In 1942, the Canadian government uprooted and interned all people of Japanese descent living in coastal British
Columbia. The following year, it authorized the sale of everything that they had been forced to leave behind. As a result, when Canada’s internment era finally ended in 1949, Japanese Canadians had nothing to return to. Their homes, farms, businesses, fishing vessels, cars, family pets, personal belongings—in short, everything that they had been unable to take with them—was gone. The uprooting and dispossession transformed the geography of British Columbia: hundreds of localities where Japanese Canadians had made their lives would, without the dispossession, have been very differently comprised, understood, and remembered. Dozens of locales in which the internment occurred have been since haunted by this injustice.
This course is the first in Canada that dedicated to this history. Following a 5-day tour to many of the sites of internment, participants take part in an intensive week at the University of Victoria where they discuss the internment and dispossession in daily seminars. The whirlwind two weeks is completed with a group project of the students' choice, and a short final paper that offers participants a chance to reflect on their experience.