Japanese Canadians

Essay by stewie23High School, 11th gradeA, November 2004

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The Japanese people of Canada have suffered much agony throughout World War II. Innocent people, most of them Canadian citizens, were forcibly uprooted and taken form their homes and sent to camps or labour jobs across the country. They lost their possessions and their livelihoods. All of this was done seemingly to preserve national security, which I believe was never a risk. There were no foundations for the fears that led to their internment. These so-called "fears" were actually based on feelings of racism by the Canadian government toward these people at the time. Although the relocation of Japanese Canadians was justified as a security measure, I do not agree with this explanation.

Today we can look back at the history of this special society, who makes our cultural-mosaic even more diversified, and trace the reasons that brought these people to that dreadful situation during the Second World War.

This history goes back as early as the first man who came to Canada. Japanese Canadian history may be divided into two periods, with the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 7th, 1941 as the dividing line. The first period is above all, a history of racial minority struggling to survive in a hostile land.

It was not until 1884 that the Japanese government permitted its people to emigrate to North America. A few years before, in 1877, the first Japanese man somehow came to Canada from the United States. His name was Manzo Nagano. Nagano went to work fishing for Salmon on the Fraser River. He lived on the docks of Vancouver - it was then called Gastown. Mount Nagano in BC is named after him.

By 1890 the great Japanese immigration to BC had began. Before the end of the nineteenth century, Canadian passenger ships regularly piled...