Japanese Canadian Concentration Camps

Japanese Canadian Concentration Camps Postwar Deportation Attempts Resettling in Chatham Father's Sacrifice Joining the Civil Rights Movement Chauffeuring the SNCC Leadership Navigating the movement as an Asian Photographing the movement Re-examining Identity Defining "Nikkei"

Transcripts available in the following languages:

I appeared on the earth just before the bombs went off in Pearl Harbor. That, of course, led to the outbreak of the Pacific War. I was just a little baby in my mother's arms and was declared an enemy alien by my government, the government of Canada. So my mother had to carry me as a result, in her arms, to the cattle stalls of Hastings Park, which was the assembly point for the community of some 22,000 Japanese Canadians that had been living up and down the coast. So this community was dispossessed and then placed in interment camps throughout the interior of BC. You had this situation where this peaceful community living their lives in the temperate climate of the West Coast was suddenly thrust into the harsh environment of the interior.

There's a picture of Tashme, which my family was at. There's rows of shacks which were built of green wood, like unseasoned wood. And there's these winter scenes where they're buried under snow and there's huge icicles happening. And the people, two families to a little shack, were freezing their butts off. The contrast to that, to that almost idyllic living that the West Coast gives you in Canada is rather stark. And then you have people who wandered over to the sugar beet farms in Southern Alberta. And there was a huge labor shortage because the usual laborers had gone to war. The white laborers.

So there's descriptions of it. Joy writes of this very powerfully, and I've done interviews of people, and they say, “Wow, geez. It was just like slavery days, that we arrived at the station and we'd lined up as a family, and then the white owners would come by and check us out. And they would only take the families that were young and healthy and had big, strong sons. And the families that had aging grandparents and little kids were kind of left aside.” So it was almost like, let's check your teeth and everything. It's a startling image.

Date: February 9, 2011
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Patricia Wakida, John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

alberta camps. Canada hastings park sugar beet farms tashme

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