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Vancouver Japanese Church Receives Compensation for WW II Loss

The United Church of Canada is paying compensation to a Vancouver Japanese congregation for the loss of its church building during the Second World War.

Vancouver Japanese United Church will receive $500,000 from BC Conference and the General Council of The United Church of Canada. The Conference and the General Council will pay $250,000 each in recognition of their joint responsibility for the loss of the church building.

Worship and Celebration

A worship celebration and ceremonial payment will take place on Saturday, December 8, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. at Vancouver Japanese United Church (4010 Victoria Drive, Vancouver). A lunch will follow.

History

In 1942, during the Second World War, those of Japanese ancestry were deported from a 100-mile zone inland from the Pacific Coast. Over 22,000 people were removed from their homes and resettled in camps in the BC interior, even though 65% were Canadian born. Properties and businesses were confiscated.

The members of Vancouver Japanese United Church, who had been worshipping together since the beginning of the century, were also deported. Their church building was held “in trust” by another United Church congregation for the next ten years.

When the congregation returned to Vancouver in 1949, they found their church building no longer in suitable condition for worship. They started to look for another church, and moved from place to place until they purchased another United Church building in 1977, where the congregation remains to this day.

In 1952 the original church property was sold by the United Church. Monies from the sale were likely used for mission purposes by the church (the historic record on this is not clear) but the congregation did not receive any of it.

This injustice was recognized and apologies were made by BC Conference and the General Council of The United Church of Canada in 2009 at their General Meetings. At that time all parties agreed that the matter of future compensation needed to be decided. Conversations since that time have led to the recent agreement for the payment of compensation.