It ranks as one of the darkest moments of Canadian history.
As the Second World War unfolded, marked by Japanese invasions of British Hong Kong and Malaya and the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, some 22,000 Japanese Canadians were stripped of their homes and businesses and sent to internment camps and farms in British Columbia and across Canada.
Their homes and businesses were confiscated and sold by the federal government.
And unlike prisoners of war, who are protected by the Geneva Convention, Japanese Canadians had to pay for their own internment as their movements were restricted and their mail censored.
It took until April 1, 1949 before they were given back full citizenship rights, including the right to vote and the right to return to the West Coast.
Thirty-nine years later, on September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney apologized and announced a $300 million compensation package.
It included $21,000 for each of the 13,000 survivors, $12 million for a Japanese community fund and $24 million to create a Canadian race relations foundation, to ensure such discrimination never happens again.
With a new provincial government in place, members of the Canada’s Japanese community are holding meetings across the country to discuss how the B.C. apology can result in some meaningful action for those past wrongs back in the 1940s.
When the discussions are completed, recommendations will be presented to the province.
I spoke by phone on Monday with Oikawa, whose family were among the victims.Listen