Family’s World War II sacrifice makes wearing Maple Leaf extra special for Travis Murao

Canadian Paralympic Committee

June 14, 2024

Murao a longtime member of Canada’s national wheelchair rugby team

Travis Murao - Wheelchair Rugby

TORONTO – Travis Murao never forgets that every time he dons that Team Canada jersey for Canada’s wheelchair rugby team, it came at a price to his family.

“The more I learn about my Dad’s experience, the more I’m kind of in awe of what he had to go through,” said Murao, a strong contender to compete at his fourth Paralympic Games this summer in Paris. The team will be nominated later this summer.

“As I get older I like to reflect on where it all started,” added the 40-year-old from Steveston, B.C., and now based in Toronto.

Murao’s father, Phil, was born in 1944 in a Japanese internment camp.  Two years earlier, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed more than 90 per cent of Japanese Canadians, some 21,000 people, living in British Columbia.

They were held under the War Measures Act and were interned for the rest of the Second World War which ended in August 1945.

Their homes and businesses were sold by the government to pay for their detention.

In 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney apologized on behalf of the Canadian government for the wrongs it committed against Japanese Canadians. The government also made symbolic redress payments and repealed the War Measures Act.

Murao’s family had everything taken away. His grandmother raised her seven kids in difficult circumstances.

“To see my father overcome all of that and bring our family up in such a way that I could pursue my dreams in a way that he never could, it feels pretty important,” said Travis.

“For a group of people that weren’t always seen as patriotic Canadian representatives to wear the Maple Leaf on our national team gives me a lot of pride.”

Recently the Murao family celebrated Phil’s 80th birthday.

With files from The Canadian Encyclopedia

Can Crew Newsletter

Receive the latest news, athlete stories, and behind-the-scenes access directly to your inbox.

"*" indicates required fields