Stephanie Bangarth, interviewed by Alicia Fong, 12 June 2015

Stephanie Bangarth, interviewed by Alicia Fong, 12 June 2015

Abstract
This interview is with Stephanie Bangarth at her home in Cambridge, Ontario on June 12, 2015 for the Landscapes of Injustice Project. Stephanie elaborates about her motivations for her book, Voices Raised in Protest and her passion for social justice issues in Canadian history. Her Master’s thesis involved 6 major farming communities in southwest Ontario that relocated Japanese-Canadian workers from BC Her PhD thesis involved the comparative study of Japanese Canadian or Japanese American efforts to protest government legislation. Her parents bought a farm that historically employed Japanese-Canadian labourers during WWII, and her mother was employed by a Japanese-Canadian family on a sugar beet farm in the 1950s. She is interested in issues surrounding citizenship due to the differing immigrant experiences of her parents, who are of Dutch or Hungarian descent. Stephanie is quite passionate about teaching university students about Canadian history in a way that prepares them to have agency towards injustice.
00:00:00.000
Alicia Fong (AF)
This is Alicia Fong on June 12th for the Landscapes of Injustice project. I am here with Stephanie Bangarth at her home to conduct our first interview together. So I decided to contact you based on your book related to the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians.
AF
Could you tell me about your book, Voices Raised in Protest?
SB
Okay, so what I intended to do with the book was to outline the ways in which concerned citizens both of Japanese ancestry and non-Japanese ancestry reacted to the incarceration and the various other policies related to dispossession, land ownership, race, race relations, citizenship during World War II in response to the incarceration policies in both Canada and the United States. Because, it occurred to me that throughout most of the histories that I’d read or the studies that I’d read, that the Japanese Canadians and the Japanese Americans and persons of Japanese ancestry were people who had things done to them and I thought that there must have been some kind of protest in some way, shape or form. People must have, as the title suggests, raised their voices. And I wanted to know who those people were, why they did that, the variety of ways that they protested in large or small, and I wanted to show with this book you know, that the state can attempt to do things, but there are concerned citizens, concerned groups, concerned politicians even, concerned elites, and concerned everyday people who react to these injustices. And that was the primary response, or primary motivation for doing that. And I wanted to also show how persons of Japanese ancestry and those not of Japanese ancestry worked together in that, that was the – I guess, the rationales, the dual rationales for that. I wanted to empower, to show the history that persons of Japanese ancestry had agency and that, Canadians and Americans felt empowered to rise up against the state in however many ways that they did. There were numerous ways but um, both large and small, both from government protest to newspaper articles to simple organizations and I wanted to have the opportunity to demonstrate that in a book project, which originally started out of course, as a PhD dissertation. Um, so that was, and it was a very meaningful project too. I think with a dissertation or any kind of project as a writer, it has to have meaning for you so this was meaningful for me.
AF
Could you explain a bit more about um, your choice of wording using the word incarceration as opposed to internment?
SB
Internment. Okay, well I, I do that because um, a number of scholars in the U.S. uh, have primarily gone that route and I was convinced that the use of the term incarceration seemed more appropriate than internment. Because I suppose in, in you know, the legalistic sense of the term, internment um, means that you are uh, kind of charged with a, with a crime, with some form of explanation. Whereas with incarceration it’s, it’s Tetsuden Kashima and also Roger Daniels explain it, you know it’s, it’s just a mass process involving lots of people where there’s kind of no identification of what the issue or the particular criminal offense is and so it’s indiscriminate. And so I thought that that term incarceration has a, it captures that indiscriminate kind of sense of capture and, I suppose. Yeah, I’m trying to think of another word, but it, Stephanie made several false starts. it encapsulates that sense of capturing people and keeping them hostage without charging them with a crime, which is kind of an internment. So in Canada, the true sense of the term internment you know, there are, there are a few hundred men who were sort of charged and, and interned proper in, you know places like Angler. Uh, but what about the, the women and children and the men who weren’t sent to those places? It’s a, it was a very different experience and so I agree with Roger Daniels and Tetsuden Kashima that we need to use words that, that matter to relate to those specific experiences. Because they’re not quite the same Pause. and they have effects and, and different meanings. Both historically and legally and situationally for the people that experienced them.
00:05:43.000
00:05:43.000
AF
Um, are there any other words that you would prefer to use as opposed to what’s in perhaps mainstream discourse?
SB
I think you know, it can become a little bit onerous when writing to think about words, but they’re really important. I think if I were to go through my book again and suggest new edits for it, I think instead of using persons of Japanese ancestry throughout, or Japanese Canadians or Japanese Americans, I think I would, I might use Canadians of Japanese ancestry or Americans of Japanese ancestry to really underline the fact that the majority of people who were caught up in these horrible policies were born in this country, were born in the United States, and, and were completely just taken up by this disenfranchisement, their dispossession of who they were, their, their you know, many of them their identity as, as people born in North America. Ah, so I, I might do that. In fact I’m working on a, a piece now and so, I think I’m, I’m going to go that route just to, to underline that sense that these were Canadians and Americans born in Canada, just like anybody today, just like myself.
AF
And, any other?
SB
I think, I think that’s about it. I think that the issue of um, phraseology or words that really respect uh, citizenship and sort of identity in some ways are, are I think that’s where I would end. So I think that’s, those are just the terms now that I would sort of rethink going forward. But I do kind of, I really do sense strongly the explanation that yeah Tetsuden Kashima and uh, and Roger Daniels had put forward, you know kind of, distinguishing between those two terms, internment and incarceration, yeah.
AF
Okay, and again what motivated you to write this book?
SB
So, uh it’s kind of a, Laughs. it’s kind of a long route as I, I mentioned to you on the phone. Uh, it began in, in 1991 when I was taking an undergraduate, a first year undergraduate history course at King’s University College, where I now teach. Um and my professor, George Warecki, who’s a good friend now, um was telling us or teaching us about the in- at that time the word was used as internment of the Japanese Canadians. And I was floored, I’d never heard about that before in history, certainly not in grade school. Um, those kinds of things weren’t generally taught in Canadian history classes when I was growing up. Uh, and I was just floored with it, it resonated with me um, at that time and it still does because, my . . . as I mentioned to you, my parents are immigrants to this country. And, my mother came from a part of the, you know, from Europe, Holland where they, you know, were obviously with the allies, Canadians liberated the Dutch and the Dutch were largely welcomed into Canadian society and there weren’t very many issues with the Dutch coming to Canada. My father, who was a displaced person, that’s the terminology that was used in those days, from, from Hungary. From the Austria-Hungarian Empire that had sided with the, the Nazis in the Second World War, so he was viewed as the enemy. And so when he came to Canada, coming from another country, from an enemy country, you know, he had a, a much harder time of it, fitting into Canadian societies. You know, you know the pejorative term, DP, was used in those days. I don’t want to say it’s, it was akin to the term that the Japanese Canadians faced like the term “Jap”, but it was used in, in a similar pejorative kind of sense. And so I made those connections but I also made the connections that how fragile citizenship and belonging is in times of war and, and strife.
