20th Anniversary of Japanese Canadian Redress celebrates with 3 day conference

Redress for the WW2 internment of Japanese Canadians is one of Canada's most significant actions to address Canada's past racist history.

This weekend there is a conference to acknowledge the 20th Anniversary of the Japanese Canadian Redress.  http://redressanniversary.najc.ca/redress

Highlights include panel discussions on related topics, plus music and performances by dancer Jay Hirabayashi, and poets/authors Roy Miki and Hiromi Goto.

Conference Schedule

Day 1: Friday, September 19

Host Venue: Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, Vancouver, B.C.

Theme: Reflecting the past in the present

Friday ScheduleView Friday's Schedule

Day 2: Saturday, September 20

Venue: Nikkei Place and Alan Emmott Centre, Burnaby

Theme: In the present, imagining the future

Saturday ScheduleView Saturday's Schedule

Day 2: Sunday, September 21

Venue: Nikkei Place and Alan Emmott Centre, Burnaby Sunday Schedule

View Sunday's Schedule

It was the 6 year old Canadian-born Generation Joy Kogawa that was put on a train in 1942 and sent with her 10 year old brother, Anglican priest father and mother, to the internment camps in the Kootenays.  This was done in the wake of Japan's bombing of the US naval base Pearl Harbour in Hawaii, and fears of a Japanese invasion of Canada's Pacific coast.  But no similar action was done against German ancestry descendants.   All Japanese-Canadians on the coast were sent to internment camps, and while there they suffered the indignity of having their houses and properties confiscated and auctioned off, supposedly to help pay for their internment.  The anti-Japanese racism extended years beyond WW2, as Canadian parliament enacted a dispersal policy, to restrict Japanese-Canadians from returning to the West Coast, sending them instead to work on beet farms across Canada, or to be “re-patriated” to Japan – even if they were born in Canada!

In 1988, Prime Minister Mulroney signed a redress settlement with Art Miki, and made an apology in Parliament.  This redress process also set in motion a redress movement for the Chinese Head Tax, when NDP MP Margaret Mitchell brought the issue to Parliament in 1984.  In 2006, Prime Minister Harper officially apologized for the Chinese Head Tax (initiated in 1885) and Chinese Exclusion Act (1923-1945), but failed to give a redress payment for all head tax certificates, whereas all Japanese-Canadians born up to 1947 were eligible for redress settlement.

I have been privileged to be involved in the struggle to save the childhood home of Joy Kogawa from demolition.  Kogawa's novel Obasan brought the Japanese-Canadian internment and struggle for redress to Canadians through literature.  NDP leader Ed Broadbent read a passage from Obasan in the House of Commons during the 1988 Parliamentary redress.

The internment of


On September 22, 1988, the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement was
signed by the President of the National Association of Japanese
Canadians (NAJC) and the Prime Minister of Canada. This document
acknowledged the injustice committed by the Canadian government
against Japanese Canadians during and after World War II, and pledged
that such events will not happen again. This was a major historic
event not only for Japanese Canadians, but to all minority groups as
well, in that it set precedence for other redress settlements in

September 22, 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the Japanese Canadian
Redress Settlement. To celebrate, the NAJC and its membership
organization, the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizen
Association (GVJCCA), will be hosting a national event in Vancouver,
British Columbia. The conference will focus on both the celebration of
the Redress Settlement and reflection on the future of our global
community. Some notable participants scheduled to attend are
inter-cultural group members, various government representatives, and
those individuals who took a major role in the Redress Movement.

You are cordially invited to join us in participating in plenary,
workshops, and performances during this special three-day event. A
student rate is available. Please visit
http://redressanniversary.najc.ca/redress for more information about
the conference and details on registration.

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