Japanese Internment Camps

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Japanese Internment Camps

The Joy Kogawa house is a significant historical Canadian landmark located in Marpole Vancouver. It is in this house that one of Canada’s most acclaimed authors, Joy Kagawa, lived as a child. The house officially became a protected historical monument in 2006 after it was saved from demolition from a developer. Due to the rich historical significance to the Japanese-Canadian culture, an injunction was issued and gave The Land Conservancy time to source for funds to purchase the house. The house, and many others like it, are the reminders of the injustices that people of Japanese descent faced at the hands of their Canadian counterparts. At the break of the second world war, when Japanese forced invaded Pearl Harbor, the Canadians carried out took away the rights of their Japanese Canadian citizens. During the nine-year period from the start of the war, Canadians carried out systematic search and seizure of property and business owned by the Japanese. They then detained these people and put them in internment camps under the orders of the then Prime Minister William King. King’s government pushed for internment under the ruse that they were spies though new evidence suggests that they were an act of racism.

The Kogawa house is currently an information center and houses works from the Japanese Canadian culture and heritage. It is also an information center on the internment camps and the events leading up to them. There is a diversity of material that sheds light on the oppression these poor people went through. There are photos mounted on the walls with captions that describe the events that were captured. There are also a variety of literature on the injustices that the Japanese underwent under the War Act from a variety of authors including Joy Kogawa herself. Some of these authors were instrumental in the fight to protect the Kogawa house and make it a national historical landmark. The house also acts as a literary center and provides a space where writers can interact with each other and develop their skills while getting paid. This program offers residency opportunities for writers as a tribute to the house’s original inhabitant. Through the elaborate displays of photos, articles and even some personal letters between family members during that time, the house wants to promote healing for all the people of Canada. There are also a number of audio recording with the most popular one being the radio announcement of the Pearl Harbor invasion that kick started the anti-Japanese campaigns.

The house seeks to promote reconciliation between the native Canadians and their Japanese counterparts by demystifying the internment period. Through the various events and tours that it organizes, it aims to improve people’s understanding of the actions leading up to these events. With comprehensive information, people can engage in constructive dialog which is crucial in enhancing reconciliation. Constructive dialog enhances understanding and promotes tolerance and acceptance by first acknowledging the events that happened. This leads to an understanding and acceptance of their significance in the history of Canada as a nation. It also leads to a holistic review of the intricacies of the relationship between the native Canadians and their Japanese counterparts that led to the latter’s detention. Tensions had been running high between the two groups since the 1870s when the first Japanese people immigrated to Canada. These tensions were however mostly due to baseless suspicions and propaganda.

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