Led by Mayor Gregor Robertson, the city of Vancouver apologized to Japanese-Canadians on Tuesday for the motion to “remove all residents of Japanese racial origin” approved by the city council in 1942. Much like in the U.S. during the years of World War II, these Japanese were brought into internment in eastern British Columbia while their properties were seized. On Tuesday, the city vowed never to let their council chamber be used for any form of racial discrimination like what happened 71 years ago.
Vancouver wanted to express its remorse for the “complicity [and] its inaction and for failing to protect her residents of Japanese descent.” Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Canadian city brought all of its residents of Japanese descent into internment. “I only wish the council of 1942 had the depth of understanding and reconciliation as we do,” said Mayor Robertson. Other Asians thought to be Japanese were even captured. However, there has never been any apology made for the decision on February 16, 1942. “What sinks in here for me today are the lack of words in our realm for what happened.”
From the Pacific coast, more than 22,000 Japanese were taken by force. According to Councilor Geoff Meggs, what their city did to the Japanese-Canadians in 1942 was a form of ethnic-cleansing, albeit the absence of physical violence. He also doubts that the city has recovered from the past. The family of Councilor Kerry Jang was also close to suffering the same fate the Japanese had. His father was almost taken into internment had it not been for someone who recognized him to be Chinese.
Besides the apology, Vancouver plans to put memorial plaques at Hastings Park. The city is also considering renaming streets, which according to Robertson “do not reflect reality.” They may be renamed after the residents who used to live in the area.
[via Vancouver Sun]