NAJC Message, December 2022

80th Anniversary of Internment 

by Lorene Oikawa, Past President NAJC

Throughout 2022, the National Association of Japanese Canadians shared some of the facts and stories from 1942. We wrap up the 80th anniversary series, but our storytelling and work will continue. Keep up to date by checking out our website and signing up for e-news

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a safe, healthy, happy 2023.

Exile and restrictions in place at end of 1942

The story of the injustice against Japanese Canadians in 1942 is Canadian history. 80 years ago, it was the start of the forcible uprooting, dispossession, incarceration, and exile of 22,000 Japanese Canadians from the west coast of British Columbia. Most of the Japanese Canadians were born in Canada and multi-generational families. 

By the end of 1942, about 12,029 Japanese Canadians are in the interior BC internment/incarceration camps, 945 men are in enforced labour camps, 3,991 are sent to the Prairies to work as labor on sugar beet farms, 1,161 are in what government called self-supporting sites, 1,359 are given special work permits, 699 are imprisoned in prisoner of war camps in Ontario, 42 are exiled to Japan, 111 are held in Vancouver, about 2,000 are registered and living outside of the “protected area” and restricted in their possessions and their activities, and 105 are in the hospital section of Hastings Park and will stay there until 1943. 

The internment/incarceration would not be lifted until 1949, four years after the end of the Second World War. 

The action against Japanese Canadians (babies to seniors) was a racist act not for national security. Senior representatives of both the Canadian military and the RCMP said that Japanese Canadians did not pose any threat to the security of the country. None of the 22,000 was ever charged with any espionage. 

The racism is not limited to 1942. Racism was prevalent against Indigenous peoples and racialized settlers since first contact. It hasn’t stopped. 

Remember the stories so that the injustice is never repeated with any other group of people.  

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