20 December 2017
During the Second World War, racism was at an all-time high with different groups of people being discriminated all around the world. Among those groups, the Japanese people stood out due to the events that took place during the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. During the attack, the Japanese Navy Air Service attacked the Pearl Harbor military base in Oahu, Hawaii. The attack on the American troops started at 7:56 am and lasted for 2 hours until 9:45am, That attack sparked Canadian mistrust and judgement in Japanese-Canadians and lead to internment in Canada. The treatment of the Japanese-Canadian citizens was poor and unfairC1 .C2
During the Japanese Internment, many Japanese-Canadian citizens were put into Internment camps, these camps were overpopulated, the living conditions were poor and there was no electricity or running water in the camps. The detained Japanese-Canadian citizens were sent to ghost towns in Slocan, New Denver, Kaslo, Greenwood and Sandon, another option for camps was to work on a sugar beet farm in Alberta and ManitobaC3 . The few citizens that resisted the interment were sent to Prisoner of War camps or go to Camp 101 in Angler, Ontario. The camps made for the Japanese-Canadians were brutal, the Japanese-Canadians didn’t benefit from the camps due to poor food and the cold Northern Canadian winter. C4 Unlike the camps in the United States, the Canadian Internment camps were not surrounded with barbed wire fences There was no running water or electricity in any of the camps resulting in poor conditions for the people living in the camps.
The Japanese-Canadian citizens were feared all throughout the nation. Over 21,000 (90%) of the Japanese-Canadian C5 people were taken, the majority were born in Canada (citation needed). The Canadian citizens feared and judged the Japanese-Canadians so much that they sent them to abandoned cities and sent to work on sugar beet farms. C6 If the Japanese-Canadians refused to show upC7 for transportation to these cities or farms they were labeled as troublemakers and sent to a POW camp in Ontario (citation needed). Immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack, Canadian officials in British Columbia took all boats from the Japanese-Citizens (1800 total boats seized). Canadian officials also shut down all Japanese newspapers and schools, all cameras and radios were taken, and a curfew was set in place. Near late summer of 1942, all Japanese-Canadians were removed from Canada’s west coast, about 2,150 able-bodied men were sent to work on road labor camps (citation). Another 3,500 signed a contract to work on sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba. After the Pearl Harbor attack white farmers, merchants and political leaders accused Japanese-Canadians of being spies and saboteurs for Tokyo and called for action to protect Canada. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s advisor made widespread calls for arbitrary action: “We are under extraordinary pressure from our readers to advocate a pogrom of Japs.”C8 To ensure that the Government could pay for the internment and discourage the Japanese-Canadian Citizens to return to the West Coast they took their farm property and personal possessions. After the war ended Prime minister Mackenzie King offered the Japanese-Canadians 2 choices, move to Japan or disperse to the provinces east of the Rocky’s. Japanese-Canadians were not completely free until 1948 when they were given the right to vote. C9
The Japanese-Canadians citizens lost land and many possessions.C10 According to Judy Hanazawa, the federal government sold her family’s fishing boats and homes while her parents were in the internment camps during the Second World War, the hardest hitting part was seeing the total for the compensation cheque for $14.68. C11 The total items seized from the Hanazawa’s family items were:C12 Singer sewing machine, record player, dresser and other household items with a total estimated value of $224.95, also listed was a Japanese doll worth $10. The government sold land, boats and other family possessions. The Japanese-Canadian fisherman had their boats confiscated and were required to turn in their boats to the Royal Canadian Navy to be sold off to the authorities. C13 To drive and keep the Japanese-Canadians out of the West coast and fund the internment the government sold the Japanese-Canadian farms land, fisherman’s boats and all the possessions, sold them and gave the families a small portion of their money back.C14
Japanese-Canadians citizens became enemy aliens in their own country. C15 In British Columbia, the federal government seized all businesses and homes in the Powell Street area. B.C. MP Ian Mackenzie, an advocate of the displacement program, had declared in September 1944: “Let our slogan be for British Columbia: No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.” C16 The Government wanted to rid BC of Japanese-Canadians, they send all able-bodied men to help build highways in northern British Columbia, others were sent to ghost towns, sugar beet farms, or prisoner of war camps.C17
The Japanese Interment was a national disgrace and a sad time for CanadaC18 , as Canadian citizens were discriminated for a decision that was made by a C19 Japanese politicians in Japan that they do not live in, Japanese-Canadian citizens were put into internment camps where the situations were overpopulated, and the living conditions were poor. The Japanese citizens were feared in Canada by all people C20 because of what the Japanese people from Japan did. The Japanese citizens had their possessions, farms, and properties taken and sold to fund the war and the internment, Japanese people were also looked and treated as enemy aliens even though they were born, raised or migrated to Canada and became feared and hated in their own homes. The interment might be over and we may now live in peace with the Japanese-Canadians we can not take back what happened, it will always be a sad part of Canadian history.C21 s.