A look at Japanese Canadian pioneers

Dr. Audrey Kobayashi is speaking on the topic, "Remembering and Redress: the Japanese Canadian Experience in Lake Country," Sept. 22

LAKE COUNTRY — The Lake Country Heritage and Cultural Society is pleased to host Remembering and Redress: The Japanese Canadian experience in Lake Country.

Today’s lecture by Dr. Audrey Kobayashi of Queen’s University will present the history of the Japanese Canadian pioneers of Lake Country from their arrival in the early 1900s through their experiences during the Second World War.

Kobayashi, who was born and grew up in Okanagan Centre, will present an account of the pioneer families, the effects of the war on the Issei (first generation) and Nissei (second generation), and the Canadian government’s redress and apology.

Prior to the Second World War, 22,000 Japanese Canadians lived in British Columbia; 3/4 of them were naturalized citizens or second or third generation Canadians. During the war, more than 21,000 living within 100 miles of the B.C. coast were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to internment camps. After the war, 3,964 were deported to Japan; 1/3 of them were Canadian citizens.

On Sept. 22, 1988, the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement was signed in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney acknowledged the government’s wrongful actions during the war and pledged to ensure that the events would never recur. He officially recognized the loyalty of the Japanese Canadians to Canada and, as a symbolic redress for injustices, the government offered individual and community compensation to the Japanese Canadians.

In 1997, on behalf of Japanese Canadians, the Canadian government created the Canadian Race Relation Foundation, designed to foster racial harmony and help to eliminate racism.

Kobayashi is a professor and Queen’s research chair in the Department of Geography. She was a member of the team that negotiated the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement in 1988.

Her lecture takes place today at 1:30 p.m. at the Creekside Theatre, 10241 Bottom Wood Lake Rd., Winfield. Admission is by donation; doors open at 1 p.m. For more information, call 250-766-0111 or e-mail info@lakecountrymuseum.com.