00:09:59.000
00:09:59.000
SB
And so the route to belonging that my father had to take versus my mother was quite different. And so I, I thought about those things and how he wasn’t able to do certain things in the town where he’d lived because he was a DP, or a Hun, and that kind of thing. It was really ridiculous in small town 1950s Ontario, but that’s the way it was then I suppose. Uh and so I, I got caught up in thinking about this idea about the place and belonging of Japanese Canadians and persons of Japanese ancestry in Canadian society. And so, as I mentioned to you on the phone I think almost every single research essay that I was able to fit into whatever course I was taking I, I did and, and it would involve some aspect of the war time, policies directed against Japanese Canadians. And then, I decided to do a Master’s for a very odd reason. Mainly because in the mid-90s there was not much opportunity for work as there is now. Laughs. So I decided to go on to my MA and um, I was going to do it on a very, very, very different topic. I’m so glad I didn’t because it was, now that I think about it, it bores me to tears. I won’t even mention what it is, it’s so boring, it’s not worth it. So but then I met, my, who would become my MA supervisor, Jim Walker at the University of Waterloo. And he was teaching, of course then it was called Race Relations, you don’t really offer courses with those names anymore. But um, and it was then that I started to think about a story that my neighbour, I was living in Glencoe, Ontario, a small farming community about an hour west, southwest of London, Ontario. And my neighbour at the time, Ab Gould, who knew that I was interested in Canadian history, told me how Japanese-Canadian men were housed at the fairgrounds in Glencoe, Ontario during the summer of 1942 to work on the sugar beet farms in and around the area. And the farm that my family had purchased and lived on was one of those farms that he would take his Japanese Canadian workers to work and, and pick and work in the sugar beet fields. So this farm that we developed into a blueberry farm was, during the Second World War, land that had sugar beets on it and land where Japanese Canadian men between the ages of 18 and 40 I believe, worked as part of the Ontario farm service force in that summer. And that story, I thought, this is an interesting tale that, that Japanese Canadians were in Southern Ontario, what an interesting kind of study that that would make and encounters between the locals and the so-called enemy because that was the narrative that was used at the time. And so that’s what I decided to do my MA thesis on, the six communities around Southwestern Ontario that were selected as part of the Ontario farm service force to employ single Japanese-Canadian men between the ages of 18 and 35 or 40 on the sugar beet farms, to help out with the war effort, and so I did, I studied that. And yeah, so that’s in actually the Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal, I, I really loved doing that study, and then I took some time off and I decided to go back to do my PhD about a year or so later, something like that. And my PhD supervisor again, Jim Walker, said you know there’s a lot more to, to talk about with this story and I said yeah, I think there is. I’d like to focus on agency because I think that’s important, the issue of agency anyway in the human condition, how we don’t have things done to us, we, we all respond to them. And so he initially suggested what about a study of the, the CCJC Cooperative Committee on Japanese Canadians and I said sure and then I found out that somebody was also doing a, a study of the CCJC, Ross Lambertson out, out West. And so I decided to expand it to do a, a comparative study of the CCJC and the ACLU in the United States. But then expand that to see how different church groups and, civil society groups and other organizations responded, and also organizations of Japanese Canadians and Japanese Americans themselves. So it, you know it, I think it worked out that I was able to do the comparative study. So that’s, that’s kind of the long, very long road and of how I, I came to this study so it began just with the, the simple studies in my undergrad year of just looking at this North, at least what I saw, was an interesting North American phenomenon. Of course we know that similar effects took place in, in South America, um but, and then it progressed to a, a nice localized case study and then something that went to, a comparative study between Canada and the U.S. and, and advocacy and, and protest movements, and civil, and civil society and citizenship and all those kinds of ideas.
00:15:57.000
00:15:57.000
AF
Is your neighbour still um, there . . . ?
SB
Oh . . .
AF
On the farm?
SB
Sadly, no. Ab Gould passed away.
AF
Oh.
SB
Some years ago, which was very, very sad. So no he is not there, no he’s not around anymore. Um, I, Pauses. there are still some people in Glencoe who recall but they are few and far between. But I do still know a few folks. I, for that project, I um, for the local history project, I did interview Yon Shimizu, who is still around. He’s in Wallaceburg, Ontario.
AF
And, could you tell me about the six communities, that you mentioned about the sugar beet farms?
SB
Right, ok. Yeah, so the six communities were of course, Glencoe Ontario, Centralia, Petrolia, Valetta, Chatham, and around Dresden, outside of Dresden. Yep, those were the six communities and they were chosen obviously for their proximity to sugar beet farms. Mostly, the workers were housed in varying places outside of the city limits. So for example, I may say that the men were housed in the Glencoe fairgrounds, which is true. Today those fairgrounds are within the Glencoe city limits. In 1942, they were outside of the city limits. And that was part of the deal with the various municipalities during 1942. The Japanese-Canadian men would not be living within the city, because it was. There were all kinds of fears raised, but the towns themselves are very small municipalities, um numbering you know about, if I was being generous, 1500 persons and less. So small towns, very rural towns, very you know, southern Ontario Anglo kind of towns, not very racially diverse for the most part. Yep, rural, small rural farming communities. I would, of the six that I mentioned, Chatham was easily the largest because it’s been a, a sort of a centre, a municipal centre in government, a government centre for Kent County for, for a long time. I do not know the population of Chatham in 1942, but it would be more than a thousand for sure. Uh, but the other towns were all very small places. A couple of them are interesting and notable for their race relations I guess if we use that term, placement in Canadian history. So for example, Chatham and Dresden are very interesting for their early, 19th century, black population. And as being sort of stops on the so-called Underground Railroad. Dresden of course is the site of a, Uncle Tom’s cabin. Chatham is also known for its placement with respect to First Nations land reserves, and so a couple of these places had quite lengthy histories of, con, both conflict and contact with racialized minorities.
00:20:15.000
00:20:15.000
AF
And, um when did your parents purchase their farm?
SB
Ok, so that farm was purchased in 19-, I think 1984 or 85, one of those two years. And so, we moved out there from the city of London, to be in a farming community and to start a blueberry farm. Laughs.
AF
Okay so going back, why are you interested in the time period and the experiences of Japanese Canadians’ incarceration?
SB
Uh, so well um, I guess, in I guess in general the, I’m interested in the time period and of course the incarceration period, for you know, the, the fact that there was this large scale, rounding up of a whole population, just so simply for the virtue of their racial backgrounds. And, and you know, the fact that it wasn’t done to the same extent to other communities in Canada and in the United States, who were all so, so-called enemies, you know, fighting on the other side during World War II. I mean, of course the, the Italians were, were wrapped up in this as well and Germans were wrapped up in this as well in Canada. But, but not a whole scale just complete dispossession of individuals on the basis of their, their racial backgrounds. Men, women, children, it was just astounding to me that, that this happened to a whole group of people for no apparent reason other than they were of Japanese ancestry. So that did not happen to the Italians, did not happen to the Germans, it’s terrible that they were interned in those communities but the extent and the enormity and the appalling nature of what happened to persons of Japanese ancestry has to stand out above all of those other internments. And those were internments, as opposed to the wholesale incarceration of men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry. So that, and the fact that the story um, like it had been told in a number of studies, Ken Adachi, you know, Ann Gomer Sunahara’s, um but uh the, the protest element to it, the agency element to it, I thought needed to be explored. So as to encourage people, scholars to think about you know, the, the non-victim that, that these, these things were done to persons of Japanese ancestry, and of course there is that famous term that everybody uses, uh shigata ga nai, you know, it cannot be helped. A lot of people felt that way, but there were people that didn’t and so I think it’s important to show that the community wasn’t silent and that they had supporters from outside of the, the community and, and I really wanted, that’s why I really wanted to tell that, that nature of the story. And that was the ultimate end to the book project. The other aspects of course, that I wanted to do was, I thought the, the um farms sites with the OFSF was, was a really interesting story of, of both local history but contact between different groups, and how that played out and in small town southwestern Ontario.
00:24:15.000
00:24:15.000
AF
Through your research about the Co-operative Committee on Japanese Canadians, have you interviewed anyone related to any of the organizations?
SB
Um, not so much. Let me just see, I’m trying to remember a couple of them that I did. Not in any sense of significance. No, I think if I recall, a lot of the materials that were available to me were already in oral history collections, so there was one I actually received through happenstance from a friend of mine at Waterloo, Wes Fujiwara, and then there was an interview with George Tanaka that I used from the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. So no, I did not do a lot of, or I did not do any personal interviews for that specific project. Some of the major players on both sides of the border in terms of the non-Japanese Canadian group were long since dead. So, I did not get a chance to interview them, no.
AF
Could you tell me about your academic background - where did you go to school, what did you study?
SB
Ok, so um, so I went to for my undergrad was at King’s University College at, at that time it was called University of Western Ontario. Now it’s called Western University, so I went there to do my honours degree in history with a minor in French. And uh, then I did my Master’s in history at the University of Waterloo. And then I stayed on or I would eventually continue to do my doctorate there, also in history at the University of Waterloo. I completed the PhD in 2003. It seems like yesterday, I still remember being in that room. Those things never leave you. Laughs. I still remember the sense that I felt too, being in that room. Those things never leave you. Laughs.
AF
And you didn’t do a postdoc?
SB
No, I did not do a postdoc. Laughs. Well one of the years that I was doing my PhD, actually the reason why I lived in Princeton, New Jersey was I got a Fulbright to spend time and do some research in the U.S., which was completely invaluable. I would not have been able to afford that on my own. And so I am always grateful to the Fulbright program so that I was able to go to Princeton for the year to work in their public policy archives where their massive collection of the ACLU papers is housed. Then I was able to, you know, hop to New York City to Columbia, they had a beautiful collection of a variety of organizations that were involved. Same thing, I would hop down to Philadelphia to look at largely the church, the Protestant group organizations that were involved as well. So that was so invaluable to the study. I’ve often wished that I was able to go over to California, there are a number of really great collections there, then there was another in Minnesota. But you know, you only have enough money to go around and, and time, and so if I were to do the book as well, I would add those kinds of aspects to it. But other people have since written things that, that add on to this, the discussion of protest that that’s fine. So no I didn’t go on to do a postdoc, I immediately got a limited term appointment at the University of Guelph for two years and then I went on to my permanent position at King’s. So the position at Guelph started at 2004 and ended in 2006. Then I was on at King’s in 2006. So I felt very lucky, I did not have to worry too, too much, sort of. There’s always worry. Laughs.
00:29:20.000
00:29:20.000
AF
Can you tell me about the community where you grew up? Was there a strong Japanese-Canadian community?
SB
Huh. No, no not really. Not in London, as far as I recall when I was spending my first years there. Certainly not in Glencoe, Ontario. The only, I guess, exposure to the Japanese community that I, I had, was a very, very tangential connection and that was with Betty Simpson in Glencoe, Ontario. She was the head of the historical committee of Glencoe, I forget, or the Glencoe Historical Society. And her friend was Midge Ayukawa, they were very, very close friends. And so she told me about Midge’s work and I think sometimes Betty sort of nudged me along, or asked at various times about my interest in the, in that wartime period. But otherwise, no, um, not really a, I would not say that I had a significant exposure to the Japanese-Canadian community. Growing up or certainly in London, or certainly in at Western or even at Waterloo, I think um, yeah my exposure was through scholarly works, through the studies, through anybody else that I knew that was working sort of in, in the field as well and keeping in touch with those people.
AF
Um, and what about people of other backgrounds? Or did various ethnic groups mix together?
SB
Oh, uh well um. So I suppose that’s kind of an interesting question. Um, I guess I was raised in a home where we maintained the culture of my parents’ backgrounds, so Dutch and Hungarian. They are very, very, very different backgrounds, even though you know, it’s in Europe. So there was always that sensitivity, my brother and I, we had the choice of learning the, one of the languages. We both chose Dutch. Laughs. We felt it would be more useful than Hungarian, but not really sure why either one is useful, but anyway, that’s what we chose. I, sort of, I keep the many traditions of my dual background here in, in my home and in just in my life. In terms of being, well London, you know it’s kind of an interesting place, it’s very Anglo but it is also diverse, so growing up, most of my friends were of, I suppose non-Anglo backgrounds. My friends were all, I guess either kids of immigrants or were immigrants themselves so, um yeah growing up my, my best friend was a kid of Italian immigrants and in high school my friends, my best friends were of South Asian immigrants. Actually one of them, she was born in England, so but of South Asian descent. Um yeah, and I guess there was always that kind of mixing in my life, in grade school whenever there were kids coming I would remember we had, this was after the Lebanese civil war in the early 80s, um one of my, I made a new best friend, she was a sort of a refugee from Lebanon, so that was. I made friends with Rida, we are still friends to this day. Uh yeah, I, I guess I’ve always been friends with, I don’t, other ethnics of some sort. Yeah, um, yeah I guess so. I never really think about that Laughs. but okay.
AF
Um, so your childhood home was in London, and then you moved to the farming area? And how long did you spend in London?
SB
Yes, to the farming community. So um, so the childhood home was in London from you know, birth to 11 years old? Something like that, and then from 12 we moved out into the country and um, I was there until I moved out and went to uh Waterloo. So 22? So maybe I personally lived out in the country for another decade-ish, I’m very bad at math. Um Laughs. so trying to calculate that. So I think yeah, so um yeah, roughly in the, in the rural community until I went off and did my master’s at Waterloo. So I think that was around 22 to 23, something like that.
00:34:30.000
00:34:30.000
AF
And did you notice a difference when you moved out to the farming community?
SB
Oh yes, it was very different. It was, uh well there were a lot of Dutch people out in the farming community, you know. But it was a, um it was hmm, it was very homogeneous like Glencoe’s a small farming community. It’s named after the Glencoe in Scotland and it’s famous for a big massacre during some stuff that happened in British history for which I’m not very well versed in, uh anyway. That town was interesting, you know largely for its dynamics of who was in and who was out, so as new people we came from the city, we weren’t farmers, my father was a lawyer, he’s still a practicing lawyer. Um, so we were city slickers, we also weren’t uh Anglos, you know, we didn’t come from Scotland or Ireland or England, so that was kind of novel for the community as well. And um, and so they you know, I think there was a little, a lot of skepticism for a long time but you make your way into the community by having to, I think I mentioned that many of my jobs were farm jobs for a long time. So you come to get the, I guess the admiration for, for your hard work, I suppose. A lot of the farm jobs I did were very, very hard work. So you did that and finally people would accept you, I suppose. Um, oh boy that, yeah that was a very interesting town for, for people who, who were new and I remember there was one black family that moved into Glencoe and they did not stay very long. I did not know them, they went to the public school, the kids went to the public school and I went to the separate school. Um, and then eventually I went to the Catholic high school in London, I didn’t go to the local public high school in Glencoe, so I didn’t come to know the kids. But I knew that they did not stay very long in Glencoe. I don’t think that that was a very welcoming place for people who were visibly different. I don’t recognize, I don’t recall seeing very many visibly different people in that town. Um, and certainly newcomers were all treated with lengthy skepticism.
AF
And now, do you have any Japanese-Canadian friends?
SB
Um, no, no Japanese-Canadian friends. No, I have, I have many Asian friends. No Japanese-Canadian friends, no, no. Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese, no, no Japanese-Canadian friends. It’s kind of interesting, well you know it is a community that um, has done a significant amount of intermarriage in Canadian society. Shockingly, interestingly so. Based on all of the interesting sociological work that’s been done. Yep.
AF
And, can you describe whether you identified with a particular ethnicity in your early life?
SB
Um, hmm. Well, that’s a great question. Uh, well you know I would say that obviously I’m Canadian, but of you know, this mixed Dutch-Hungarian background. I do identify strongly with that, it was what I was raised with around the dinner table and with family gatherings and with food and culture and traditions. Um, yeah and I, I think it’s, I have this last name that’s Bangarth that people think is very Anglo, but it, which I guess it sounds as if it is, but it’s Anglo from very, very long time back but anyways. So I do identify with those um, that European kind of background that my parents brought and they met in Canada. It’s kind of a really typically kind of Canadian pairing, you wouldn’t see that too, too often in, in Europe of the 1960s.
00:39:26.000
00:39:26.000
SB
People just couldn’t travel that way, certainly Hungarians couldn’t travel that way into Europe, that was not allowed of course. Um, so yeah I would, it’s a long winded kind of answer, that you know a Canadian of dual Dutch and Hungarian ancestry which, you know, that’s my outlook on things and in a way, that perhaps, it’s reflective of people with other kinds of dual ethnic backgrounds. I wouldn’t say it’s at all even similar to anybody with a, a racialized background at all but it’s that sense of, I think everybody shares a cultural kind of affiliation, so that’s what I might say.
AF
And um, what did your family do to celebrate your background?
SB
Ok, um well. We always, well you know, it’s largely around food. Um, I suppose, Christmas time is always something where there’s the, the Hungarian foods and traditions that are brought out. Um, the Christmas tree is kind of a bizarre sight in our family because it has the usual kinds of ornaments one might find on a kind of Christmas tree, but then Hungarians add something called szaloncukor, which is a candy that is wrapped, and it’s hard to describe but it’s really beautiful. And you hang that on the tree, and the Dutch hang chocolate. So that was our kind of bizarre tree growing up, and I still do that to this day. I have the szaloncukor, and it’s the foods as well, um a lot of the Dutch have really well known cuisine at all. The Dutch cuisine is actually only decent when it’s the Indonesian part that’s added to it. Which is of course, based on colonialism but the, the Hungarian cuisine is really something fantastic. So I’m always doing something even to this day, Hungarian cooking or baking and that sort of thing. Some of the Dutch, old style Dutch stuff like soups, and things like that, and then uh, other kinds of things, well you know. There’s all kinds of little Dutch things in the house, the Delft things and the uh, Hungarians have a great tradition of needlework I suppose, I still do some of that from time to time. Um, and gardening, um I guess the Dutch are very known for flowers and gardens and I do a lot of that. Hungarians are known for growing things that they can eat Laughs. so I also have a vegetable garden. So I suppose all of those kinds of influences play out in general, in different celebrations and in ways small and basic in daily life.
AF
And could you just spell that word in Hungarian, um, about hanging on the . . . ?
SB
Oh god, I’ll try to, I’ll try. I’ll get it wrong. S, o, l, o, n, s, z, u, k, o, r. I’m pretty sure that first part is wrong. I think the last part is right.
AF
I’ll, I’ll try to find that.
SB
Something like that. Hungarian candies on a tree, szaloncukor. Oh yeah. I know how it’s said, I don’t know. I know some Hungarian, not a lot. It’s a very difficult language and um, I don’t know that it’s necessary for me to learn.
AF
Um, and do you know of your family’s relationship to the Japanese Canadians or the community?
SB
Oh, actually that’s kind of interesting. Um, so when my mother and her family first came to Canada from Holland, uh they were um, under the, you know, the Farm Worker’s agreement. So where they landed, other than of course, at Pier 21 in Halifax, they went on to out west to Alberta, to southern Alberta. And one of the very first farms that they worked on was actually owned by a Japanese Canadian in southern Alberta in, on the outskirts of Picture Butte, Alberta. And these Japanese Canadians actually had a sugar beet farm and my mother’s family was, I don’t know, oh I can’t remember if they were sponsored by this Japanese Canadian family or that they were contracted to work for them, I think it was the latter.
00:45:03.000
00:45:03.000
SB
So I guess that’s, that’s actually something that jogged my memory. Thanks for asking. So I guess my, my mother’s first exposure to some Canadians was Japanese Canadians on that sugar beet farm in southern, in southern Alberta. And as she came to Canada, she was aged, I want to say nine or 11 and she, she still went to a bit of grade school but most everybody had to work. So her job was actually picking out the rocks in the sugar beet fields for this, for this family. And um, and her sisters also had to work the sugar beets, topping them, and doing all that kind of work. So I remember when I was actually doing that project on the sugar beet farms, um my own local study for my Master’s. I actually called up one of my aunts to ask her what it felt like doing that kind of backbreaking labour, to explain to me what that felt like. Because you know, I wanted to get a sense of that, because a lot of the men that were coming out from BC to work on these farms in southern Ontario were not farm labourers, you know, some of them were students, some of them were business owners, and so that kind of labour would have been entirely foreign to them. As it was to my aunt, coming from Holland they were, my grandfather was a milkman, and you know they were children, so they weren’t used to stooping over and working in some big huge farm, that just wasn’t something that was their lifestyle in Holland. So, so yeah I guess the earliest connection some member of my family had with Japanese Canadians was in the early fifties outside of Picture Butte, Alberta with my mother’s Dutch family all nine-ish of them. Um, employed on this sugar beet farm for a time, and then of course they were employed on other farms later on. Before they made their way back to Ontario, or actually not back to Ontario, before they made their way to Ontario, they were never initially in Ontario. I can’t remember how long they stayed out in Alberta. Someday, I really have to ask my mother for all of this. I don’t think it was for very long. It would’ve been less than five years and I don’t recall how long they would’ve spent on that uh, farm with the uh, Japanese-Canadian family.
AF
And um, what did your aunt say about working on the sugar beet farm?
SB
Oh, that it was tough. It was very tough work, like that back breaking, with the sun beating down on your back, stooping down all day long and she said that even though she was a child, so lower to the ground right, it was not easy. And so she said it was really tough for a kid to do that job and, and uh some of them were just something that was completely foreign to her. And I was, yeah, and as I said, I always kept that in mind as I was thinking about, you know, how people from the West coast, the beautiful, lush West coast would’ve come out to southern Ontario, which was rather flat agricultural, the sun would have been beating on their backs in the same way as they went through the dry fields picking out the rocks, topping off the sugar beets, all of that kind, and harvesting the beets and what not. It was, a yeah, very tough farm manual labour job, yeah.
AF
And were there any other um, connections with your family and the Japanese-Canadian community?
SB
Uh, I don’t, I don’t really think so. Um, there wasn’t as far as I know, a very large Japanese community in London, Ontario um, and uh no. So I, I don’t think so. Um, no think that will be it, yep.
00:49:46.000
00:49:46.000
AF
Uh, so um, from what you know, why do you think Canadians were silent during the uprooting and dispossession of Japanese Canadians, but opposed their deportation?
SB
Um, well uh I think at least as far as I’ve come to understand it, Canadians, many Canadians felt it was a good thing for the population of persons of Japanese ancestry to be dispersed across the country, um to sort of mix in and assimilate, and I’m using those terms with quotes, that’s the parlance of the day, that’s how people rationalized it. So, and I think you know, there were significant numbers of social science studies that supported that viewpoint at the time, but what it came down to was this idea of deporting them, oh! That reminds of me another word I like to use, the word expatriation as opposed to deportation. I forgot to mention that in your earlier question, because that’s significant as well. You can’t be deported to a country where you’ve never lived, right. I’m so sorry I forgot to mention that, Alicia. It just slipped my mind. So, I think when you know, there was an outcry against this expatriation policy because you know, Canadians, some concerned Canadians started to realize, you know our government was really going too far here and it’s just against, and they did start to say it’s against this, people’s human rights and Canadian values and British sense of justice and fair play to send people to a country where they’ve never lived. And I think, you know this idea of entire families being sent for doing nothing other than being of Japanese ancestry and so, I think that’s what aroused the sense of injustice of many Canadians to oppose their government at the time and to write in countless numbers of letters to William Lyon Mackenzie King, the prime minister of the day, and other politicians who were active in that. Um, so I think that that’s what the real crux was, this notion of just the policy being taken way too far beyond the comfort zone, I suppose, which is horrible to say of what Canadians would supposedly tolerate at that time. Um, you would hope today that people would have a very different approach but sadly, we can see that it’s not fully the case. Um, but anyways so this notion of expatriation I think really scared a lot of Canadians especially since there were Canadians of all different kinds of ancestries and backgrounds in Canada at the time. And so people I think could realize if this happens to one group, it could happen to others. And that’s, as I found in the literature of the time, a common theme if not for one, then what about for the rest of us? And so you did start to see more and more Canadians of different backgrounds supporting persons of Japanese ancestry.
AF
And going back to the content of your book, why do you think the Canadian government created the Custodian of Enemy Property while the U.S. government did not?
SB
Huh. Yeah, that’s um, that’s an interesting question and I think it speaks to notions of property rights in both countries. Um, you know property rights are enshrined in the American constitution and that’s just a distance that constitutionally that the American government couldn’t go. Although there were Sarcastic chuckle. there were ways to get around dispossessing Japanese Americans of their property. Absolutely, so many Japanese Americans lost custody of their farms for a song, states created their own pieces of legislation that were entirely injust, the Enemy Alien Property Loss in California for example. So you know, at the broader spectrum, at the federal level it’s not something that the American government could do easily by virtue of the American constitution. But there were so many ways that the individual states and even counties got away with completely stealing from Japanese Americans.
00:55:07.000
00:55:07.000
SB
Um, in Canada of course, we don’t have constitutionally protected, at the time, property loss. Um, and so that could be done. Um, I also think that, there’s kind of a, I think there was a bit more punitive element to the Canadian situation. And I think that harkens back to this British sort of sense of justice and fair play, and I’m putting that in quotes. That you know, if you are a ward of the government, that you know, and you are kind of this enemy group, you also gotta pay your own way, that the state shouldn’t be taking care of you and so in order to fund all of these different sites and incarceration and all of these different policies, uh I think that the, the government employed this kind of pay as you go program to pay for the, and I’m going to use that word, internment camps. So that it wasn’t seen as something that was costing Canadians money, I mean when I did my own research for the work camps in southern Ontario, I was struck by this one quote. Um, from a government official who stated that the camps were to be entirely self-funded and something and there was a quote to the effect that we have to spend at least x amount of money on food so that we don’t encourage or incur the costs of burial due to malnutrition. That quote is in my article, I have to keep that in there, you know. To think about that, just to think that we have to make sure we fund this enough so that we don’t incur the costs of burial due to malnutrition. That is horrible. Absolutely appalling. And so I do think that there’s a far more punitive element to the way that the Canadian policies just kept moving and inching forward to really completely unjust and inhumane policies. I mean, the incarceration was completely unjust and inhumane but then to think about adding dispossession on top of that, and expatriation. Uh, as historians we’re trained not to judge the past by the present. And I don’t do that because, as my book and my research and other people’s research indicates, there were Canadians who were appalled with this. So we’re not judging the past by the present. In that present, there were people who were angry with these policies and said something, organized something, wrote something.
