Victoria City Council to recind motions regarding Japanese Canadians from 1942/1945

N O T I C E  O F  M O T I O N

Date:    April 11, 2012
To:    Mayor and Council
From:    Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe
Department:    Mayor / Manager’s Office
Subject:    Notice of Motion – Japanese Canadians


On February 13th, 1942, Victoria City Council played a significant role of uprooting Japanese Canadians with a motion that was brought forward and supported by that Council. It was moved by Alderman Gadsden, seconded by Alderman Wills that:
Whereas the war in the Pacific has placed British Columbia and particularly Vancouver Island in a position of vital danger; and
Whereas the experience of countries overrun by our enemies has shown us the menace of allowing persons of enemy races to live in any places that may be open to attack; and
Whereas, the fact that there are hundreds of persons of enemy race living on the Pacific Coast, and no action has yet been taken to resolve this potential danger from our midst, and this lack of action is causing unrest and grave apprehension among our residents; and
Whereas in our opinion prompt action is necessary to allay the apprehension and concern of our people and to assure that our women and children are to be safeguarded from grave jeopardy; and
Whereas the responsibility that rests on our representatives cannot be retrieved if through their failure that rests on our representatives cannot be retrieved if through their failure to act promptly we, the residents  of the Pacific Coast area, become the victims of our enemies;
Therefore be it resolved that the Dominion Government be urged to remove all persons of enemy races from the coast of the British Columbia without further delay; and
Be it further resolved that this Council heartily endorse the arguments in this regard paced before the Federal Parliament by our member, Mr. R.W Mayhew, MP, and that copies of this resolution be air mailed to the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Defence, and Mr. R.W. Mayhew, MP, and be sent to the Premier of British Columbia and all City and District Municipalities of the Province, requesting  them to give it their immediate and effective support.”   

The first motion originated from Victoria City Council and a second motion followed on February 27th, 1942 in response to a letter sent by the City of Kelowna.  The letter quoted a resolution passed by the Kelowna City Council,  that all male Japanese of military age should be interned;   that any evacuation of other Japanese to east of the Cascade Mountains should be under strict supervision of the Dominion Authorities and to only suitable areas where proper Police control could be exercised at all times, and should be effected in a manner that would not arouse popular indignation and outrage; that the Dominion Government should prohibit the sale or lease or rental of any farm land or other real estate to Japanese during the present crisis, and, further, demanding that the Government take immediate action to deal effectively with this whole matter.  From this letter, Victoria Alderman Williams moved, seconded by Alderman Davies, that the communications be received and placed on file; and that the resolution quoted in the letter from the City of Kelowna be approved and endorsed by the City Council; and that the Prime Minister of Canada, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Pensions and National Health, and Mr. R.W Mayhew, MP be so advised.

It is due to the first two motions, of which the first motion was led by the City of Victoria, that prompted the federal government 70 years ago to pass and Order-in-Council, authorizing the uprooting of all peoples of Japanese heritage from B.C’s coast, regardless of age, gender or citizenship.  Sent to internment camps in the Interior or to places further east, Japanese-Canadians subsequently saw their properties seized and sold off, and a co-ordinated attempt to banish them permanently from B.C and Canada.

Furthermore, on February 12th, 1945, Victoria City Council upon receiving a copy of resolution passed by the Kelowna Board of Trade that stated:
Whereas, by reason of Japanese National doctrine, outlook, and expressed intentions, they will never fit into the Canadian scheme of life and work with us wholeheartedly in building Canada’s future; and
Whereas the Japanese are not assimilable (fortunately, so far, both races have frowned on mixed marriages, but Canada does not want to run the risk of what has happened as the result of mixed marriages in other parts of the world); and
Whereas all Canadian-born Japanese have a dual allegiance; (the birth of all children of Japanese parents in Canada were registered at the Japanese Consulate in Vancouver, and the death of persons of Japanese origin was registered in like manner); and (the statement was made in the Canadian Parliament and not challenged, ‘that so far, not one Canadian-born Japanese has renounced his dual citizenship); and
Whereas many Canadian-born Japanese had returned to their own country to take military training, and many of these people are now fighting for the Japanese armed forces;
Now Therefore Be It Resolved that this meeting demands repatriation of all peoples of Japanese origin after the war to Japan, the repatriates to be allowed to take back with them any assets which they may have here in Canada.”

Victoria Alderman Diggon moved, seconded by Alderman Mulliner,
1.    That the communication be received and placed on file; that the resolution submitted therewith be endorsed by the City Council;
2.    That the Council urge on the Dominion Government that at the next Federal Election the opinion of the people be taken by way of Referendum on the question of what disposition should be made of the Japanese in Canada in the post-war period; and
3.    That the proper  Authorities at Ottawa through Mr. R.W Mayhew, MP, and the Kelowna board of Trade be apprised of the City Council’s decision on the matter.

On March 5, 1987, on request by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, it was moved by Alderman Levin, seconded by Alderman Carson, that Council rescinds the resolution passed on February 13, 1942 calling for the removal of “all persons of enemy races from the coast of B.C.”


This month is the 70 anniversary of the Japanese internment.

I move that:
Whereas, the February 13, 1942 Motion was rescinded by Victoria City Council on March 5, 1987,
Therefore be it resolved that Victoria City Council rescind the motions made of February 27, 1942 and February 12, 1945;
And, be it further resolved that on Sunday April 22 from 2-4pm in the Victoria City Hall antechamber,  the City of Victoria will host with the Nikkei Japanese Cultural Association, a book launch for “Gateway to Promise-Canada’s First Japanese Community,” written by local historians Ann-Lee and Gordon Switzer with foreward by Midge Ayukawa, and that Victoria City Council will cover the costs for the launch to a maximum of $2000.00, to include the purchase of “Gateway to Promise-Canada’s First Japanese Community,”  to send to former residents and contributors who provided their personal stories.

Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe