SAN JOSE — Carolyn Nakagawa, the culture, education and programs coordinator for the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in Bernaby (near Vancouver), British Columbia, will be the guest speaker on Tuesday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, 535 N. Fifth St. in San Jose Japantown.
A fourth-generation Japanese Canadian, Nakagawa is a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program. She sits on the Young Leaders Committee and the Future Directions team of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, and is currently conducting oral history research with the Landscapes of Injustice project. She is also a poet and playwright currently at work on a play about Japanese Canadian community across history.
Japanese Canadian and Japanese American history have many parallels, but Canada and its status as a British colony provided a different legal context and led to some key differences to how discrimination was implemented. Japanese immigration to Canada began in the late 1870s-1880s.
First- and second-generation Japanese Canadians established themselves largely in coastal regions of British Columbia, the country’s westernmost province, and fought against various racist restrictions to their rights, most notably the right to vote. Japanese Canadians experienced a forced uprooting from their coastal homes in 1942, and in 1945 were asked to make a “choice” to leave British Columbia for other parts of Canada, or accept deportation to Japan.
In addition, the Landscapes of Injustice research project is currently conducting in-depth research into the government dispossession of Japanese Canadian property that occurred during the 1940s. The Nikkei National Museum in Bernaby is dedicated to honoring, preserving, and sharing this history through research, historical and contemporary art exhibits, publications, and other activities.