Day 5: East Lillooet
Updated: Jul 19, 2019
The self-supporting site of East Lillooet, population 300 Japanese Canadians, was racially segregated from the rest of the town. The physical divide between the two camps was the Fraser River. Families could stay together if they paid their own way to relocate. Kaye Kaminishi, the last living Asahi player organized a friendly game of baseball and broke the divide with the town of Lillooet. Dr Masajiro Miyazaki (1899-1984) was the town doctor, and served not only the Japanese Canadian internees, but the Indigenous and white communities as well. His house is currently a restored heritage site open to visitors of all ages.
"From Kamloops our bus tour ventured to Lillooet, our last stop of the tour. Along the way we had visited many roadside signs and stops acknowledging the internment of Japanese Canadians, but the one in Lillooet felt unique: it was accompanied with a plaque of acknowledgment from the government of British Columbia, a memorial garden, and it was just far enough from town to be able to view the homes and businesses but also feel isolated from them. Why did the provincial government specifically recognize this site? How did Japanese Canadians feel being so close to a town but still separated from the urban centre? Either from the provincial acknowledgement, the view of the town, or the desert-like environment, I was impacted by this memorial’s presentation. For a brief moment, I was not a tourist." -Nat
"The restoration of Dr. Masajiro Miyazaki’s home and office provided a glance into the professional life outside of the domestic sphere, since most restored exhibits displayed the insides of shacks and apartments where the internees lived. This office was important to me, because it represented Dr. Miyazaki’s willingness overcome prejudice and racism, and to not only serve his community, but to also look after the health of the members of the Indigenous population and white population." -Aya
"This image is one that fills me with joy. Pat and Susan are the two extraordinary Nikkei women standing on the bridge that connects the formerly segregated communities of the Interment site East Lillooet with Lillooet. These two women were both interned and are standing on the bridge that they would not have been able to cross during their internment due to racial prejudice. They can now cross back and forth freely, eliminating the bridge as a symbol of racism and making the space become one of resilence by entering it, and walking across. I’m happy that the present is beating the past in the context of what this bridge symbolizes, and it gives me hope that Frank Moritsugu was wrong." -Helen F.
Adachi, Ken. The Enemy that Never Was. Toronto, 1976.
Kawamoto, Linda Reid and Beth Carter. Karizumai: A Guide to Japanese Canadian Internment Sites. Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, 2016.
Sunahara, Ann Gomer. The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Toronto, 1981.