The University of British Columbia Senate voted November 16, 2011 to honour students and Canadians affected by a dark period in Canada’s history, and will be awarding them special degrees next spring as part of a three-pronged program to mark the 70th anniversary of the internment policy.
“The University has taken seriously the need to find meaningful ways to provide solemn recognition of historical events,” says Sally Thorne, professor of Nursing and Chair of the UBC Senate Tributes Committee, which established a working group on the matter.
“To acknowledge the 70th anniversary of the provincial internment policy in the spring of 2012, we want to pay tribute to UBC students and others impacted during this time, and also take steps to help future students learn from the past,” said Thorne.
The UBC Senate Tributes Committee’s working group has been reviewing the issue since the fall of 2010, consulting with members of UBC and Lower Mainland communities in order to ensure UBC’s recognition is thoughtful and enduring.
The Senate voted on three measures: to award special degrees to the estimated 76 UBC students whose studies were disrupted by internment; to develop initiatives to educate future UBC students about this dark episode in its history; and to have the UBC Library preserve and bring to life the historical record in its possession.
“We have heard from members of the Japanese Canadian communities through letters and discussions,” says Thorne. “The University is deeply grateful for the feedback we have received, and we hope that our tribute will consolidate the strong relationship between UBC and the Japanese Canadian community.”