Panel explores impact of internment of Japanese Canadians

Canada may be renowned for its tolerance, multiculturalism and respect, and pride itself on its Charter of Rights and Freedom, but during the Second World War this country forced citizens of Japanese and Italian heritage out of their homes and into internment camps. It was a dark moment in the nation’s history.

David TsubouchiOn Wednesday, David Tsubouchi joins a panel discussion about the internment of Japanese and Italian Canadians in Canada during the Second World War.

Left: David Tsubouchi

The discussion kicks off this academic year’s Research Matters series, a monthly showcase of research in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.

“Our first panel of the year provides us with some important reflections on Canadian internment, government redress policies and ways to move forward,” says Barbara Crow, LA&PS associate dean, research.

The two-hour panel starts at 2pm in 280N York Lanes.

Panelists will talk about their families’ experience, government redress, balancing state security and civil liberties, and the impact of the internment on 21st century Canada.

Tsubouchi (BA ’72, LLB ’75) is a member of York’s Board of Governors and a former Ontario cabinet minister. In his presentation, Bachan’s Story, he will tell what happened to his mother. She was one of 22,000 Japanese Canadians – including women, children and older people – whose property was confiscated by the government and who were interned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942.

Social science Professor Livy Visano will talk about otherness and refugee experience in The Refuge of Dislocation and the Conscience of Critique. Unlike immigrants, refugees are compelled by survival rather than choice. Displaced refugees face the horrendous shock of abandonment by one’s own country and people, and are haunted by rather than nostalgic about their past.

History Professor Roberto Perin will ask what Canada can learn from the Second World War internments. In his talk, Wartime Internment and Government Redress: Are We Learning from Past Mistakes?, he will look at the consequences of government policy toward “enemy aliens” – Japanese, Germans, Italians and communists – during the war, and ask: Was the right balance found between the imperatives of state security and the civil liberties of vulnerable individuals and groups? Given the War Measures Act and the war on terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, achieving a balance between state security and civil liberties remains a current concern today.

The panel will be moderated by Merle Jacobs, chair of Equity Studies.

Research Matters is open to all. RSVP to or 416-736-2100 ext. 33584.

For upcoming talks in the series, visit the Research Matters webpage.