Remembering Japanese Canadians on Remembrance Day 2016
The bugle sounds with the familiar first notes of the Last Post. It pulls me deep into Remembrance Day and the two minutes of silence at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. I thought I learned history in school, but so much is missing. I did not learn that over 220 Japanese Canadian volunteers tried to enlist, but after being rejected in British Columbia they went to Alberta and were accepted in 1916. Some of the volunteers served with the Fighting Tenth Battalion who had a role in the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.
After the ceremony at the memorial, most of us gathered at the Stanley Park Pavilion for a reception. I was surprised and pleased to see a photo and mention of my uncle Buck (T. Buck Suzuki) as part of the display. He offered to serve in World War II as did other Japanese Canadians even though 22,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry were forcibly uprooted, dispossessed, and incarcerated. I heard my uncle’s story from my cousins. My uncle was refused by the Canadian army, accepted by the British army and then considered on loan from the Canadian army. He was one of two Nisei (second generation) sergeants and he worked for MI6 while others worked for S20. So many stories aren’t known and it makes the annual Remembrance Day events even more significant. We must learn and remember.