Before WW II, Japanese people had long suffered the sting of racism in Canada. Ever since the first Japanese person, a man named Manzo Nagano, stepped ashore in 1877 at New Westminster, white settlers in British Columbia tried to exclude people whom they considered to be “undesirables.” In so doing, they passed laws to keep Japanese people from working in the mines, to prevent them from voting and to prohibit them from working on provincially funded projects.

On the heels of Japan’s attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, Canadian fears of a Japanese invasion were sparked and their flames fanned by a sensationalist press. Distrust of Japanese Canadians spread along the Pacific Coast. The RCMP moved quickly to arrest suspected Japanese operatives, while the Royal Canadian Navy began to impound 1,200 Japanese-owned fishing boats. On the recommendation of the RCMP and in order to avoid racist backlash, Japanese newspapers and schools were voluntarily shut down.

Beginning in early 1942, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed the vast majority of over 22,000 people of Japanese descent living in British Columbia. Most were interned in ghost town camps in the West Kootenays and others as farm workers in Southern Alberta and Manitoba etc. for the rest of the Second World War. During this time, their homes and businesses were sold by the government in order to pay for their detention. The speaker will reflect on the issues leading up to, as well as the results, of this dark chapter in Canadian history.

Speaker: George Takashima

Dr. George Takashima, B.A., M.Ed., D.D. is a retired educator, hospital chaplain, and pastor (United Church of Canada). He spent 34 years in public education as classroom teacher, elementary & high school principal, Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent of Schools, Language Consultant, in the provinces of ON, MB, and SK. He also served as a Field Services officer, Manitoba Department of Education.

George has been sharing the story of the Japanese Canadians and their wartime and post-war experiences in Canada. To this end he has been conducting bus tours of the internment camp ghost towns in the West Kootenays.

Moderator: Michelle Day

Date: Thursday, January 26, Time: Noon - 1:30 PM (30 minutes each for presentation, lunch and Q & A) Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr. S
Cost: $12.00 (includes lunch) or $2.00 (includes coffee/tea)

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