Series: Righting Canada's Wrongs
Authors: Pamela Hickman and Masako Fukawa
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company
Book source: review copy from publisher
From the cover:
One of the less attractive characteristics of Canadians as a group is our smugness - our conviction that no matter what terrible things are happening in other countries, they don't happen here. Or so we like to tell ourselves. Japanese Canadian Internment is the first book in a new series for teens that's devoted to injustices the Canadian people (and their government) have inflicted on each other. It's not comfortable reading, but it's necessary. We need to remember that Canadians are people - with as much capacity for greed and close-mindedness and casual evil as people anywhere.When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, there were over 20,000 Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia. From the first arrivals in the late nineteenth century, they had taken up work in the province, established families and communities, and had become part of Canadian society, depsite frequently being faced with racism and prejudice in its many forms.But with war came wartime hysteria. After Pearl harbor, Japanese Canadian residents of BC were rounded up and forced to move to internment camps with inadequate housing, water, and food. Their homes and properties were seized. Men and older boys were sent to road camps, while some families ended up on farms where they were essentially used as slave labour. Eventually, after years of pressure, the Canadian government admitted that the internment was wrong and apologized for it.
Through historical photographs, documents, and first-person narratives from five Japanese Canadians who were youths when they endured the experience, this book provides a full account of an important and shocking episode in Canadian history.
This book provides reality checks in abundance. It covers the history of Japanese people in Canada, beginning with the first immigrant in 1877 and ending with the Canadian Government's reparations for its policies during World War II. It's presented in the style of DK's Eyewitness series, as a series of photographs with detailed captions. The photographs are as eye-opening as the European WW II images most people are more familiar with.
The inherent shortcoming of the format is that it leans more towards sound bites and less towards context and synthesis. The phenomenal success of the Eyewitness series, however, suggests that most kids don't share my bias on this point, and I expect they'll devour Japanese Canadian Internment. Especially evocative are the reprints of political cartoons from the era, and the first-hand accounts of the real people who survived internment as children.
The book's back matter includes a timeline, detailed glossary, and extensive further reading section. Due to its subject matter and curriculum tie-ins, this book will make a great addition to school libraries. Young history buffs will also get lost in its pages.