Sicamous fire chief Brett Ogino, Regina Forry, Mayor Terry Rysz, Gordon Mackie with the Sicamous Museum and Tomoaki Fujimura gathered to plant an Akebono cherry tree in the Main Street Landing park on Wednesday, May 20. (Jim Elliot - Eagle Valley News)

Sicamous fire chief Brett Ogino, Regina Forry, Mayor Terry Rysz, Gordon Mackie with the Sicamous Museum and Tomoaki Fujimura gathered to plant an Akebono cherry tree in the Main Street Landing park on Wednesday, May 20. (Jim Elliot - Eagle Valley News)

What’s the good news, 2020? Honouring interned Japanese Canadians

The Eagle Valley News looks back at some of the year’s positive stories

As 2020 draws to a close, the Eagle Valley News is looking back at some of the stories that reflect the positive work, activities and accomplishments that occurred throughout this challenging year.

Local dignitaries and volunteers on projects aimed at drawing attention to the history of interned Japanese Canadians planted a powerful symbol in Sicamous on May 20.

The Akebono cherry tree, planted at the Main Street Landing Park, will bloom in spectacular fashion next spring.

It will also help grow conversation around the unfair treatment suffered by the Japanese Canadians housed in camps along what is now the Trans-Canada Highway corridor. The tree is part of a series of regionwide projects a group of volunteers has been working on to draw attention to the dark chapter in the area’s history.

“The cherry tree symbolizes the shortness of life of humanity and enjoying the moment of the blooms,” said Tomoaki Fujimura, one of the people who has been working on internment camp memorial projects.

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Three Valley Gap already has an Akebono tree, along with a sign explaining the history of the area’s internment camps.

The area between Sicamous and Revelstoke had six internment camps during the Second World War. Fujimura said between 500 and 600 Japanese Canadians lived at the camps and worked on the expansion of the Trans-Canada Highway. He said further historical investigation into the topic is needed to find out exactly who were interned there.

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jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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