I received an email from a reader in response to the story I wrote Wednesday about the weekend vandalism at Mountain View Cemetery.
As I reported here, on Saturday morning someone walking through the cemetery discovered dozens of grave markers and headstones badly damaged by vandals who were heard partying in the middle of the night.
In response, reader Debra Kato sent me a link to her poignant blog post entitled, “Dear Vancouver Mountain View Cemetery Vandals: This is my family’s grave you destroyed.”
On her blog, Kato displays pictures of her family, beginning with an old black-and-white photo of her great grandmother and great grandfather taken in 1915. More family photos follow with captions written by Kato addressing the vandals, one which reads, “These were my Great Uncles playing around at Kitsilano beach. You see, they were real people.”
Followed by, “Here’s my other Great Uncle in the neighbourhood. The woman beside him in the family portrait is my Great Grandmother, Ima. She also came to Vancouver from Japan over a hundred years ago. She was born in 1879 and passed away in Winnipeg, in 1959. My Grandmother and her brother and sister brought her ashes back to Vancouver in the 1970s.
“The third person in the family grave is my Great Uncle, Shigezo. He is in the family portrait, in the middle between my other two Great Uncles. He was born in Vancouver. He died tragically at the young age of 25 years old. He worked at a lumber camp and he drowned after he fell in to the water and was trapped beneath the logs. The first to die was my Great Grandfather in 1930. The whole family was devastated with his sudden death. My Great Grandmother became a widow with six children.”
Kato introduces the vandals to her family through photos and captions. Many of the photos were taken at Mountain View Cemetery during family funerals. Kato ends her blog post with a photo of herself leaning over one of the damaged headstones. She writes, “I am the only family member left living in Vancouver. I have been entrusted to the care of the family grave. I hope this blog can help you to understand why your crime hurts the Mountain View Cemetery families so much.”
I hope so, too.
Kato was also upset because the area where her family’s graves are located was described as the “Chinese” section by police, when her family members buried there are Japanese. I checked with Mountain View and was told there are both Chinese and Japanese residents buried in that section.
The adjacent Jewish section also suffered damage to grave markers and headstones. The Vancouver Police Department’s forensic identification unit continues to investigate and is using the empty beer bottles and cans found at the scene as evidence.
Read more: Central Park: Vandals hit Vancouver cemetery