To mark the 75th anniversary of the Japanese Canadian Internment, the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration studies program offered a special topics course, ACAM 320A: The History and Legacy of Japanese Canadian Internment, in January 2018.  This course was co-taught by Mary Kitagawa and Professor John Price.

From 1941 to 1949, Japanese Canadians faced uprooting, incarceration, and dispossession: a defining instance of racial injustice in Canadian history. This course examines the histories, effects and legacies of the Japanese Canadian internment experience in the context of First Nations dispossession, anti-Asian racisms and contemporary struggles for minority and migrant rights. Participants will engage with community elders and activists and be encouraged to undertake community-based research. This course is being offered on the 75th anniversary of the uprooting and the 30th anniversary of redress.

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island where she lived until the uprooting. After her father’s arrest, her mother and their five children were sent to Hastings Park, Greenwood, Magrath, Alberta, Popoff, Bay Farm, Slocan, Rosebery, New Denver, Magrath and Cardston, Alberta. She graduated from Cardston High and went on to Trinity College, University of Toronto. At UBC, she received her secondary teaching credential and taught at Kitsilano Secondary. She and her husband Tosh belonged to the Greater Vancouver JCCA Human Rights Committee for 23 years. In 2006, they were involved in the renaming of the Howard Charles Green building to the Douglas Jung building in downtown Vancouver. In 2008, they began lobbying for UBC to give honorary degrees to the 76 Japanese Canadian students who were expelled from UBC in 1942. Success was achieved in 2012 when UBC held a special congregation for those students, digitized historical documents pertaining to their lives, and created a new minor degree in the Faculty of Arts, the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program. Mary is on the Community Council of the Landscapes of Injustice project at the University of Victoria. Mary and Tosh continue to educate the public by speaking out about Japanese Canadian history and social justice.

John Price is Professor of Pacific and Asian Canadian history at the University of Victoria. He moved to Japan at the age of 18 and, after returning to Canada, did his PhD at UBC. He is the author of Japan Works: Power and Paradox in Postwar Industrial Relations (Cornell University Press), Orienting Canada: Race, Empire and the Transpacific (UBC Press), and a recent working paper, “Seventy-Five Years is Long Enough: Will the BC Government Finally Acknowledge and Address Its Role in the Uprooting of Japanese Canadians?” He currently directs the research project, “Asian Canadians on Vancouver Island: Race, Indigeneity and the Transpacific,” funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and is completing two new works: Searching for Victoria, a biography of Victoria Chung, the first Asian Canadian to graduate from University of Toronto Medical School, and Beyond White Supremacy, a history of Asian Canadians and decolonization in Canada.

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