Measuring old-growth trees at Yard Creek Provincial Park. (Shuswap Trail Alliance photo)

Measuring old-growth trees at Yard Creek Provincial Park. (Shuswap Trail Alliance photo)

Japanese themed garden planned for Yard Creek park to remember internment

The plan was unanimously supported by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board

  • Jun. 22, 2022 2:30 p.m.

Barb Brouwer

Contributor

Yard Creek Provincial Park east of Sicamous is a popular destination.

But during the Second World War, the area was home to Japanese Canadians who were regarded as a possible security threat.

In 1942, many of them were sent to one of seven internment camps between Solsqua and Three Valley Gap.

In 2019, Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin was approached by Tomoaki Fujimura with a proposal to commemorate those who were detained.

Tomoaki has completed extensive research and would like them to be declared historical sites.

The largest of the internment camps was located at the current site of Yard Creek Provincial Park.

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) holds a land use/occupancy permit from BC Parks for the park and has an agreement in place with the Malakwa Community Association for management of the site.

Martin responded quickly to Tomoaki’s request by hosting initial meetings with him and other stakeholders, which include Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society, the Malakwa Community Association and neighbouring residents who have first-hand recollection of the internment camps.

“This is an exciting project that will shine a light on history of the valley and recognize all the men who were interred in these camps, separated from family and friends,” said Martin.

He called it a sad part of B.C. history that needs to be acknowledged.

“I think it’s important, for young people particularly, to know what has happened.

“Those men helped construct portions of the TCH and their lives were never the same because they could never go home.”

COVID delayed the proposed project until March 2022, when a meeting was held with CSRD Parks staff to look at what could be done and how to move forward.

Plans to establish a Japanese themed garden, short walking trail and interpretive signage within the day-use area of Yard Creek Provincial Park gained unanimous support.

Unanimous support was also given to a staff suggestion that a landscape architect be hired to create a conceptual design plan in consultation with members of the steering committee.

CSRD Parks staff would like to accept a concept design proposal by LARCH Landscape Architects.The design plan, including budget estimates, will be used to seek necessary approvals from BC Parks and to make applications for possible grant funding, said Ryan Nitchie CSRD community services team leader.

Since the meeting in March, the CSRD has received a $4,000 donation from the Vancouver Japanese Gardeners Association to be used to assist in construction of the project.

At the June 16 board meeting, directors unanimously authorized $10,000 from the Electoral Area E Community Works Fund for the conceptual design plan.

Nitchie advised directors that on May 21, 2022, the province announced a $100 million initiative to redress the historical wrongs of the internment of thousands of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

“Timing of this project is ideal as there is a strong likelihood that the project could be supported through this recently announced initiative,” said Nitchie.

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