AF
Um, now given the impact that the Bill of Rights had in limiting the extent of um, the government policies against Japanese Americans, in your opinion, would the Charter of Rights and Freedoms be enough to prevent um, the incarceration, the property seizure, and the expatriation of Japanese Canadians if it were to happen today?
SB
Yes, the Charter in and of itself would be enough however, the government, the federal government can still pass laws that are unjust, that can only be overturned, obviously by this wonderful Supreme Court that we currently have, although for how much longer, who knows if there is a Charter challenge. It is perhaps possible, I think that something similar could happen, could be put in place until such time as a Charter challenge is launched. I think the current Bill C51 is a beautiful example of a law that fundamentally, one hundred percent contravenes the Charter, all you need is a Charter challenge but that law has been passed, it is now on the books to dispossess Canadians of dual citizenship of their belonging in Canada. It’s just unbelievable to me. Technically we also do have the War Measures Act on the books, and so in light of that, and in light of the other laws that have been passed in the aftermath of 9/11, I think it is, it’s entirely possible. I would hope that there would be much more vocal, numerous, and perhaps even significantly civil obedience protests than there were in World War II. But legally, yes I think that it could happen when we have a government majority that wishes to pass this type of law, yes. The Charter does protect us but only insofar as we launch a legal challenge.
AF
So . . .
SB
So it has, it has, I’d like to say it has you know, teeth and nails but we need to sort of kick it Laughs. to get those feelings going.
01:00:57.000
01:00:57.000
AF
Alright, so I know this came up before, but I will ask um, more explicitly, what are your personal thoughts and feelings about the incarceration of Japanese Canadians?
SB
Oh Laughs., alright well I have very strong feelings that um, this was just against wholesale human rights, completely unjust, completely un-Canadian. And something that needs to continually be taught and reinforced in every way shape that’s possible in, in education, in popular education, popular commemoration, popular memory. Um and I, you know it’s such an important, significant event in Canadian history, Canadian society that we need to never forget. And, and it’s so important, so important for the, I like to say that the, it has a kind of a dual importance obviously for the negative aspect on our history, but also for the positive aspect. Um, I suppose I like to, I’m an inherently positive person so I’d like to look at this idea that my book raises and other things that I’ve written raised, that people did protest. That not everybody accepted the injustices and so I’d like to think that in civil society, there’s going to be that cohort, one wishes it was larger and more engaged, but that there is that cohort to go forward in opposing injustice. Whether it’s at the hands of government or an organization or any other kind of venue, so I, it’s something that I always incorporate and teach in all of my courses, no matter where I can fit it in and I get criticized every single year in my second year course. It’s not just the incarceration that I teach, but also about other issues in Canadian history related to human rights and social justice issues and in one of the evaluations of my second year Canadian history survey, I always get without fail at least one person writing, “Why do you only tell us the bad stories in Canadian history?” And as long as I keep getting that comment, I know to teach not just what I’m teaching that year, but to add more because, you know we need to get that message through that we need to, to learn from the past. And for people to be aware that what’s even happening today in many ways, it’s history repeating itself and it’s completely shocking and distressing to me as a historian to see how far we’ve come for a time and now how we’re cycling back to that sense that we’re in constant state of crisis and vigilance, and we need to have an enemy, we need to have an Other and here’s a racialized Other for us to focus on. Today it’s very significantly the, you know, Muslim Canadians and, and certainly black Canadians have their own shares as we can see with the carding issue in Toronto. I’m just glad to see that there’s a Charter challenge being launched. I’ve been trying to find, is there some place where I can donate money to, to help fund this campaign? I would be completely happy to do that.
01:04:33.000
01:04:33.000
AF
And, what were the thoughts of your family, um about the, um about Japanese-Canadian incarceration?
SB
Hmm. That’s, that’s interesting. Um, I think when they found out that I was writing about this, um yeah they were, they were interested. Um, I think my mother knew about the story, just in a very basic sense by working on the, the farm in the early 1950s as a new Canadian. Not too much, because of course she didn’t speak a lot of English then, but you know, came to understand some of that as she did learn in English. My father who is a, who is a lawyer, gave me quite a bit of assistance in understanding the legal jargon with the, with the legal cases. And so I think family members were, were quite interested in that I would, and I don’t know, not pick on this aspect of the history, but I don’t think they were surprised with respect to the interest in citizenship and um, and that kind of element and belonging in Canadian society since both of them had two very different approaches and experiences in early belonging in Canadian society. Now of course it’s really nothing but you know, in that early stage in their lives, I think it was impactful on them. So no I, I think that when I mentioned I was going to be doing this work they were both interested and very pleased. I know my father’s read the book, my mother skimmed through it. Laughs. And of course, as non-academics they, they both said that’s you know, very nice but it’s a little dense. Laughs. Which is fine, I agree.
AF
Ok, um what do you think are the best ways to tell the story of Japanese Canadian property loss?
SB
Well, um, you know there’s, that’s you know the, the loss of property is such a personal thing, right? Um, because as humans we own things, Phone rings in background. we collect things, it’s very important to us. Um, and so I think there’s a number of really great ways to demonstrate that but ultimately it has to be humanized, so people can connect with that. You know, it’s enough to say, oh here’s a person who lost $32,000 or here’s somebody who lost their farm, but I think we need to really, in order to tell that story, I think especially not just to you know, children who are, who respond very well to that kind of an approach but to you know, Canadians um, I think there’s some aspects in popular culture that have done a really interesting approach, but are not well known. There’s this song, and I forget who sings, his name, but it’s called Kiri’s Piano, James Kellaghan. You know, that’s a beautiful song about how meaningful this piano was to the life and culture of this Japanese-Canadian girl, who lost it all, obviously during the dispossession. I think things like that, to humanize the dispossession. Um and then of course, to really focus on the fundamental violation of human rights and taking away property for no good reason was really just fundamentally against you know, I guess, yeah human rights, Canadian values, whatever those are, um, at any time in Canadian history Pause. and ultimately to identify that for no apparent reason than being of Japanese ancestry. Because I think still today um, I’m always amazed when people say well, you know, they were suspicious. No, no they weren’t, I think in telling that, so try, as well of the dispossession, we need to underline no one was convicted of a crime, no one was charged with a crime, the RCMP - all of the data at the time, counseled against the need for both the incarceration and of course, you wouldn’t need to dispossess people of their property if you didn’t incarcerate them. So there’s no evidence at the day, of the day, to provide the basis for any of these policies.
