Special Ceremony at (Cumberland) Japanese No 1 Town
May 8, 2010
Ceremony – 1:30pmt
2211 Comox Lake Road (1.5 miles west of Cumberland)
Reception at the Cumberland OAP at 3pm, 2674 Dunsmuir.
Cumberland will be hosting an important event to commemorate and recognize a sad chapter in Canadian (and local) history. On Saturday May 8th at 1:30 pm the community is invited to stand in recognition and remembrance of the once thriving Japanese #1 Townsite Community and the events that led to its forced evacuation in 1942. This special ceremony of reconciliation and healing is open to all who have been touched by this important piece of history.
As early as 1891, immigrant coal miners and their families established No. 1 Japanese Town, 1 ½ miles west of the town of Union. This prominent Japanese community flourished for 49 years until the enactment of the War Measures Act by the Government of Canada in 1942.
At that time, thirty-one families were ordered to leave and removed to internment camps mostly in the interior of BC. Despite promises by the government, possessions and property were confiscated soon after the internment of their owners, never to be returned.
For 5 years after WW 2 ended, Japanese people were barred from returning closer than 300 miles from the West Coast. These former residents and their descendents now live in communities scattered across Canada, the majority on the greater Toronto area.
In recent years the site has become the focus of much dedication from the Coal Creek Historic Park Advisory Committee, a committee made up of Cumberland residents and former residents and family members from Cumberland’s Chinatown and Japanese No. 1 Town.
In 2009 thirty-one cherry trees were planted to symbolize the families who resided at this site in 1942. On May 8th 2010 a special ceremony is being presented by the Coal Creek Historic Park Advisory Committee and will include a Bronze Plaque unveiled honouring the families and the site. These projects have been made possible through generous support from the National Association of Japanese Canadians and through donations from former residents, families and community members.
“This project exists to bridge cultures. It exists to honour the communities that were integral to the development of the Village of Cumberland and it exists to acknowledge a history that includes racism, fear and injustice. It exists to ensure that important stories and lessons are not forgotten. Most importantly this project exists to ensure an ongoing process of reconciliation and healing that will ensure that these types of actions are never repeated.” says Committee Chair Grace Doherty.
The Special Ceremony on May 8th will be attended by many former residents and family members of No. 1 Japanese Town. Community members who wish to join in this quiet and respectful acknowledgement are also welcome to attend.
– article reprinted here with written permission from the Cumberland Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Centre http://cumberlandbc.org/events/special-ceremony-at-japanese-no-1-town/