Japanese Canadian internment exhibit Broken Promises to open in Burnaby before traveling across Canada

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      A Japanese Canadian cultural centre and museum is marking two decades in Metro Vancouver with a new exhibit that will travel across Canada to raise awareness about and provide an indepth look at an unjust chapter in Canadian history.

      The National Nikkei Museum held an official launch on September 26 for the exhibit Broken Promises, which is co-curated with the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Landscapes of Injustice research collective.

      The exhibit draws upon research from the seven-year Landscapes of Injustice project, based at the University of Victoria, to delve into the dispossession of 22,000 Japanese Canadians on Canada’s West Coast—ranging from the loss of home and properties to the struggles for justice—that began during the Second World War, with residual ripple effects lingering today.

      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 at the NNMCC.)

      Seven narrators tell a story that spans several decades, and the exhibit includes previously unreleased photographs, interviews, official documents, and letters.

      The exhibit will open to the public from Tuesday (September 29) onward (with COVID-19 safety measures in place). The gallery, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesdays to September, has a maximum capacity of eight people at a time.

      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 B.C. coast.(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 and Cultural Centre.)


      The second floor at the Nikkei centre also offers a display of objects unearthed by one of the Broken Promises narrators during an archeological dig by Capilano University professor Bob Muckle on the North Shore.

      Concurrent with the exhibition launch, Landscapes of Injustice launched a new website to present its research findings in a narrative format, as well as a book edited by University of Victoria history professor and project director Jordan Stranger-Ross.

      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 at the NNMCC.)
      Jack Lindsay, City of Vancouver Archives

      Broken Promises, which will remain on display at the Nikkei centre until the spring, is scheduled to be shown at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto in May 2021, and at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria in early 2022. Dates in Halifax and other regional locations yet to be announced. 

      The National Nikkei Museum and Cultural Centre, located at 6688 Soutoaks Crescent in Burnaby, is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

      The Murakami Family in Greenwood in the B.C. Interior (Murakami, Kimiko, Richard, Mary, Rose, Violet, and Alice).

      (This archival photo is featured in the Broken Promises exhibit at the NNMCC.)

      Salt Spring Island Archives
      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.