The forthcoming public outputs will communicate the research findings of a 7-year, multidisciplinary Canadian history project on the dispossession of Japanese Canadians during the 1940s.
Landscapes of Injustice tells a story of the loss of home. It is about fear, racism, and measures taken in the name of security that made no one safer. It is also about the resilience of Japanese Canadians confronting injustice. The content of the new narrative website will be divided into four key claims:
1. The dispossession entailed the deliberate killing of home. Home—the place where we belong—continues to hold meaning, even (and perhaps especially) for displaced people. When the Canadian government destroyed the homes of Japanese Canadians and sold all of their belongings, it compounded the harms of the internment.
2. Dispossession is hard work. The dispossession required years of administrative work and the complicity of thousands of people. Hundreds of government officials laboured in the dispossession. Thousands of civilians stole and bought the belongings of their former neighbours. Japanese Canadians felt the burden of daily administration for an entire decade.
3. Perpetrators of the dispossession reasoned wrong. Dispossession was not the work of angry racists alone. Although racism permeated the corridors of power, notions of citizenship, good governance, and fair play were also twisted in service of injustice. Ideals that Canadians now repudiate folded together with ones we still cherish to deprive citizens of their rights.
4. Dispossession is permanent. The internment era was far too long—7 years, most of them after the Second World War had ended. But dispossession lasts forever. The lands, possessions, and opportunities lost can never be fully restored. The communities and neighbourhoods destroyed can never be fully rebuilt. Japanese Canadians and others live with legacies of shame, silence, regret, complicity, and loss. Even legacies of resilience and activism in the face of wrongdoing come with their own costs. We are heirs to landscapes of injustice.