments, and to reclaim historic community spaces.
4. Create a Japanese Canadian Community Legacy Fund. Establish a fund administered by the Japanese Canadian community to support community development programs, activities, and needs such as: seniors’ care and housing, community wellness and healing programs, community gathering programs to rebuild fragile communities.
5. Deliver a Formal Apology Acknowledging the BC Government’s Role. We seek a formal acknowledgement of the wrongs committed by former BC Governments that led to the injustices faced by Japanese Canadians who suffered in mind, body, and spirit, and a sincere apology to those surviving Japanese Canadians directly affected by the injustices.
Following is link to an article published in the Vancouver Sun on December 29th. 2019.
More good reads on the subject:
Following is the links to the six part in-depth articles about the history of Japanese Canadians in BC written by John Price, Professor Emeritus (history) University of Victoria. The articles were published in Times Colonist during November and December 2019. John Price is the author of Orienting Canada: Race, Empire and the Transpacific and, recently, A Woman in Between: Searching for Dr. Victoria Chung.
Part 1: Our History: Righting a historical wrong for Japanese Canadians
Part 2: Our History: After Pearl Harbour, province lobbied for displacement of Japanese Canadians
Part 3: Our History: B.C. went out of its way to make life miserable for Japanese Canadians
Part 4: Our History: Young people paid high price for B.C.’s exile of Japanese Canadians
Part 5: Dispossession: How B.C. stole the lives of 22,000 Japanese Canadians
Part 6: The final straw: Japanese Canadians offered an impossible choice