A health facility in Vancouver named after a BC politician who was a key figure in the removal of rights and freedoms as well as businesses and property for a particular ethnic group of Canadian citizens will now undergo a name change.
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) announced today (September 14) that it will launch a process involving community partners and stakeholders to choose a new name for the George Pearson Center.
The center is a nursing home for residents with complex medical and physical conditions. It’s located at 700 West 57th Avenue in southern Vancouver.
The VCH started the renaming process in response to advice from a Community group on the racist political activities of the Center’s namesake.
The British-born George S. Pearson was the BC Liberal MLA for Nanaimo from 1928 to 1952 and was BC’s Labor Minister and Fisheries Commissioner.
Pearson was a strong advocate for the removal of people of Japanese descent from British Columbia during World War II. He went to Ottawa in January 1942 to demand that all Japanese Canadians be forcibly relocated out of the province, even though RCMP, Army and Navy officials claimed that Japanese Canadians posed no security threat.
The internment of over 22,000 Japanese Canadians began in 1942, and restrictions remained in place in BC until 1949, although Japan had surrendered in 1945 and the Japanese American internment had ceased in 1946.
In 1988, the Canadian government officially apologized for the detention and provided compensation to surviving detainees. The BC government and the city of Vancouver formally apologized in 2012 and 2013, respectively, for their involvement in the detention.
“George S. Pearson’s beliefs and actions do not agree with VCH’s core values: We care about everyone, we always learn and we strive for better results, ”Stated VCH in a press release. “VCH recognizes that names have power and signals organizational and societal values - the health authority is committed to making its sites more culturally secure and humbly recognizes the work still to be done.”