Ellen Crows

There were a lot of different kind of logistics that had to happen to move all these people. So they just took women and children first. They put my mum on the first boat and at this time it was March 1942, so I was three months old she said that she was so traumatized by the fact that she had to leave my dad and be by herself with this little baby that on the boat ride from Tofino to Port Alberni she got seasick. She had a terrible fever. She stopped lactating and couldn’t feed me anymore. So apparently I howled all the way from Port Alberni until the truck took us to Hastings Park. In that time – 36 hours – I had nothing to eat and by the time I got to Hastings Park I was in dire straits. And of course, so was my mother. When they got to Hastings Park, they discovered that it was basically a livestock barn and she couldn’t even put her suitcase on the floor of the barn because it was covered with horse doo doo, cow doo doo, etc. So they put them up on the, I guess there was some bleacher area, so they put them up there.

It was very interesting, when my mum watched Katrina. Remember the shots, the TV shots of Katrina when all the African-Americans were being looked after in the bleachers. She saw that and immediately she had a, I would consider, a kind of emotional reaction because she remembered that that was Hastings Park, she said to me. She had absolutely denied all that… And so she told me all kinds of stories about the people who were at Hastings Park. Basil who was living in Vancouver didn’t have to put up with this stuff because he just had a curfew. The people who were in the park put up with a lot. They stood in line with their metal pie plates to get food. She had me to look after. Where was she going to have clean diapers? She got up at 2:00 in the morning to go to the ladies washroom and wash the diapers with cold water, brought them back up onto the bleacher and dried them during the day. See that story hasn’t been told really.

Interview courtesy of Honouring Our People project of the JCCA