What would the Japanese Canadian internment experience be like if something similar took place today?
While many may think it would be impossible for that to occur, it was only in 2016 when concerns were raised that a proposed U.S. surveillance program for Arabs and Muslims could lead to history repeating itself.
Photographer Kayla Isomura, who is a fourth-generation Japanese Canadian, sought to explore what that would be like for yonsei (fourth-generation) and gosei (fifth-generation) Japanese Canadians and Americans if they underwent the experience of relocation and internment in the present day.
After Japan’s 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, approximately 23,000 Japanese Canadians and over 100,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes along the North American West Coast and relocated to internment camps or farms.
For Isomura’s multimedia exhibit The Suitcase Project, over 80 individuals in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and Washington State, ranging from infants to 51-year-olds, participated.
All participants were forced to face the same predicament as Japanese Canadians did in 1942: they were given only 24- to 48-hour notice to choose which items they would take with them within weight restrictions.
During the internment in Canada, any remaining Japanese Canadian homes and possessions, including homes, businesses, properties, boats, personal items, and more, were seized by the Canadian government.
“In the Canadian context, Japanese Canadians were not allowed to return home and their possessions were sold by the government or looted,” Isomura stated in a news release. “The original idea wasn’t just about what or how people would pack, but also what they are forced to leave behind.”
by Craig Takeuchi on June 15th, 2018, The Georgia Straight.com
The Japanese Garden Society plans to bring to Salt Spring a travelling multimedia exhibit originally staged at the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby in 2018. The exhibition details will be announced soon.Here is a review of the exhibit by Leah Collins of CBC Arts news.