On Saturday historic commemoration ceremonies will take place in the Slocan Valley as two interpretive signage panels are unveiled at Lemon Creek and Popoff.
The public is invited to join well-known author Joy Kogawa and several dignitaries for the signage dedications beginning at the Lemon Creek site (adjacent to Lemon Creek Lodge on Kennedy Road) at 2 p.m.
Between 1942 and 1946, approximately 2,200 Japanese Canadians were interned at these two internment sites just south of the Village of Slocan. Hundreds of small houses, streets, schools and other buildings were built beginning about this time of year in 1942 as the first trainloads of Japanese Canadians began arriving in Slocan.
Today, two empty hay fields are all that is left and passers-by have no idea of the story these two fields could tell about what once happened here.
Those behind the new signs say it is remarkable that until this Saturday, not a single sign or marker has identified these important sites where one of the most unjust episodes in Canadian history unfolded.
Created by local historian Ian Fraser, the signage was commissioned by the Slocan Valley Heritage Trail Society and documents the story in pictures and narrative, highlighting the national injustice that was perpetrated.
Kogawa and other dignitaries will be participating in the sign dedications on Kennedy Road at the Lemon Creek site at 2 p.m. and on the Slocan Valley Rail Trail adjacent to the Popoff site at 3 p.m.
Following the sign dedication ceremonies, the public is invited to assemble at the former Odd Fellows Hall at the north end of Harold Street in the Village of Slocan (now called the Silvery Slocan or Legion Hall) from 4 to 6 p.m. This 1890’s building is hardly changed inside from the 40’s and is remembered as the site of dances, movies, funerals and other events during the internment years. Displays, slide-shows and socializing with Kogawa and other former internees and dignitaries will take place.
A buffet dinner at 6 p.m. with presentations and readings by Kogawa is now sold out but the signage dedication ceremonies and the open house will be well worth attending.