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1988: Government apologizes to Japanese Canadians

As Canadian soldiers were fighting overseas in the name of democracy, at home the federal government was staging the largest mass exodus in Canadian history. During the Second World War, roughly 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly evacuated from the west coast and resettled in other parts of the country. Their struggle continued after the war as they fought for an apology and redress for their loss. CBC Television and Radio covered the crucial issues in their journey from relocation to redress.

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Today, after 40 years, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologizes to Japanese Canadian survivors and their families. During the Second World War, 22,000 Japanese Canadians were uprooted from their homes, separated from their families and sent away to camps. Not one was ever charged with an act of disloyalty. Art Miki, of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, calls the apology and $300 million compensation package "a settlement that heals."

• The $300 million compensation package included $21,000 for each of the 13,000 survivors, $12 million for a Japanese community fund, and $24 million to create a Canadian race relations foundation, to ensure such discrimination never happens again.
• "We cannot change the past. But we must, as a nation, have the courage to face up to these historical facts." The Right Honourable Brian Mulroney (1988)

• The federal government confiscated and sold their property. Unlike prisoners of war, who are protected by the Geneva Convention, Japanese Canadians had to pay for their own internment. Their movements were restricted and their mail censored.
• Men were separated from their families and forced into work crews building roads, railroads, and sugar beet farms. The women, children and older people were sent inland to internment camps in northern British Columbia.

• After the war ended in 1945, Japanese Canadians were offered a choice: to either be deported to Japan, a defeated country unknown to most, or to re-settle in eastern Canada.
• In 1949, four years after the war was over, Japanese Canadians were finally given back full citizenship rights, including the right to vote and the right to return to the west coast.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Sept. 22, 1988
Guests: Charles Kadota, Sisko Miki, Masui Tagashira, Tony Tamayose
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporters: Wendy Mesley, Karen Webb
Duration: 4:29

Last updated: September 16, 2013

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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