by Stefanie Nakamura
When I was younger my father told me about the Japanese Canadian interment camps in Canada during WW2. I flat out told him he must be making it up because I had never heard of it. He reassured me it was true and gave me a quick history lesson. I was skeptical because I thought if this happened why was it not taught in class? I was well aware of the events that took place across the world during the World Wars but somehow that part was never mentioned.
Later on, feeling some sort of quest like duty, I went around telling my friends and sneaking some facts into conversations with whom ever would listen (especially in class). I was shocked how little was known about the subject. There aren't any Hollywood movies or TV series about it. But I thought people have the right to know. The people who suffered have the right to be heard and never forgotten.
Fear, resentment, and racism led to the largest mass relocation of an ethnic population in Canadian history. It broke up families, took away everything they had ever worked for, and treated them as if they were the enemy. Many of the Japanese Canadians had never been to Japan but based on their appearance were considered a threat. If we do not as a country look back on this event and bow our head and think hard about the repercussion of our actions what is to say we will not do it again?
I look back as a young Japanese Canadian and say, “that could have been me.” The idea of someone like me being considered a spy and being uprooted from their home is horrible. I can’t imagine the pain this caused.
I am incredibly touched to be a part of a production that will give a voice to those who had none. What I hope for after leaving the play is to hear the dialogue start. One person tells another “hey did you know that there were interment camps in Canada during WW2?” and then that person tells another and so on. What I love about the play is that you follow a young Japanese girl along in her journey. You get entertained but in the end you have learned something. I am very excited to be working with Paul and Persephone Productions. I hope everyone will enjoy the play and spread the knowledge!