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The fragile democracy: David Suzuki’s wartime experience

The Story


At first, it seemed like a big adventure; a long train ride out of the city into the natural beauty of Slocan. Scientist David Suzuki, who was six at the time of the internment, recalls in this clip the duality of the internment experience. He says it was an "enchanted" time when he would spend his days gathering wildflowers, fishing and camping. But, he describes the communal living arrangements as filthy and crowded, his bed crawling with bed bugs.  Suzuki also describes his bitterness as his family moved east to Southern Ontario. Constantly the victim of prejudice, he wanted to disassociate himself with all things Japanese and assume a white skin to be like everyone else. It was, he describes, a difficult period of self-hate. Because of this, however, Suzuki explains how he came to realize and respect the fragility of democracy.

Medium: Radio
Program: Judy
Broadcast Date: Nov. 18, 1975
Guest: David Suzuki
Interviewer: Judy LaMarsh
Duration: 21:08

Did You know?


• "On Dec. 7, 1941, an event took place that had nothing to do with me or my family and yet which had devastating consequences for all of us - Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack. With that event began one of the shoddiest chapters in the tortuous history of democracy in North America." - David Suzuki, Metamorphosis: Stages in a Life.

• On Jan. 19, 1943, a federal cabinet order-in-council allowed the Department of the Custodian of Enemy Alien Property to dispose of Japanese Canadian property without acquiring the owners' consent.

• In April 1945, the government encouraged the Japanese Canadians to move east of the Rockies or back to Japan.


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Relocation to Redress: The Internment of the Japanese Canadians more