UBC Undergraduate Research

To Motivate and Dismantle : The History of the Japanese Fishing Village on Don and Lion Islands and the Effect of Racism Lovik, Melanie


Don and Lion Islands are two small islands on the south arm of the Fraser River that were settled by Japanese fishermen and their families from 1901 after a racist attack on their previous home provoked them to move to a more isolated location. It was populated until at least the mid 1920s, but a few people may have remained until 1942 when they were forcibly removed to be interned during World War II. While Japanese-Canadians resided there, they fished, brewed sake, exported salmon roe to Japan, salted dog salmon and shipped it to Japanese-Canadian fishing camps and cookhouses. This paper discusses the history of racism towards Japanese-Canadians and touches on the early years of emigration out of Japan after their seclusion policy was lifted. It also describes the history of Don and Lion Islands and how racism from working class whites continued to affect its residents despite its isolated location, due to the increasing pressures of strict fishing licensing and regulations. The aim of this narrative is to connect the racism that initially caused the community to move to Don and Lion Islands with the racism and reduced fishing licences that eventually caused the islands to depopulate. In doing so, it can be argued that racism motivated and dismantled these island communities.

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