01:10:14.000
01:10:14.000
SB
So we need to underline that as well, significantly, that this was completely one hundred percent wrong. I remember giving a talk, this was some time ago, it was at a Mackenzie King conference, it was at Waterloo, actually, it was St. Jerome’s at Waterloo. John English had organized it, he’s a noted Canadian political historian, and I was giving a talk on my research at the time. And it was a varied audience of people of different backgrounds from the community, and there was one gentleman who was a military person. And um, one of the statements he really felt the need to make in that audience was to say, to underline to me, the sense of fear that non-Japanese had on the West coast of a Japanese attack. He said we were fearful of that, you have to know that we were fearful of that and this is, as he said, he said why the internment needed to be done, and he also, what else did he mention, too? And he said, you know also, he raised that old, that spectre that I’m sure everybody has heard at one point or another, that the Japanese held our boys, right, in Hong Kong, you know, prisoner. So it was kind of a quid pro quo. I find both of those statements completely appalling and incongruous. Even of the day, of course there were Canadians at the time that said well they have our prisoners, we should hold them hostage, well you know that’s not even at the same time, we’re not even talking about apples to apples in terms of the dates here, whatsoever. So, we need to continue this education of also the timeline of how things happened. Hong Kong took place at a very different time than the incarceration and the dispossession of Japanese Canadians. So that timeline is, it’s completely fractious and inaccurate when people raise that as well. And the fear issue, you know, why weren’t you afraid of the Germans, or the Italians? Why? Well, we all know why, because of the racism at the time. And we need to accept that, why are people afraid of women in burkhas and and that sort of thing, and why are we so obsessed now with people showing their face at a polling station? Or for the citizenship ceremony or whatever, why? Is it because of something inherent about them or is it our fear? It’s ridiculous. So um, yeah I’ve come across that at varying points in my career, where people talk about whole fear, Shimura, you know, where some people are scholars who I think ought to know better, who you know kind of say that at least, of all the policies the internment/incarceration was justified. No. None of it was. And that’s not historical presentism. So I think that’s a very long winded way of I guess, identifying some ways of how to tell the story of dispossession because it’s not just of dispossession, it’s that whole broad failings of the policies that are wrapped together that, that to um single out one versus the other, they’re all interconnected. I think that’s it. Laughs.
AF
And, what are some ways, that your family has passed on this story, perhaps of incarceration or the uprooting of Japanese Canadians? Was it something that you talked about?
SB
Uh, it wasn’t a, yeah, no I think from time to time I would discuss some aspects of my research with them but not um . . . Not too much, I think again um, my mother would just really mostly talk about how kindly they were treated, her family was treated by the Japanese-Canadian family when they first came to Canada. And in terms of the history itself, um you know as, since my parents were immigrants, they really, they weren’t in Canada at that time so they don’t really have a specific recollection or kind of touch point for that as, as if I were to speak with somebody of their same age as them who were living in Canada at the time. Uh, so they don’t have that sense as a historical touch point for them, so I can only engage with them about it in terms of my mother’s relationship with the Japanese-Canadian family on the farm when they first came to Canada. And with my father, in largely kind of a, a legal sense of interpreting the cases, of understanding the cases, and then with both of them just speaking in broad terms about the citizenship issues and repercussions, and what it means to be Canadian, and for them how they identify with Japanese Canadians in terms of what it means to be Canadian, and what Otherization feels like. For my mom, very basic not too extensive, for my dad, a little bit more, and then of course for Japanese Canadians, that premises of Otherization had just life altering effects and societal altering effects, cultural altering effects, yeah.
01:16:30.000
01:16:30.000
AF
And um, I saw that you did teach about um, social history and justice in your courses.
SB
Yep.
AF
And how do you include the Japanese-Canadian incarceration and uprooting in your courses?
SB
Ok, well that’s, that’s in all of my courses. So in the Canadian history survey that I do, you know of course it’s there, we talk about the Second World War on the home front. And I always make sure to talk about both the injustice of the policies, how it was 100% wrong, and I did tell my students that I can’t really accept any arguments other than it was wrong. I’m very upfront with them about that and that they need to know that oh, I hate to say this but there isn’t another answer. I think you know it’s, but there really isn’t. So I’m very upfront with that, and as I mentioned I also teach about the, there was you know, the books that the Voices Raised in Protest, I teach about the dispossession in the second year survey. You know I play James Kellaghan’s song just to get them that. I have them, you know read letters, Muriel Kitagawa’s letters for example. Uh, in my social history course um, again I may use the example of um, you know social history using kind of materials from people as they experience their histories. So again I may use the multimedia stuff with music of how that impacted people. Letters, I’m also working on a project right now on the um, newspaper columns that women wrote in the Nikkei Press of North America. So in my Canadian social history class I would use those letters, or those articles in the New Canadian where women wrote about you know, how to make things bright and cheery for your family, how to, recipes for wartime deprivation, and then Muriel Kitagawa’s letters or Sue Sata’s letters and the columns about the injustice of the internment period and what life was like in the you know, relocation and beyond BC So I try and get them to as social historians to get the history from the ground up, from the people who experience it. Uh, and then in my social movement courses, I have another course at the second year level on rights in North America. So I teach that in a comparative approach of the different rights that were affected. And on both sides of the border and what that meant in the internment and dispossession and in Canada, the expatriation what that meant in both countries, and the different rights frameworks under which those policies were brought into play. And of course, I also teach about protest because you can’t have issues about rights without talking about how people protest them, that would be dishonest to do that.
01:20:08.000
01:20:08.000
SB
Uh and then in a third year course on Canadian social movements on movers and shakers I do much the same thing as that second year course, only focusing more on um, on the Canadian situation. And again, from that vantage point of the short course title is called Movers and Shakers so I highlight some of the individuals who were involved and their protest strategies. So that course, the Movers and Shakers third year course is all about getting my young historians, to think about ways that people have protested in history, the strategies that they used, and even if they never go on into history, as you know graduate students, hope that in their daily lives they think about ways of agency and empowerment and protest and employ that in their daily lives in whatever shape or form that takes. Whether they see injustice or something incorrect or if there’s something lacking in their organization or job or community or volunteer experience, that maybe they might remember a bit of a kernel of what was taught perhaps with respect to the um, incarceration and deportation or expatriation, all of that and employ that maybe, something might be recalled and go, oh this is unjust, I kind of remember how this court case went or I remember what people said, I remember the tactics and the strategies they used. Maybe, just maybe people will use that in their everyday lives, and recall that history and use it in a different form, but ultimately for the same goal to improve something or to counter something that’s wrong and unjust and negative. It’s very hopeful Laughs., I don’t know how often it happens but anyway.
