UBC Remembers the Japanese Canadian Students of 1942
special to www.gunghaggis.com – By Allan Cho
On one sunny day in May 22, 2008 — Mary Kitagawa wrote to President and Vice Chancellor Stephen Toope inquiring about the possibility of UBC honouring its Japanese Canadian students who were taken out of university and put into internment camps. In 1942, William Lyon McKenzie King’s government followed the American lead and removed 22,000 innocent Canadians of Japanese descent from the coast to prison work camps by separating the men from their young families – the War Measures Act, it was called. The 76 UBC students were not exempted from this mass removal.
Mary Kitagawa’s 2008 letter was passed on to the Chair of the UBC Senate Tributes Committee. Mary’s long and arduous cause for justice took four years and numerous campaigns to the media including the Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association Bulletin, Nikkei Voice, and the Vancouver Sun. On October 5, 2011, UBC promised Mary that it would honour and recognize the former 76 UBC students, educate future UBC students about this dark episode in the form of an Asian Canadian Studies program; and also to have UBC Library preserve and bring to life the historical record.
On May 31, 2012, appropriately on the final day of Asian Heritage Month, these 76 students (some of them family representatives for those who passed away) were honoured at the Spring Convocation at the beautiful Chan Centre. The classy evening tribute included a speech by Arthur Miki, an excerpt of a play “Shadow Catch” by Michael Mori, and “Songs from the 40’s” by Dal Richards which brought the audience back to the eve of war time in Canada.
There was not a dry eye in the house as 92 year old Canadian music legend Harry Aoki walked across the stage to accept the degree on behalf of his brother, Ted. At times, President Stephen Toope’s voice cracked at times, as he tried to hold back emotions of the evening’s procession. Although many of the students of 1942 had passed on, their descendants and families did them proud by continuing and realizing their journey in Canada.
Here are 3 links to some good links
30 May 2012 – UBC is bestowing degrees on 76 Japanese Canadian students who were forced off the campus after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbour.
30 May 2012 – Today, 76 Japanese–Canadian students whose education at UBC was halted when they were exiled are being granted honorary degrees from …