Prejudice created by circumstances. Created by governments. Passed on.
In his blog George Takei remembers spending his childhood in Rohwer, an American internment camp set up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor to protect citizens from local Japanese. He was 5 years old.
Canadian governments also created internment camps during the wars for Japanese and Europeans (both directly born and Canadian descendants).
A friend of mine who use to work as a guide for Parks Canada in Kananaskis often tells a story of German POWs imprisoned there. Prisoners were told that the local Indians would kill them if they tried to escape. They even asked a few Tsuu T'ina braves to come dressed in traditional garb and makeup to illustrate their point.
A couple of years ago, on a Canada Day family-history road trip, I visited the area where my pioneering ancestors farmed. The town museum was closed, but a local store owner was eager to tell me what he knew of my family. My family was/is a very reclusive bunch -- gathering family information is difficult -- so, I was eager to listen. Turns out there were reasons they kept to themselves.
My German/Finnish great grandparents came to Canada in the late 1800s, probably to escape government repression in Germany and Russia. At the time, the Canadian government was selling 120 acres of First Nation land for $10. My ancestors set up their homes, built their churches, and had their babies. I have cousins that still live in the area. I don't know what happened to my family during the wars, but in 1991 an uncle was buried in Calgary's military cemetery, so at least one relative fought for Canada. According to that store owner, though, I shouldn't be surprised if I found swastika flags in my family basement.
Almost 100 years after the wars, and still.
Why? Human nature? Tribal conditioning? Who knows why prejudice exists.
Prejudice is like a virus that goes dormant during good times, then when terrible events occur -- like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing -- the dis-ease is revived.
As for those interred, the only restitution, that I'm aware of, are memorials set up to commemorate the fact that citizens -- neighbours -- were denied their legal rights and treated like war prisoners.
Articles like Takei's remind us what happened, who it happened to, in hopes that it won't happen again.
- George Takei: Why We Must Remember Rohwer
- Japanese Canadian Internment (Wikipedia)
- Italian Canadians as Enemy Aliens: Memories of WWII - The Internment Camps
- Interned without cause: Kananaskis - Peter Krawchuk, Social History Project
- The Canadian Encyclopedia : Internment
- Canadian Internment Camps - Camp Petawawa
- German Internment During the First and Second World Wars - Alexander Bailey, Centre for Constitutional Issues
- First World War internement camps a 'difficult scar' for Canadian Ukranians - CTV News
- Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund
- List of concentration and internment camps (Wikipedia) - organized by country