Friday, November 10, 2017

The Lessons of Time

Relocation to Redress: The Internment of the Japanese Canadians

Earlier this week I read about the discovery in a national archive of a cache of 300 letters written by Japanese Canadians at the end of World War II. The writers are seeking justice for their mistreatment, often because their homes, businesses and personal belongings had been seized and sold while they were sequestered in internment camps. Their "crime" was being of Japanese ancestry and living on a coast. This was perceived as a threat.

Novelist Joy Kogawa has written about this miserable blot on our history (Obasan), as has environmentalist David Suzuki. Suzuki was six years old when his family was relocated to a camp. The irony is that he developed a curiosity for and enchantment with the natural world in their mountain setting, even though his family lived in crowded and filthy conditions.

The Canadian government finally apologized to the thousands of displaced Japanese Canadians in 1988. I wondered how the United Church had responded at the time, and whether we had any reason to apologize. To my dismay I discovered that one Japanese Canadian UCC church building was sold after the congregants were relocated. They had been promised otherwise by the denomination, and some lost cherished possessions stored in the church. The United Church did apologize to Japanese Canadians in 2009, more than 60 years after the end of the war.

Tomorrow I'll reflect some more on those we perceive as enemies and how, sadly, our faith can actually deepen our suspicions and reinforce our demonization of those who are our neighbours during times of conflict

 In some respects this is the challenge of a lifetime. God grant us the grace to see clearly and to love as Christ would have us love.

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