AF
Um, and what do you think younger generations know about the incarceration and how do you think they learn about the incarceration and uprooting?
SB
So what I’ve come to understand from my students is that it’s varied. So it depends a lot on the school and the teacher, certainly in the, their history classes that they take in high school. Perhaps even in junior, primary school. So, some of them come with basic knowledge about the wartime experiences of persons of Japanese ancestry, some of them come with intermediate levels of knowledge. Um, very rarely do some come with significant levels of knowledge. I would say that the majority come with the basic storyline. Disturbingly I think some of them come with that basic storyline but that storyline is infused with that narrative of fear and um, that storyline that you know, the Japanese were our enemies and so this was something that happens in a time of war. So if they are increasingly more aware of this wartime history, um but the narrative that they understand or the basis of their understanding is varied, as I mentioned from basic to slightly advanced. And from the way that that narrative is framed, which is the basics but it also may be the basics underlined with, I think a very inappropriate way of teaching it and that is to say that it was, hey it was war, these things happen. So then my job is to, to completely counter that, and they may not change their minds, and some of them, some of them don’t. You know, there’s always that element that don’t and that’s the way it goes, but I’d like to think that I have a, or at least, the history has, when we can delve into it with greater detail in the university environment, it’s able to influence people in a far more meaningful way that they can see many sides of the story and come to the obvious conclusion that it was completely unjust. Laughs.
01:24:38.000
01:24:38.000
AF
And if you could pass on a message to future generations of Canadians about the Japanese Canadian incarceration, what would that be?
SB
So, I would just say about that, a wartime experience that you know we should a) remember it always because the way that we approach minorities, whoever they are in our society, really reflects on who we are as a larger society. And so it’s important b) to know this wartime history of what happened to persons of Japanese ancestry, but also, that this history, there’s a negative element to the history of how the Canadian state and the Canadian society responded, but there’s also a positive element as well too that people did obviously protest and fight back. I mean, in terms of the dispossession as well, early on there was the Bird Commission and I know, you know the history involved with that, it certainly wasn’t completely adequate or significant, but it would ultimately galvanize the third generation of persons of Japanese ancestry to seek greater restitution in the 1980s. And these sorts of things need to be remembered because, and underlined, the, these positive aspects because, just because something happened in the past and you get restitution so called for it in the 1980s with the apology and subsequent cash, financial compensation, doesn’t mean that it’s over. Um, an apology never means that something’s over, we have to remember the behaviours and the um, steps that got us towards that, cause when you think about the Japanese Canad-, this wartime history, it wasn’t just from 1942 when it, you know, when the policy was enacted and then ultimately ended shamefully in 1949. This, this went on frankly until 1988, so this is, this is very much in our recent, our current history. So, it’s history but it’s very recent, it’s not just wartime, it’s ongoing. So we have to continue to engage with it, so it has three, you know, three elements. Just again, this idea of understanding the wartime period, understanding that it was negative, that there are positive elements to it, and that it’s ongoing, it’s just because there was an apology and some other business doesn’t mean that it’s done and dusted. We’ve learned lessons from the past, as that famous saying goes, and we need to engage with it to ensure that our present situation doesn’t repeat any of that with a new group. And that’s our responsibility as Canadians.
AF
Um, and I guess do you have anything else you would like to add to this conversation that we’ve had?
SB
Well, other than to say I’m, you know, when I heard about the Landscapes of Injustice project, I was really, really pleased to see that this, this story was being taken up again. Because I can’t tell you how many times in the recent past, and over the course of my career when, that I’ve heard people say, well you know that history’s over. Isn’t everything written about it that needs to be written? That is the, one of the worst things ever that I think anyone could ever say about this history. And so, I am delighted, more than delighted to see that people are engaging with it once again because there is a sense that after 1988, you know the apology, it’s done, that phrase I keep using, done and dusted. No, I’m, I’m really excited to see that people are once again engaging with it Phone ringing in background. in a major national way. That employs not just historians, but an interdisciplinary framework so that maybe, now at this stage once the materials come out, and I know, you know that there’s going to be some public history, well I would say public history but public engagements with it, that it’s not just bypassed. That it’s not just viewed as something that is again, just some parts in a book or in a textbook or in a classroom, that it’s meaningful for all Canadians today. There are useful lessons and pieces that we can take from it right now, so I’m excited for that. That, that this material that I’ve been working on in my past and that I’m sort of continually engaging with, you know there was a sense for maybe like the last six or seven years that you know, there’s this, that this history was passé. Um, that we know all that we need to know, and people have said that, scholars that should know better have said that. And boy, are they ever wrong! So way to go Landscapes of Injustice project! Um, really bombard Canadians with information about this. Yeah.
AF
Great, well thank you!
SB
Yeah? Okay. Laughs.
End of Interview. 01:30:50.000

Metadata

Title

Stephanie Bangarth, interviewed by Alicia Fong, 12 June 2015

Abstract

This interview is with Stephanie Bangarth at her home in Cambridge, Ontario on June 12, 2015 for the Landscapes of Injustice Project. Stephanie elaborates about her motivations for her book, Voices Raised in Protest and her passion for social justice issues in Canadian history. Her Master’s thesis involved 6 major farming communities in southwest Ontario that relocated Japanese-Canadian workers from BC Her PhD thesis involved the comparative study of Japanese Canadian or Japanese American efforts to protest government legislation. Her parents bought a farm that historically employed Japanese-Canadian labourers during WWII, and her mother was employed by a Japanese-Canadian family on a sugar beet farm in the 1950s. She is interested in issues surrounding citizenship due to the differing immigrant experiences of her parents, who are of Dutch or Hungarian descent. Stephanie is quite passionate about teaching university students about Canadian history in a way that prepares them to have agency towards injustice.

Credits

Interviewer: Alicia Fong
Interviewee: Stephanie Bangarth
Audio Checker: Nathaniel Hayes
XML Encoder: Nathaniel Hayes
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Cambridge, Ontario
Keywords: Ontario ; protest; agency; sugar beet farms; citizenship; Alberta ; szaloncukor; food; 1940s-present

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.