Greenwood Internment Site
Greenwood was the first of 10 Internment camps and 7 official self-supporting sites Japanese Canadians were forcibly relocated to in 1942 after the outbreak of World War II. Deemed a national security threat, over 22,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly uprooted by the federal government to 100 miles east of the coast. Their homes, boats, cars, businesses and properties were confiscated by the government and sold in order to finance the Internment.
The Greenwood Internment Site Interpretive Sign was dedicated in 2018 as part of the Highway Legacy Sign Project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Internment in 2017. This was a partnership project with the Japanese Canadian community and the Ministry of Transportation to mark history where it happened.
Greenwood incorporated as a city in 1897. Copper, gold and silver mining along with a smelter brought the Greenwood into prominence. In 1942, with the help of the Franciscan Sisters and Friars who ran the Japanese Catholic Mission in Vancouver and Steveston, the city took in 1200 Japanese Canadians from the coast. The community scrambled to find solutions for housing, education, employment, food supplies and other goods. Families moved into empty hotels and commercial buildings.
Despite the hardships and adversity of incarceration, Japanese Canadians built a vibrant community with the Greenwood locals, with parades, sports clubs, school events, church banquets and small businesses in town. The Internment ended in 1949, four years after the war ended. Freedom of movement, the right to vote and Canadian citizenship was granted to all Canadians regardless of race that same year.
Japanese Canadian history. Archival photo credit: Nikkei National Museum