Tofino’s municipal council is preparing a formal apology for a resolution made by the town in 1947 that would have excluded Asian Canadians from owning property or conducting business in the community.
The 1947 motion reads, in part, “The Commissioners of the Corporation of the Village of Tofino, hereby resolve-That at the request of the residents of the Village of Tofino, all orientals be excluded completely from this Municipality, and shall be prevented from owning property or carrying on business directly or indirectly within the Municipality.”
During last week’s regular meeting, Mayor Josie Osborne advised her council that she planned to bring a motion to May 28’s meeting to offer a formal apology to anyone impacted by the 1947 resolution to “exclude Orientals from the municipality.”
She added that the apology would be made publicly and spread widely through the district’s communication channels.
In a report she presented to council outlining the reasons for issuing an apology, Osborne wrote that roughly 100 Japanese Canadians, representing about one-third of the town’s population, were living in Tofino in 1941 and were “deeply affected” by the bombing of Pearl Harbour.
“On December 15, 1941, their fishing boats were rounded up and confiscated,” Osborne wrote. “Labelled ‘enemy aliens,’ in 1942 they were given 24 hours notice to gather their belongings and moved from their homes in Tofino and eventually taken by ferry to Vancouver Hasting Park where they stayed until they were moved into the interior of BC to internment camps.”
On Jan. 24, 1947, after the war had ended and internment camps were shut down, Tofino Commissioners—the town did not adopt a mayor and council style government until several years later—made the 1947 motion, though Osborne notes that motion was never officially adopted into law.
The motion was brought to Tofino council’s attention in 1997 when Sado Sato came upon it after purchasing property in Tofino and asked the district office to confirm it was no longer a law.
Osborne said district staff were able to confirm that the motion had never been formally adopted and council accepted a request from Mr. Sato to formally rescind the motion on Nov. 24 1997.
“Council wishes to set the record straight by rescinding the Resolution regarding Orientals (1947) and emphasize that the District of Tofino rejects any exclusionary policy based on racial or ethnic origin,” the rescinding motion read, in part.
Osborne wrote that the 1997 rescinding of the motion was never publicly communicated beyond council minutes, “and it appears the matter was never formally discussed by Tofino Council again.”
The apology will take place at 4:30 p.m. on May 28 in the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre, adjacent to Tofino’s Council Chambers at 380 Campbell Street, and will be immediatelty followed by council’s regularly scheduled meeting scheduled for 4:50 p.m.