The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War, by Ann Gomer Sunahara, is the first book to fully document the politics behind the 1942 expulsion order that saw 20,000 Japanese Canadians evicted from their homes in British Columbia and sent inland to work camps, detention centres and farms in Alberta and Manitoba. The book details the relationship between racism and political expediency, and shows how political parties and the affairs of the nation were controlled by a small group of politicians who scapegoated minorities to hang on to power. Most alarmingly, The Politics of Racism shows how easily Canadians allowed themselves to be manipulated by a political process that used fear and war hysteria in a very cynical and calculated way.
Since the 1981 version of The Politics of Racism (POR1981) was published, it has undergone two further editions: an HTML version in 2000 (POR2000) with an additional afterword about Redress, available on this site; and an e-book edition (POR2020) with an additional photo essay by the author.
2020 edition with new photo essay chapter
Ann Sunahara is a historian and lawyer. In 1973, she began studies in history with the object of determining why her husband, David, had been born in a detention camp in Canada during the Second World War.
The resulting book, The Politics of Racism: The Uprooting of Japanese Canadians During the Second World War, published in 1981, used the government’s own documents to show how officials abused the human and civil rights of Japanese Canadians for political ends. It provided the facts that kick-started a campaign by Japanese Canadians for redress of their wartime wrongs and the impetus for Ann to study law, particularly the War Measures Act, the legislation under which Japanese Canadians had been abused.
During the redress campaign, Ann spoke at many meetings and conferences, wrote materials and briefs for the National Association of Japanese Canadians, and co-chaired of the NAJC committee on the Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act in July 1988, fulfilling a major objective of the redress campaign.
After redress was achieved in 1988, Ann represented the NAJC on the Ministerial Committee that advised the Secretary of State on contentious cases arising from the administration of redress payments. In 1990, Ann joined Justice Canada in Ottawa. She retired in January 2007 and has since assisted the NAJC in a number of matters, including the correction of errors and omissions in the Japanese Canadian Exhibit in the Second World War Gallery at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Photo: Ann and David Sunahara. Alan Dean Photography Ottawa.
This website is a companion to resource books on the internment of Japanese Canadians and the attainment of redress in 1988. japanesecanadianhistory.net was developed as a teachers’ and students’ resource guide.