A classic old political meeting poster I found while I was cleaning out my grandfather’s house after he died. I miss these posters on their fragile yellow paper. Is this done by mimeograph? Three colours of ink: black, green and red. I’m sure it must have been my uncle Bobby’s, and I’m assuming it’s from the late 60s or early 70s. Anyone want to take a guess? I just it again by accident, timely given the NDP wave overtaking the country (please let this mean the end of Stephen Harper).
Larry Nozaki was a well-known Vancouver trade union activist and I think a founder of the Young Socialists. He was an executive member of the Vancouver local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and delegate to the Vancouver and District Labour Council. Japanese-Canadian, he was interned with his family during the war. Interesting background at socialisthistory.ca:
Many West Coast residents remember the imposition of the War Measures Act in 1939 with great bitterness. In particular, Japanese-Canadians remember it as the time when they were forced into concentration camps by the Canadian government.
Shortly after Trudeau imposed the Act against the Québécois, I interviewed Larry Nozaki, a well-known Vancouver trade union activist and member of the League for Socialist Action. With his family, he spent several years in these so-called “interment” camps.
Larry’s grandfather came to Canada in the 1890’s to work on the railroad, and fought in the Canadian army in World War I; his parents were born in Prince Rupert, B.C. But at the beginning of World War II they were allowed only two trunks of clothing and some food as they were torn from their homes.
“All the rest of my grandfather’s possessions were confiscated by the federal government or sold. Some people were able to transfer their property to white friends before they left—my father did that and he got it back when he returned. Many were not so lucky.”
Larry has vivid memories of the “houses” built for the Japanese. “My grandparents lived in two rooms, and all the children slept in tiers, like bunks. The house was a wooden shack made with tarpaper and shingles. We didn’t have to find jobs: we were used to build the Hope-Princeton highway.”
The ability of the government to carry out this mass imprisonment of Canadian citizens depended in large measure on the success of its racist propaganda. Only the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, forerunner of the NDP) fought against the internment.
“The Communist Party didn’t do anything for us. In fact I think they were in favor of the program. They had come to an agreement with the Federal government because of Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. They carried headlines like ‘Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor’ in their paper. This kind of racist line continued through the whole war: at the end they had a great big headline, “A-BOMB KO’S JAPS ! “
Not until 1949 did the Japanese begin to return to the coast.
“The reason most of us came back was that we had one trade and that was fishing. However, many had to fight to begin anew. Some had had their boats confiscated, or had been forced to sell them before being interned. This was just part of the injustice done to a whole race of people by the Canadian government.”
For more on Nozaki’s involvement in the NDP vs COPE conflict over slates for City Council in 1974, see here and search “Larry Nozaki”.