Parks Canada Plaque
In 1984, the internment was acknowledged as a significant national event by the Parks Canada Historic Sites and Monuments Board. Unfortunately, when the plaque was ready to be installed in 1987, the PNE rejected putting the monument onto the grounds. Instead, after much debate, Alderman Bruce Eriksen proposed to Vancouver City Council that the plaque be placed on city property near the corner of Hastings and Renfrew. In 1989, the plaque was finally unveiled. This plaque was later moved to a spot within the Momiji Gardens but was difficult to see. In 2012, this important monument was moved to a more visible location on the edge of Momiji Gardens.
The plaque reads:
Japanese Canadian Internment
In 1942, wartime politics brought to a head mounting discrimination against some 22,000 innocent people of Japanese ancestry on this coast. Their properties were confiscated and sold without consent, and they were forcibly dispersed to internment camps in the B.C. interior and to farms in Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario. From March to November, 8,000 men, women and children were confined in livestock barns on these grounds before being relocated. Few voices opposed a federal government policy which denied civil liberties to Japanese Canadians until April 1, 1949 - the day they were finally free to return to the coast.
The Momiji Gardens, located on the south side of the Garden Auditorium building, along East Hastings Street, were completed in 1993. The Vancouver Japanese Gardener’s Association contributed $65,000 in free labour to design and implement the plan. The overall cost of the garden development was $300,000 with half coming from the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation.
The garden was meant as a type of apology. The Parks Board, the PNE and the Japanese-Canadian community agreed that this was an appropriate site for a garden to commemorate the 8000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry who were detained within Hastings Park at the beginning of the Second World War almost 52 years earlier. The park is also meant as a celebration of the history and contributions that Japanese Canadians have made to the cultural mosaic of Vancouver and Canada. Momiji Gardens was the first step in the eventual transformation of Hastings Park into a public greenspace. The park officially opened April 17, 1993 with two Shinto priests conducted an earth-blessing ceremony to rid the site of evil spirits.
The plaques adjacent to the garden read:
Momiji Garden is a celebration of the rich combination of the many people who make up Canada’s unique cultural mosaic and the remarkable history and contribution not only of our Japanese Canadians but of all Canadian citizens. Rocks and Japanese maple (momiji) trees, flowers and waterfalls, all in perfect harmony. A magnificent reflection of cultures coming together and signifying what it means to be Canadian. Momiji Garden at Hastings Park is for the enjoyment of all Canadians and their visitors.
MOMIJI GARDEN COMMITTEE
The following represent the hundreds of people who have volunteered their time and energy to the development of Momiji Garden:
Henry Wakabayashi, Chair
Tom Shoyama, Honourary Director
Art Miki, Honourary Director
Peter Kubotani, Japanese Canadian Citizens Association
Sandra Banister, Pacific National Exhibition
Members of the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association
August 12, 1993
Momiji Garden is made possible through the generosity of thousands of citizens from British Columbia and around the world.
Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation
Pacific National Exhibition
Province of British Columbia
City of Vancouver
City of Yokohama
Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation
The Vancouver Sun
Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association
Cariboo Pulp and Paper Co.
Commonwealth Construction Co.
Hope Friendship Garden
Kask Bros. Ready Mix Ltd.
MacMillan Bloedel Ltd.
PBK Engineering Ltd.
The Pacific Landplan Collaborative
Pitt River Quarries Ltd.
Surfwood Supply Ltd.
Pacific Lialcon Ltd.