Related Redress Movements

The issue of Japanese Redress and Interment shares multiple similarities with other past social movements, notably the Ukrainian, and Sikh Canadian (Komagata Maru) Redress movements. At various points throughout our history each of these groups were interned and imprisoned by the Canadian Government. Much like their Japanese counterparts during the Second World War, the culture of fear surrounding different culture and peoples caused thousands of innocent men, women, and children to be imprisoned. Ultimately, by sharing the same struggle and cause, these movements were significant in contributing to the effectiveness of the Japanese Redress Movement. Also, as much as it was unintended, each of these movements would increase the general notoriety of the general redress movement in Canada. Though the separate events triggering each individual movement would happen at different times. Each movement would assist the others in amplifying and exposing the wrongs committed against these other afflicted cultural groups.  

Perhaps one of the most well known Redress movements has been that of Ukrainian Canadians. In this case, during the First World War, approximately 4,000 men and women were confined between 1914 and 1920[1]. Thousands more innocent Ukrainian Canadians would be registered as “enemy aliens” by the Canadian Federal Government under the War Measures Act[2]. During this time, much like what Japanese Canadians would face during World War Two, Ukrainian Canadians were suspected of allying with the enemy powers of the First World War, specifically the Austro-Hungarian Empire[3]. The small amount of property and wealth Ukrainian Canadians had amassed, or brought with them from Ukraine, was immediately seized through the War Measures Act by the Canadian Government[4]. Essentially, Ukrainian Canadians received the same unacceptable and unfair treatment by the Government of Canada that the Japanese Canadian community would endure 30 years later. In much the same way as the Japanese Canadian movement, the Ukrainian Canadian community has worked for redress and compensation from the Federal Government. The Ukrainian Redress movement differs mainly from the Japanese community’s in the level of attention it has received from the Federal Government. While the Canadian Government, under Prime Minister Mulroney, would apologize to the Japanese Canadian community, Ukrainians would not be granted an official apology. The closest thing to an apology Ukrainian Canadians would receive would be a $10 million dollar grant from the Federal Government in 2008 to “recognize the internment of Eastern European immigrants in Canadian work camps during the First World War.[5]” This success came from years of lobbying the Canadian Government and other initiatives. Ultimately, the tactics and processes used by both the Ukrainian and Japanese communities would add to their similarities and inadvertently help both movements at being successful.

The Italian Redress Movement was very similar to both the Ukrainian and Japanese movements. Centered on injustices committed against Italian Canadians during the Second World War, this movement also sought an apology and compensation from the Government of Canada. Much like their Ukrainian and Japanese counterparts, many Italian Canadians were forcibly contained during the Second World War under the same laws as Japanese Canadians, as the Government considered many “enemy aliens”[6]. Despite the best attempts of the National Congress of Italian Canadians, the Italian Canadian Redress movement would not receive an official apology from the Government of Canada. However, in 2008, the Italian Community would receive 5 million dollars from Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government to go toward the Government established “Community Historical Recognition Program.[7]”  

Another movement similar to Japanese Redress is that of the Canadian Sikh community looking for compensation regarding the Komagata Maru. The Komagata Maru landed in Vancouver in 1914, carrying passengers originating from India[8]. Approximately 300 of the ship’s passengers were not allowed to remain in Canada, as they did not meet Canada’s exclusive “Original Port” immigration entry requirements as the ship stopped in Hong Kong[9]. Principally, this was a racist immigration measure introduced by the Canadian Government in order to ensure that “desirable” European immigrants were the only migrants able to make it legally to Canada. In all, the 300 Indian migrants on board were forced to return to India as a result of this racist policy[10].

The Komagata Maru has had an extensive redress movement, specifically stemming from the Canadian Sikh community. This movement led to the creation of a plaque honoring the 80th Anniversary of the event and a monument, constructed in July 2012[11], in addition to a formal memorial statue in Vancouver. The movement achieved success as, in August of 2008, the Canadian Federal Government officially apologized for the incident[12].
           Overall, the Ukrainian and Italian Canadian Redress movements, along with the Komagata Maru campaign, are three of the most notable redress movements that share a common theme with the Japanese Redress Movement. These movements would employ much the same political strategy in order to raise their concerns with the Federal Government. Together, they would raise the call for redress as a combined issue, so that all peoples who have been wronged may receive the compensation and recognition they deserve in a great democracy such as our own. In this, each redress movement would increase the effectiveness of the Japanese Canadian movement, and quite possibly, contributed to its success in receiving extensive compensation and an official apology from the Government of Canada.

 

[1] Kordan, Bohdan S. and Craig Mahovsky. A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian-Canadian Redress. Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2004. Print.
[2] Kordan, Bohdan S. and Craig Mahovsky.
A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian-Canadian Redress. Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2004. Print.
[3] Kordan, Bohdan S. and Craig Mahovsky.
A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian-Canadian Redress. Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2004. Print.
[4] Kordan, Bohdan S. and Craig Mahovsky.
A Bare and Impolitic Right: Internment and Ukrainian-Canadian Redress. Canada: McGill-Queens University Press, 2004. Print.
[5] “Ukrainian Canadians hail resolution of internment issue.” CTV News – The Canadian Press. 10 May 2008. Web. Accessed 12 March 2014.
[6] Iacovetta, Franca. Roberto Perin, and Angelo Principe.
Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad. Canada: University of Toronto Press, 2000. Print.
[7] Hickman, Pamela and Jean Smith.
Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Italian Canadian Internment in the Second World War. Canada, 2010. Print.
[8] Kazimi, Ali. Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru – An illustrated History. Canada: Douglas and McIntyre, 2012. Print.
[
9] Kazimi, Ali. Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru – An illustrated History. Canada: Douglas and McIntyre, 2012. Print.
[10]Johnston, Hugh. The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada’s Colour Bar. Canada: Oxford University Press, 1979. Print.
[11] Kazimi, Ali. Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru – An illustrated History. Canada: Douglas and McIntyre, 2012. Print.
[12] Kazimi, Ali. Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru – An illustrate History. Canada: Douglas and McIntyre, 2012. Print.

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