Asian Heritage Month
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Pearls of Wickedness

By Anu Sahota

Last week's entry on Takao Tanabe included mention of his internment in B.C.'s Slocan Valley during World War Two. Tanabe's family and many of the province's 22,000 Japanese-Canadians were interned there in the years following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour. Long-standing resentment towards the Japanese, along with the fear that they represented a threat to Allied war efforts from within, gave way to flagrant racist hysteria. Ian McKenzie, a Federal Cabinet Minister from B.C., railed: "it is the government's plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: 'No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.'"

Japanese-Canadians across the country were fired and Japanese residents in B.C. were displaced to shanty towns in the province's interior. Their own homes would be auctioned off along with cars and all business properties, including fishing boats, by the Department of the Custodian of Enemy Alien Property. You can read more about this loathsome part of Asian Canadian history and its effect on a generation of Canadians here External Link

In 1944, CBC Radio's The World of Tomorrow spoke with John M. Ewing, psychology instructor at the B.C. Provincial Normal School about the Japanese Problem. For the record, while its name suggests electro-shock therapy and mind-control, the Normal School was a training institute that provided instruction on standard teaching practices - although after listening to Mr. Ewing you may prefer to believe the former.

suzuki
David Suzuki

Listen to the interview (runs (15:04)

Broadcaster, academic and environmentalist David Suzuki was also among the interned. In this CBC Radio interview from 1975 he describes life in an internment camp. The interviewer is former Pearson Cabinet member Judy LaMarsh. The program is This Country in the Morning.


listen to the interview (runs 21:08)

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