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A historical essay of the role of the Japanese Canadians in the Second World War.

Japanese Canadians during World War II During the World War II, there was more than 6 millions of Jews killed by Nazi, most of them killed in the concentration camp A place where selected groups of people confined, usually for political reasons. Concentration camps are also known by various other names such as corrective labor camps, relocation centers, reception camp. Most people think this kind of bloody action should never happen in Canada. Unfortunately, our kind, lovely, peace-keeper government also made the same mistake. They didn’t sent Germans to the concentration camp, they sent Japanese Canadians to the Relocation Camp. Why did Canadian government sent all the innocent Japanese-Canadians to the relocation camp? This kind of action is totally unfair, and why Japanese Canadians had to pay the responsibilities for the war? According to official Japanese passport records, 181 Japanese who left for Canada in 1891 were the first Japanese immigrants to Canada. Over years, there are more Japanese immigrates to BC coast. They have a new life and loyal to the Canada. In the first days after Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, Ottawa worried about protecting loyal residents of Japanese racial origin from the mod violence and demonstrations they had long feared. The RCMP and provincial police immediately followed prearranged plans and began interning approximately forty Japanese nationals whom they suspected of having subversive intentions. All the Japanese Canadians had special identification that is different then general Canadians. The Royal Canadian Navy began rounding up the fishing boats operated by Japanese Canadians. On 9 January 1942, as the Ottawa conference recommended removing ‘all male Japanese and other enemy aliens between the ages of 16 and 50’ from coastal areas to reduce the likelihood of sabotage. Tragedy began. Most of Japanese Canadians forced the leave coast line. In a month, thousands of Japanese Canadians disappeared from the Richmond, Steveston area, where the Japan Town was at that time. Their properties were took over by government. All the evacuation was taken fully responsible by an organization named the British Columbia Security Commission (B.C.S.C.) The first evacuees entered Hasting park on March, 1942. In six months, total about eight thousands Japanese moved in. Life in the park was unhuman and unpleasant. People are not even allow to live with their families in the camp. The dorm separated in to three parts: man, woman and children. Share the washroom with other people. No Japanese food served, no freedom to talk and no privacy! Some evacuees described this place is hell. (Roy,p110) Later, Japanese Canadian had sent out of Hasting Park in groups. Most of the men were sent to road camps in the Interior. The government provides jobs for them. Although they didn ‘t like the jobs, but better than nothing. And the life qualities is better than the life in the Hasting Park. The old mining and lumbering towns were the main settlements for the evacuees. Kaslo, Slocan, Tashme and Greenwood were transformed from the ghost town in to crowded city. The living condition is better than the camp in the Hasting Park, but still hard to compare to the original homes. But the prejudices from local residents, were another trouble that they have to face. Whites did not allow Japanese families live in their district, and business refuse to hire evacuees. Japanese Canadian students even had hardtime to stay in school. Years after Japanese Canadians release from the relocation camps, although government had apologized for their mistake, but the wound is hard to recover. Over years, Japanese Canadian still influence by the relocation camp. Older generation of Japanese Canadians still afraid to talk about it with younger generation. This kind of action is totally unfair to Japanese Canadians. Will this ever happen again to any other people in Canada? And who will be the next victim? I wish this kind of unhuman action will never ever happen again.

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Kylie Garcia

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