Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nagasaki Day

We woke to thunder and rain fall today. Michael is out under a tarp processing veggie oil he collected at a burger joint in Nakusp. We are on Kane Creek in the Kootenays, just out of New Denver and it’s chilly, reminding us that fall will start in the high country next month. There are thimble berries enough for every fingertip on this road and we saw our first bear of the trip hanging out near here. (We sleep with a can of 15 year old bear mace and a walking pole by the cab-over door.)

Yesterday, we started off in a vacant lot by the Nakusp Esso Station. This sounds like an urban situation but actually the roar of a river and the edge of the forest were right there. In the morning the laughter of four young people tending the flower beds out front of the gas station gave the setting a gaiety I haven’t really seen in US gas stations.
We had breakfast at this little waterfall along Arrow Lake and then found the hotsprings on Halfway River after quite a bit of trial and error. Actually, we may not have found the main hotsprings but we found a pleasing hot hollow big enough for two so that was more than perfect. After the hotsprings we veggie powered south to New Denver.

The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, is the only such memorial in Canada that remains to tell the story of how 22,000 people, 75% of whom were Canadian citizens, were labeled “enemy aliens” and forced from their costal homes and removed to relocation camps in harsh mountainous areas like New Denver as well as in a second relocation to Alberta and other plains areas to slave on sugar beet farms. These Nikkei (people of Japanese descent) were swept up by the racist dispersal policies set off by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. People’s civil rights and property were taken from them and a hard fought campaign for an official apology from the Canadian government only was passed in 1988.

An aside on this is that we were listening to the CBC radio last night and a US film maker of Japanese descent had interviewed kids in Tokyo. The first eight had no idea about what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the war. He said the survivors of the atomic bombings are an embarrassment and their stories are marginalized such that it isn’t even part of the general knowledge of the young people. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is pushing Japan hard to change its pacifist constitution, imposed on Japan after the war, so that the US will have an ally against China and North Korea.

The Internment Memorial Centre was a special place to visit and I appreciated The Kyowaki (“working together peacefully”) Society that has been together since 1943 in New Denver. They are the ones that preserved the photos, documents, artifacts, buildings, peace arch, vegetable garden, Buddhist temple, and created the Peace Garden. I’d driven by Manzanar, on the desert side of the Sierra on our way to the Nuclear Weapons Test Site a number of times but never stopped. I can imagine it was just as bad but these people in Canada must have been so miserable in the winters! The first winter, of 1942-43, they were in canvas tents. There were photos of the snow dragging down the tents so they were just fabric around a center pole. The 200 tiny shacks, each one with two families with up to six children, had no insulation, just paper and thin shells of wood. Each outhouse “served” up to 50 people. This was before the time of electricity or running water. I guess the most striking thing to me was that men who spoke out were forced to wear jackets with big yellow targets on their backs. At the same time, life went on with schools and normal events. Photos showed healthy, well dressed looking people with relaxed smiling faces. It really was a wonder of community strength and resourcefulness in the face of terrible stresses. The shacks were deeded to Japanese Canadian residents by the BC government in 1957 and the last shack was occupied until 1985! (The address for the Kyowakai Society is Box 273, New Denver, BC VOG 1SO)

We hear about the stock market crashing and the frantic attempts to prop up world markets. Peace to all in this house of cards from our snail world to yours.. Sorry I still don't have the smarts to get the pictures right.
Peace to you, now from Nelson, B.C., Chris, Michael and Sasha


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