PHOTOS: Gallery explores ‘broken promises’ during Japanese Canadian internment in 1940s

The Murakami Family in Greenwood in BC’s Interior: (MURAKAMI, KIMIKO, RICHARD, MARY, ROSE, VIOLET AND ALICE) (This archival photo is featured in the “Broken Promises” exhibit opening at the NNMCC on Sept. 26, 2020) 2004-005-038. Image courtesy of Salt Spring Island Archives.
Two children look into the window of a Japanese store, closed after the forced relocation of Japanese nationals. (This archival photo is featured in the “Broken Promises” exhibit opening at the NNMCC on Sept. 26, 2020) Credit: Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives.
Confiscated boats of Japanese Canadian fishermen, Bamfield Harbour, BC. Japanese Canadian boats from the west coast of Vancouver Island were rounded up by the Canadian Navy immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Although most cameras were confiscated, no one paid attention to the child who took this photo as she rowed around the fleet to pick up the family’s daily supply of goat’s milk. (This archival photo is featured in the “Broken Promises” exhibit opening at the NNMCC on Sept. 26, 2020) NNM, 2001.20.3.6. Image courtesy of Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.
The image shows an older man in a vest and tie with his arm out, leaning against a storefront that has “397 K Saito Tailor” painted on it. Powell Street, Vancouver, c. 1920. (Not featured in current exhibit) NNM, 2011.16.1.2.5. Image courtesy of Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.
A registration certificate, numbered 10333, issued to Hiroshi Okuda of 306 Jackson Avenue, Vancouver, on June 7, 1941. The certificate reads “Canadian Born” and includes Hiroshi’s photograph. (This archival photo is featured in the “Broken Promises” exhibit opening at the NNMCC on Sept. 26, 2020) NNM, 2018.3.1.1.6. Image courtesy of Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.
This scroll is part of an important donation to the NNMCC from the family of Eikichi Kagetsu, a lumber baron whose property was forcibly dispossessed in 1943. The collection was in banker boxes bagged and ready to be placed in an off-site freezer to destroy any mold or insects that may have made its way into the material while it was stored in the Kagetsu family’s North Carolina basement. Photo was taken in 2016 at NNMCC. Photo credit: Kaitlin Findlay with archival materials from the NNMCC.
Displaced Japanese Canadians leaving the Vancouver area (possibly Slocan Valley) after being prohibited by law from entering a “protected area” within 100 miles of the coast in BC. (l-r: woman holding book is Nobuko Morimoto; woman in dark cardigan is Tei Terashita; young woman leaning out of train is identified as Kazuyo Kawabata) (This archival photo is featured in the “Broken Promises” exhibit opening at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre on Sept. 26, 2020). Image provided courtesy of NNMCC.
Thousands of visitors came to Canada’s first Japanese garden and teahouse, run by brothers Hayato and Kensuke Takata, until their internment in 1942. (Photo, c. 1914/15, not featured in current exhibit) Toyo Takata Fonds, v986.18.6. Image courtesy of the Esquimalt Municipal Archives.

The University of Victoria will soon be sharing the untold stories of more than 22,000 Japanese Canadians, as part of a new national exhibition exploring Japanese Canadian internment in the 1940s.

The university announced the new exhibit Tuesday (Sept. 22), called ‘Broken Promises.’

The gallery will be officially launching Sept. 29 at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Burnaby.

A website was also released today sharing the findings from the Landscapes of Injustice.

In a news release, UVic historian and project director Jordan Stanger-Ross says the gallery will portray the lesser known period of Canadian history through previously unreleased photographs, personal interviews, official documentation and letters of outrage.

“This exhibition launches in the midst of long overdue conversations about racism in Canada,” he said. “It is a time for excavating how our present realities are shaped by past inequalities.”

Exhibit organizers say the gallery is intended to share the untold truths of Japanese Canadians who suffered a profound loss of their homes, personal possessions and livelihoods, along with their civil and human rights.

Japanese Canadians who are now facing multi-generational trauma as a direct result that was initiated by the Canadian government eight decades ago.

“Broken Promises” will be on display at the centre through next spring. It is scheduled to travel to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto in May 2021, and to the Royal BC Museum in Victoria in early 2022, with dates in Halifax and other regional locations yet to be announced.

The public is also invited to the Sept. 26 live-streamed celebration launch. Visit the Facebook event page or watch live on YouTube.

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