Letter to the Editor
I read in the December ’07 Bulletin that the redevelopment of Oppenheimer Park will commemorate the Japanese Canadian history of that park. It seems appropriate that this will be done since the Nikkei community is strongly tied to this place and once knew it as Powell Grounds. I hope we will be able to see the final plans for this commemoration since it will be a major imprint on the Nikkei community.
Not only at Oppenheimer Park, but all the internment camps in Canada should have some kind of monument, however modest, placed at those locations. In the States, except for two camps, we have a monument at each of the camps; and it will only be a matter of time before we have some kind of monument at the two that don’t have one since our government has declared all of the camps national historic monuments and each camp will receive federal funding to restore, landscape and commemorate them. So the Canadian government should also provide some kind of similar funding if only to have some kind plaque or marker at the site to indicate that internment camps existed there. Or maybe the internees of each of the camps can raise the money for such a marker or plaque.
On the subject of internment camps, the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles is planning a conference in Denver, Colorado on July 3-6, 2008 commemorating the twentieth anniversary of our redress bill and will examine the World War II experience and its connections to historical and contemporary issues dealing with democracy and civil rights. There will be a whole slew of panels and workshops that will deal with such subjects as: finding your roots, a question of identity, preserving your family history, looking like the enemy, how children’s writers make books relevant to Japanese American youngsters, resistance to government orders, health care concerns of Japanese American elderly, hapa identity, how to conduct oral history, the Japanese American experience in the Southwestern and Mountain states, the preservation of the last three remaining Japantowns, etc. Those are just a few of the subjects that will be covered.
Since the programs are still tentative, I’m thinking of suggesting to the Japanese American National Museum to include a panel of Japanese Canadians to tell about their experiences during World War II. Perhaps there could be one panelist who went to the interior settlements; another who went to a self-supporting site; another who went to a sugar beet farm in the prairies; another who went to a road camp; one who went to Angler; and an expatriate to Japan. Japanese Americans don’t know too much about the Japanese Canadian experience, so this would be a good opportunity for you to educate us. It would be nice if some representatives from the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre could be at the conference.
Aside from the panels and workshops, there will be banquets, luncheons, speeches and a pilgrimage to the Amache internment camp in Colorado. Headquarters will be the Hyatt Regency Denver. Mr. Yoshin Tamaki of K. Iwata Travel Service, Ltd. at 774 Thurlow St. in Vancouver is listed in the conference brochure as the representative for making arrangements in Canada. He should have the brochures and the information regarding this conference.