Canada’s Tainted History: Inhumane Living Conditions for the Japanese

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The Japanese living in Canada during World War II (WWII) faced one of the harshest and inhumane living conditions in Canadian history. One unidentified woman remembers, “it was terrible, unbelievable. They kept us in the stalls where they put the cattle and horses.” Before WWII, the Japanese were targeted for their culture. An example is the Anti-Asiatic League that was created to limit the number of Japanese men that could immigrate to Canada. Canadians did not want the potential competitors in farming and fishing. 22,000 Japanese Canadians were interned during WWII, even though 14,000 had been Canadian born citizens. This was because the Japanese had bombed Canada’s ally, the United States. With this in mind, the Canadians viewed the Japanese as the enemy. This made the innocent Japanese Canadians become the victims of unfair suspicion and they began to fall through the cracks of Canada’s developing society and government. Internment camps were created to forcibly keep the “dangerous” Japanese from the seemingly “innocent and civilized” Canadian citizens.

Rewind the clock about 70 years back, and you will find it started with a natural suspicion. The Canadians were prejudiced and assumed the Japanese were up to no good, due to their tarnished image because of the Pearl Harbor bombing from the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) against the US. The Canadian government assumed the Japanese culture, as a whole, was conspiring against Canada. The IJN had bombed Pearl Harbor… Who’s to say the Japanese Canadians would not attack Canada? Even before these allegations, the Japanese were no strangers to xenophobia and racism. The suspicions against the Japanese started small, and included things like accusing the Japanese for charting for the ...

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...k home, the difficult life they lived was never forgotten.

Even today, the Japanese people have not forgotten the hardships they faced. Many still remember the harsh racism they faced throughout their years of living in Canada. They tried to live in harmony with the others, but not everybody was welcoming. After WWII started, It was hard for them to go back to the life they lived after what they had was sold. Everything changed for the Japanese. It was almost impossible to rebuild families, homes, and businesses. Conditions at the camp were no better, either. The internment of over twenty thousand Japanese people, in my opinion, was an unfortunate event that left many without a home and violated human rights. However, a benefit is that it helped shape the democratic Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Canadian government is now learning from it’s mistakes.

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