While Canadian soldiers fought overseas in the name of democracy, the federal government was supporting the re-location of peaceful Japanese Canadians at home. During the Second World War, roughly 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly and unfairly 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.
While war being declared on Japan was a main reason for evacuating Japanese Canadians from the British Columbia (BC) coast, there were underlying reasons as to why the government took part in the re-location process. Unfortunately their actions only contributed to Canada's poor development of ethnic relations and immigration policies.
Using the exemplary case of the treatment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia from the 1900s onward, I will provide a historical and sociological analysis of the event to demonstrate Canada's poor history of ethnic relations and immigration. In the first part, I will focus on the historical analysis of the policies (particularly in BC) that greatly influenced the welfare of the Japanese Canadian population. The second part will be a sociological analysis of the experiences and effects on the Japanese Canadian population. The last part will be an examination into the present policies of the Canadian government, and of the Japanese Canadians’ healing process. The experience of the Japanese Canadians is remarkable and unique to Canadian history. Although this historical event has been buried in the past and is no longer the main subject of public attention, it can still provide us some clues for developing future policies, laws, and a better understanding of Canadian multiculturalism.
PART I: HISTORICAL ANALYSIS OF POLICIES
Economic conditions, immigration policies and regulations in the 1900s – 1920s Although Asia was not the Federal government’s target of Canadian immigration, many still aspired to migrate to western Canada for the same reasons as the Europeans: Canada was a land of opportunity, prosperity, and a chance to start a new and better life. Word of a better place where the natural resources were abundant, the climate was mild, and overpopulation was not a problem, spread across Japan thanks to technological developments like newspaper media. (). In 1905, the first major migration of Japanese to Canada occurred, where 11,522 migrants came within the years of 1904-1908 (412, Adachi). During those years the rush of Japanese (in addition to other Asians) immigrants raised concern over the issue of employment in the province. (Mention that you’ll focus on immigration in BC, and not other provinces because of the limitations over this paper). Many Japanese-Canadians continued their professions upon arriving to Canada, primarily in agriculture, fishing, lumber, and business, as did other European and Asian immigrants (Adachi,). But to already-settled European immigrants in BC, the employment of thousands 4397 w 2of Japanese-Canadians in the industries meant competition and a threat to their livelihood. Various organizations such as the Vancouver Trades and Labour Council of Canada, the Asiatic Exclusion League, and the Great War Veterans Association supported the “abolishment of Asian labour” (92, Roy), fearing “that Asians in British Columbia were rapidly raining supremacy in certain industries” (60, Roy). Generally, these organizations saw the Japanese-Canadians as a menace to the economy as many worked for lesser money, longer hours, and more efficiently than non-Asian employees (Roy 2003: 110). Furthermore, Japanese Canadians were seen to “[send] all of their profits”(Roy 2003: 60), to family members in Japan. But was employment the main reason for dislike towards Japanese? Although it was a major reason, another factor stood at the base for their dislike: race. Heavily influenced by the beliefs of British colonialism,...