Saturday, December 08, 2012

A shameful past … an outstanding read.

One of my greatest pleasures is to come upon a book that I simply can’t put down. That’s what happened when I took a chance on this book that I saw on display in our local library.

It is “Requiem” by Frances Itani. I had never heard of her but it appears that she is a well known Canadian writer and I feel sure that AC and Philip will know the name.

In a nutshell this is the story of Bin Okuma, a Canadian artist who is suffering the loss of his wife … compounded by the memories and the anger he has suppressed for years due to his unjust youth. He and his family were part of the 21,000 citizens of Japanese ancestry who were sent to Canadian internment camps during World War II.

Ms. Itani weaves her story around the long drive that Bin, now in his mid fifties, takes from Ottawa to British Columbia to visit the site of the camp where he spent his childhood. She recalls in great detail what life was like then and how the families survived despite great deprivation.

I found her book especially fascinating since I never realized that Canada took part in this round-up like we did here in the United States. It’s interesting to note that as I write this it is Dec. 7th … 71 years to the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. To our everlasting shame 127,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them from the West Coast, were uprooted from their homes and relocated to internment camps after that attack.


Blogger kenju said...

Ginnie, I will definitely make a not of that one. Our book club has read 2 books lately that speak to that era, and this sounds like a good addition to the list. Thanks.

7:47 AM  
Blogger possum said...

I think I will pass... our history as human beings is so full of shameful acts against fellow human beings - not to mention other sentient beings or even good old Mother Earth... I can get depressed just thinking about it.
I understand the fear back in those days of those who "looked" Japanese - but what about all the Germanic people? Was there no fear of "Them?"
And today, what does the enemy really look like? Sure, we (as a nation) are trying to demonize those who look Arabic, but in truth, I think we need to look much closer at home.
These are scary times.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

AC has never heard of this author, but our regrettable past is nothing new to me.

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never heard of this fellow, but reading sad literature at this time of the year is dangerous for me. Too sad already. Dianne

6:08 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

Interesting and new to me as well. I'll check with our local librarian...

9:05 AM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Canada was quick to round up "aliens" and others they thought might be agents of the AXIS powers. It is not a part of our history should take any pride in. The Japanese, many of them citizens, were moved inland to camps and lost their homes, business and fishing boats as a result. In the East Canada sent German and Italian citizens and residents to various camps. We also had many prisoner of war camps for german soldiers sent to Canada from Britain. There were lots of camps strung across the North. For the most part Prisoners of war were treated very well. On Camp in Kapuskasing, Ontario (now an eight hour drive north of where I live) did not even have guards. It was so remote the bugs would get you in the summer and the cold would get you in the winter. Attempts to escape was rare. Life was comfortable in the camps and where would they go. I think only one German Prisoner of war escaped to the US, before they joined the effort, and found his way back to Germany. None of these camp site remain. They would have make interesting tourist sites eventually.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Such a tragic time. What we do to others out of fear is so horrific. The events of Dec. 14 have made many of think that things can't get much worse. But they can and have in the past.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Ginny, I read this and Sue is reading it now. It was very good and informative. Thankfully, Canada has changed a lot since then.

7:51 AM  

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