Four of the cherry trees in Prince Rupert received grafts in April and have a high chance of survival after being carved up in March. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

In Our Opinion: From lemons to lemonade

How a mistake turned into a memory for a Japanese family and Prince Rupert residents

Here’s a plaque that will never die, but will etch a family history for all time.

Now that is an apology.

After the Northern View published more than 10 stories, updates and opinions about the accidental chopping of the historic Japanese cherry trees, the government made a big play to ease the tension.

Not everyone was privy to the moving speeches delivered by Henry Shimizu and his son Gregory on Nov. 15, which is why we shared the whole 25-minute presentation in the story.

The public apology felt genuine. The government spoke little, and stepped back to allow the Shimizu family to take the spotlight, reconnect with their past and find honour in sharing the family story.

READ MORE: Ottawa apologizes to Japanese family in B.C. after chopping historic cherry trees

There are moments in their story — when young Henry was sent away to the internment camp never to return, or when a nearly blind Shotaro decided to gift 1,200 trees without ever seeing them blossom or even planning a return to hear praise from Rupertites ­— that send a shiver up the spine.

In the past month we started posting our podcast, and noteworthy audio, on our Podbean channel, and the Shimizu speech has had the most listeners so far with more than 330 downloads in a couple of days.

With delicacy, and respect, the federal government placed the appropriate book ends to story. Even though none of the Shimizu family live in Prince Rupert, they were all flown up to Prince Rupert, which proved to be more of a gift for residents who have followed the story since the trees were cut down in front of the federal building in March.

While the Shimizu’s were rekindled with their history, and have had it set in stone for eternity, Prince Rupert also learned what it means to look beyond our everyday trees, buildings, boats and other objects within our landscape.

This city is full of stories just waiting to be told. Hopefully it doesn’t take a loss to remember what they are.

READ MORE: In Our Opinion: The sound of cherry trees



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