George Pearson Centre in Vancouver to be renamed after racism complaint

According to an article in the Times Colonist, Pearson led a delegation from B.C. to Ottawa in 1942 lobbying for the forced eviction of all Japanese Canadians.

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Vancouver Coastal Health is renaming the George Pearson Centre after being advised the longtime B.C. politician lobbied hard against the rights and freedoms of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s.

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In a statement, the health authority said it would talk to community groups and others about a suitable new name for the Centre — a South Vancouver care home for residents with complex medical and physical conditions.

“Earlier this year, a community group advised … that George S. Pearson lobbied against the rights and freedoms of racialized people in the 1940s, and requested VCH consider a more culturally appropriate name for George Pearson Centre,” the health authority wrote.

“The beliefs and actions of George S. Pearson do not align with VCH’s core values. We care for everyone, we are always learning, and we strive for better results. With full support from the VCH board of directors, VCH has initiated a renaming process … to better reflect its values and the diverse communities it serves.

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“Names hold power and signal organizational and community values. The health authority is committed to making its sites more culturally safe and humbly acknowledges the work that still needs to be done.”

In June, Spencer van Vloten wrote an opinion piece titled The Curse of George Pearson Centre on the website B.C. Disability.

Van Vloten states in the article that Pearson called the forced eviction of all people of Japanese descent, including Canadian citizens, from B.C. during the Second World War.

According to an article in the Victoria Times Colonist, Pearson led a delegation from B.C. to Ottawa to lobby for that.

Pearson was appointed to the B.C. Security Commission during the war and opposed allowing detained Japanese Canadians to work in the lumber industry during the war in order to make money for their families, claiming they would need to be supervised by police. The B.C. Security Commission was responsible for putting Japanese Canadian families in internment camps.

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