Mark Sakamoto: Remembering my grandmother’s 1943 interment among chicken coops and horse manure

National Post | Full Comment

For my grandma, Mitsue Margaret Sakamoto, the Second World War started on Vancouver’s Canadian Pacific Railway station platform at 8 a.m. on a spring morning in 1943.

They were being evacuated. Their entire life had been confiscated and packed up. They showed up with the clothes on their backs and six trunks of blankets and rice. They did not know how long they would be gone — maybe forever. They knew nothing about their final destination. They were afraid, they were sad, they were desperate.

They were Canadian citizens, born in British Columbia. Their only crime was their ethnicity.

Mitsue boarded the eastbound train with her husband, Hideo Sakamoto; her father-in-law, Hanpei Sakamoto; her mother-in-law, Wari Sakamoto; and her sister-in-law, June Sakamoto. Their final destination was Coaldale, Alberta, 10 miles outside Lethbridge. Their first home was a modified chicken coop — the beds were infested, the water source was a…

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