November 2002
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A true learning experience
By Farah Kurji, SNN Editor, Hugh Boyd Secondary, Richmond, BC

When given the task of educating high school kids at Hugh Boyd Secondary School (in British Columbia) about Remembrance Day this November 11th, the school's Video Production Career Preparation students produced a record four videos over the span of four weeks.

The main focus of the ceremonies at Hugh Boyd were to educate students not only of the sacrifice made by soldiers abroad but also the causalities and suffering that took place in Western Canada among Japanese Canadians during World War II.

During World War II 22,000 people of Japanese Canadian decent were branded "enemy aliens," taken from their homes and sent to camps all over Western Canada.

In producing the videos, students had the opportunity to interview people who had been forced out of their homes and sent to internment camps. In an interview with this reporter, Mary Kitagawa described the day she was taken away. "Our farm which was a very active place, there always lots of noises and activities on that very day it almost spooky cause there was silence, because my parents had 5,000 chickens which made a lot of noise and we use to have a dog and there were a lot of activities and suddenly there was nothing."

She ended up in Hastings Park which "was a real shocker because instead of being housed in a place where [she] could at least tolerate the situation [she and her family] were housed like cattle in a barn in Hastings Park where the floors were still littered with feces and straw, and the smell was unbearable."

Life for most in internment camps was unbearable. In some cases ten families were housed in structures no bigger than a garden shed. Those who did not have a home lived in tents and nearly froze to death. "We were given six candles and that was suppose to last us a day but it didn't last through the night, so we would have to go to bed early. When we woke up our bedding would be frozen to the wall…my mother use to say don't move because it would tear the bedding because the inside wall was a sheet of ice," said Kitigawa in her interview.

Unsurprisingly, throughout World War II there was never an act of treason committed by the 22,000 farmers, fisherman, business people who were declared "enemy aliens."

Producing this video was a real learning experience. Hearing stories first hand from people who experienced this injustice made me realize that we need to still change the world we live in. As cliché as it must sound the youth today are the leaders of tomorrow and as the leaders of tomorrow we can't let something like this happen again. We can already see similar patterns of this developing today. After September 11th, those of Muslim descent have had their lives put in jeopardy.

George Oikawa, another victim of internment summed it up well by saying, "We didn't do anything…. suddenly we were being treated like the Muslims are today."

Other videos shown at the ceremony were of soldiers from Richmond who had fought along battlefield and two music videos also accompanied the Hugh Boyd choir in singing Bryan Adams' "On Remembrance Day" and John Lennon's "Imagine."

The Hugh Boyd Secondary Video Career Preparation students have just started their own production company, "The Producers," with the success of the Remembrance Day videos. The students are contracted to make two videos for the City of Richmond later this year. The best of luck to all of them.


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