This Garden overlooks the actual East Lillooet Internment Site, which was one 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.
In partnership with the Ministry of Transportation, the District of Lillooet and the Japanese Canadian community, in 2017, this Memorial Garden was created to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Internment as a historic dedication to the families of the East Lillooet Self-supporting Camp (population. 309). A stone monument in honour of Internee families, an Interpretive Sign and Stop-of-Interest sign were installed in the Garden.
Situated on 40 acres of land above the banks of the Fraser River and leased from a local landowner, 62 crude tarpaper shacks were built and a series of flumes to carry water from the Fraser River. With no insulation, electricity, or indoor plumbing, conditions in the camp were harsh and barely tolerable, with icicles forming inside the shacks during winter. 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.
The Memorial Garden is located on the corner of Lytton-Lillooet Highway 12 and Sumner Road, in Lillooet, BC, just south of the Malms Old Airport Garden, and south on Highway 12 from Fort Berens Winery.
Japanese Canadian History