Winifred Awmack, interviewed by Ruth M. Chambers, 06 February 1984 (1 of 3)

Winifred Awmack, interviewed by Ruth M. Chambers, 06 February 1984 (1 of 3)

Abstract
In this first interview between Ruth Chambers and Winifred J. Awmack, Awmack discusses her time as a teacher at Tashme during the internment era. She reveals the layout of Tashme and the living conditions present in the camp such as the construction of the shacks teachers and Japanese Canadians had to live in during their time in Tashme. Awmack explains how teachers in Tashme were recruited for the position and why provincial teachers and support were not present in the camps despite their location in British Columbia. She notes that Japanese Canadians were forced to choose between exile to Japan or moving further east past the Rockies, and she further notes the characteristics of each situation: sugar beets in Alberta or a sense of isolation in Japan. In the interview Awmack focuses on children in her history and the United Church schools in the camp. She emphasizes how these schools became a community centre with events and clubs operating around the school, some created by the students. Awmack illuminates the difficulties in teaching through correspondents as she and other teachers had to improvise lessons due to a lack of supplies or equipment. Regarding dispossession, Awmack describes how Japanese Canadians had nothing to return to on the west coast because the Custodian of Enemy Property sold their property without permission. She emphasizes the prices for which property was sold, stating that they were incredibly low, and she notes how Japanese Canadians were forced to take on fees usually paid by the buyer of a home. Awmack describes how Japanese Canadian personal property was looted by other Canadians.
No transcription available.

Metadata

Title

Winifred Awmack, interviewed by Ruth M. Chambers, 06 February 1984 (1 of 3)

Abstract

In this first interview between Ruth Chambers and Winifred J. Awmack, Awmack discusses her time as a teacher at Tashme during the internment era. She reveals the layout of Tashme and the living conditions present in the camp such as the construction of the shacks teachers and Japanese Canadians had to live in during their time in Tashme. Awmack explains how teachers in Tashme were recruited for the position and why provincial teachers and support were not present in the camps despite their location in British Columbia. She notes that Japanese Canadians were forced to choose between exile to Japan or moving further east past the Rockies, and she further notes the characteristics of each situation: sugar beets in Alberta or a sense of isolation in Japan. In the interview Awmack focuses on children in her history and the United Church schools in the camp. She emphasizes how these schools became a community centre with events and clubs operating around the school, some created by the students. Awmack illuminates the difficulties in teaching through correspondents as she and other teachers had to improvise lessons due to a lack of supplies or equipment. Regarding dispossession, Awmack describes how Japanese Canadians had nothing to return to on the west coast because the Custodian of Enemy Property sold their property without permission. She emphasizes the prices for which property was sold, stating that they were incredibly low, and she notes how Japanese Canadians were forced to take on fees usually paid by the buyer of a home. Awmack describes how Japanese Canadian personal property was looted by other Canadians.

Credits

Interviewer: Ruth M. Chambers
Interviewee: Winifred Awmack
Transcriber: Jennifer Landrey
Audio Checker: Nathaniel Hayes
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Victoria, British Columbia
Keywords: Tashme ; United Church ; education; policy; agency; camp life; camp buildings; activities; religion; missionaries; food; gender; letters; language barrier; scouts; exile; property; camp school; race; franchise; citizenship; Obasan; Joy Kogawa

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.