Forgiveness featured at immigration museum

Mark Sakamoto’s book features his grandparents who suffered vastly different experiences during World War II. (photo: CBC)

During this Asian Heritage Month, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 will feature an event called Forgiveness, Family and Canadian Identity. It will involve a discussion with Mark Sakamoto who wrote a book about his Canadian grandparents who experienced World War II from very different angles.

His grandfather, Ralph Maclean, was a Canadian soldier who was captured by the Japanese army. During his time in prison camps, he endured pestilence, beatings and starvation and what publicists call “a journey on a hell ship to Japan.”

Being of Japanese origin, his grandmother. Mitsue Sakamoto and her family were ordered to leave their Vancouver home by the government and were sent to a work farm in the western province of Alberta for a dollar a day. After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour, over 22,000 people of Japanese origin were sent to internment camps in the name of national security.

During World War II, thousands of people of Japanese origin were forced from their homes in the western province of British Columbia and sent to internment camps. (CBC archives)
Grandparents broken in different ways

When the war ended, Ralph was said to be broken but a survivor and Mitsue was worn down by years of hard labour. Years later, Ralph’s daughter and Mituse’s son fell in love, married and had son Mark. His book Forgiveness: A Gift from my Grandparents shows that “despite facing such enormous transgressions against them, the two families learned to forgive.”

Mark Sakamoto will discuss his book on the evening of May 22, 2019 at the museum.

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is located at the eastern seaport at Halifax where nearly one million immigrants landed in Canada between 1928 and 1971. The museum’s stated aim is to foster “a deeper understanding of how newcomers shape our country.”

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