Powell Street, Vancouver

It would be easy to overlook the historic site of Vancouver’s Power Street. Little remains except for a beautifully maintained Japanese Language School.

I’d taken a walking tour of the area several years back. To my delight, an elderly woman who once lived in the then Japanese neighbourhood, joined our tour and pointed out her personal connection to many of the worn-out buildings. 

There were boarding houses where many of the Japanese men lived before they were uprooted during the Second World War. With only a suitcase of belongings, Japanese families were forced to live out the war in the interior of B.C. under dire conditions. After the war, those who left property behind could never reclaim it. Many were encouraged to go back to Japan even though they had been born in Canada.

This treatment didn’t just happen in Canada. The United States and Australia both rounded up their Japanese citizens during that time.

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