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Landscapes of Injustice

Published on November 17, 2017

Landscapes of Injustice is dedicated to recovering and grappling with the forced sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned property.

In 1942 the Canadian government uprooted over 21,000 people of Japanese ancestry from coastal British Columbia and began the forced sale of Japanese-Canadian property. These actions resulted in the eradication of Japanese-Canadian enclaves throughout British Columbia. Whereas the uprooting, internment, and deportation of Japanese Canadians have been the focus of a rich scholarly literature, the dispossession has received only passing attention. This should not be so. Because of the dispossession, Japanese Canadians had no homes to return to when restrictions were finally lifted in 1949. Because of the dispossession, there is no historic Japanese-Canadian neighbourhood in Vancouver or anywhere in Canada. It transformed individual lives and the broader landscapes of Canadian life. Former property owners and their descendants still feel the shock of the forced sales, the destruction of their neighbourhoods, and the betrayal of the promise that the Canadian government would “protect and preserve” their land and possessions. Canadians are heirs of landscapes of injustice.

We will research and tell this history and engage Canadians in a discussion of its implications. This history still matters. Members of our society continue to be unjustly marginalized, differences among us can still seem insurmountable, and future moments of national crisis will inevitably arise. Our team shares the conviction that Canadian society will be better equipped to address these challenges if we continue to engage the most difficult aspects of our past.

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