A Sorry State
Meet the most apologized to family in the country. Maybe the entire world. Mitch Miyagawa, analyzes in his article “A Sorry State” the government apologies for injustices that have been presented by different Canadian governments over the past decades. In 1988 Mitch Miyagawa’s family got their first apology from the government of Canada for the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. The first apology came from Brian Mulroney; the prime minister at the time. His speech caused a big commotion across the country; marked as a historic moment. Apology number two followed as the next Prime Minister arose to power.
Mitch’s stepfather, Harvey, came from a Chinese family who struggled with head tax at the time. First, a head tax than an outright ban that kept families like Harvey’s split up for decades. Stephen Harper officially apologized for the burden of the head tax. Then, Etheline, Mitch’s stepmother; a victim of Residential Schools. Generations of children taken from their parents and forced into residential schools far away from home; Etheline being one of the children. Stories of abuse and neglect, brothers segregated from sisters. Acts of violence that are indescribable.The apology for residential schools affected more people than the internment of Japanese Canadians and the treatment of Chinese immigrants.
This worldwide wave of apologies, promoting how good Canadians are; just look at the number of sorries they have said and the lack of actions taken. Roy Miki, an activist fighting for the apology at the time. Always seeking acknowledgment, accountability, and responsibility. The democratic system broke down and because of that politicians were the cause that innocent people were interned. The system betrayed its own citizens. Redress was the ultimate goal; the reason for the protests. By seeking redress and accomplishing it, the democratic cycle would strengthen. It was seen as one protection policy to put in place for the future. If the government decides to abrogate the rights of certain citizens then there will be consequences to pay in the future for their wrongfulness. You have to do something you can’t just say “sorry”.
In the end, Mitch was hoping to discover more about his past, his family, his roots and where he comes from. Evaluating the apologies of the Canadian government was part of the goal to truly understand their intentions. Also, driven by his desire to pass down to his children the same knowledge his father, his mother, Harvey and Etheline left to him. Someday his children will continue the chain on to their children. The author claims that it is important to future generations that the family story is told. An honest, and powerful article about the struggles of different groups in Canada battling reconciliation with the government.