May 25, 2022
“This land was made for you and me.” This is a line from the song by Woody Guthrie. In the 1960s, Canadian folk singers, The Travellers, changed the lyrics to include Canadian locations. The theme of our cross-Canada journey this year is: This Land. Although we won’t be visiting all the places mentioned in the song, we will see as much as we can.
Our first stop in our journey coincidentally was New Denver, BC, the location of the Japanese internment camp during WWII. We saw a sign for Kohan Reflection Garden, and we are never ones to miss a Japanese garden, so we stopped. However, we had not made the connection that this was the location of an internment camp most Canadians are familiar with.
During WWII, innocent Japanese-Canadians were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to remote internment camps. This was a deplorable event in Canada’s history, and one we should not be too eager to repeat. Fear can be used to justify all sorts of atrocities. These past two years have shown us how quickly people can be turned against each other through weaponized fear.
The Kohan Reflection Garden is located along Slocan Lake. At this elevation, spring had just begun, and the blossoms were a wonderful tribute to all the beautiful Japanese Canadians who suffered.
Also located in town is the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre. Unfortunately, it was after-hours, but we were able to peak through the fence. The community center and 3 cabins for internees are all that remain of this appalling chapter.
This land. Our land.
Never forget. Never repeat.