February 24th marks the 70th anniversary of the uprooting of Japanese Canadians from coastal British Columbia. “It is important to remember these times in our history and learn so that we can do better in future,” said Green Leader Elizabeth May.
Order in Council 1486 was passed on February 24, 1942, authorizing that all “persons of Japanese racial origin” be systematically removed from an area along the BC coast. Many ended up separated from family in internment camps. More than 20,000 Japanese Canadians were affected.
This event was part of a longer-term effort against Japanese Canadians during the timeframe of WWII, including labelling them as “enemy aliens” and stripping them of their civil rights. The RCMP was able to search Japanese homes and seize possessions without a warrant. Japanese Canadians were forced to carry an identification card and subjected to curfews.
“There is greater danger in targeting people based on their ethnicity rather than examining any real threat to national security. We must continue to take care that government actions are not racially motivated. It is vital that civil liberties be preserved for citizens,” said May.
“It is especially important to recall this shameful blot on our history as the internment of refugees is again planned by the Harper Conservatives in Bill C-31,” said May.
Bill C-31, dubbed Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, has provisions that would see men and women and children 16-18 who come to Canada in an “irregular arrival” be interned for up to a year without review.