Past Wrongs, Future Choices Archives Cluster Update

The Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre is a partner organization with Past Wrongs, Future Choices (PWFC) project based at the University of Victoria. Today, we are sharing an update written by the PWFC Archives Cluster, which is co-chaired by our Collections Manager Lisa Uyeda.

Past Wrongs, Future Choices Archives Cluster Update

Past Wrongs, Future Choices (PWFC) is a partnership project based at the University of Victoria. Building on the work done by the Landscapes of Injustice (LOI) project which focused on the dispossession and displacement of Japanese Canadians, PWFC expands this lens to bring together the global history of the mistreatment of Nikkei during WWII.

Archives Cluster

One of the project’s four “clusters of activity” is the Archives Cluster. We have been tasked with two main outputs: an international Spotlight Series and Community Sessions across Canada. Meet the team behind the Archives Cluster!

L-R: Lisa U., Theressa T., Masumi I., Tomoko S.

Lisa Uyeda is co-chair of the Archives Cluster, and the Collections Manager at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. She has continually contributed to the preservation and access of Japanese Canadian history and heritage, as well as served on numerous volunteer committees dedicated to Nikkei history, human rights, and young leadership.

Theressa Takasaki is co-chair of the Archives Cluster, and Heritage Manager; Archives, Collections and Programming at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC), located in Toronto. Previously associated with the LOI project, she has curated multiple exhibits about Japanese Canadian culture and history.

Masumi Izumi is co-chair of the Archives Cluster, a Professor of North American Studies at the Department of Global and Regional Studies, Doshisha University, in Kyoto, Japan. She is a historian of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians, and she has written extensively about their wartime removal and incarceration as well as about their post-internment community building efforts. Masumi examines the racial persecutions of diasporic Japanese population in Canada and the US, and highlights the reactions and activism in the Japanese North American communities against such injustice.

Tomoko Shida is an archivist for the Archives Cluster, and works remotely for the project in Ottawa. Prior to joining the PWFC team, she worked as a secondary school history teacher in Tokyo, and more recently, as an archivist at the University of Toronto Mississauga Library. Born in Japan, she spent her earlier years in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec prior to moving to Ontario, so she is looking forward to revisiting some of her childhood haunts as she travels for the community sessions.

Spotlight Series Update

The plan for the international Spotlight Series is to draw together archival records from Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United States on various “spotlight” themes related to Nikkei during WWII. These primary sources will be translated and made available in English, Japanese and Portuguese.

Overseen by Cluster Co-Chairs Masumi and Theressa, progress on four Spotlights and additional supplementary primary sources has been underway with the help of Spotlight Fellows around the world.

The work of the Archives Cluster began in earnest in 2023 not with a Spotlight, but with the identification and digitization of  Supplementary Primary Sources which will be made available through the PWFC website in the records’ original language. During the spring and summer of 2023, Andrew Hasegawa spent months digitizing the hearing records of the Japanese in Alien Tribunal Transcripts archived in the National Archive in Australia. Andrew is a Yonsei researcher, former PWFC Scholar-in-Residence, and Governance Board member representing Nikkei Australia. Eric Muller at the University of North Carolina has hired research assistants to help create plain-English summaries of the provisions of the Administrative Manual of the War Relocation Authority.

Based in the United States, Spotlight Fellow, former PWFC Scholar-in-Residence, and PhD candidate in history at UC Santa Cruz, Jonathan van Harmelen leads the Legal Enactment Spotlight. Jonathan has identified the important laws that were used to justify the wartime incarceration of Nikkei communities in Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United States, and collected these documents from various archives in each country.

The Camp Garden Spotlight is being led by Sansei visual artist Elysha Rei based in Australia, who is also a PhD candidate, former PWFC Artist-in-Residence, and Chair of Nikkei Australia. This Spotlight will gather visual and archival materials on gardens created in Japanese incarceration camps in Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. Working with Elysha are the following Spotlight Fellows: US-based Sansei/Yonsei Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA, Koji Lau-Ozawa; Canada-based Sansei Leanne Sumiko Riding who specializes in research on the Yellowhead-Blue River Highway Labour Camp; and Brazil-based Yonsei visual artist, photographer and designer, Vinicius Nakashima.

The Education Spotlight is being led by cluster co-chair Theressa. This Spotlight will collect visual and archival materials related to schools and other educational facilities in the camps. Working with Theressa are Kei Nakatsu, a Yonsei undergraduate student in Human Geography and Art History at the University of Toronto; and Australia-based Andrew Hasegawa.

Work on a fourth Medical Spotlight began in  January 2024, and is being led by Canada-based Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Victoria, Letitia Johnson. Her doctoral dissertation examined Japanese Canadian health, healthcare and healthcare providers during internment. Andrew Hasegawa will also be working with Letitia on this spotlight to source records from Australia.

PWFC JC Community Partners: Outreach workshop opportunities

A major goal for 2024 is to begin planning and running community outreach sessions to support our Japanese Canadian partner associations and societies and their members to learn about, preserve, and teach their own histories. We are actively seeking hosts and collaborators across Canada!

The aim of these community sessions is (1) to support Japanese Canadian individuals and families to access records and information shared on the Landscapes of Injustice (LOI) research database, and (2) to provide training in collections management and support the preservation of Japanese Canadian and Japanese diaspora materials.

The Archives Cluster has professionally trained archivists who are available to travel to your community or host an online session. Some ideas about what we can offer include (but are not limited to!):

  • Workshop on how to navigate the LOI database, and how to understand the archival records found in it
  • Workshop on preserving and digitizing family or group records
  • Workshop on how to use and access archival records related to Japanese Canadians held at archives in Canada
  • Booth at your event to field questions related to the LOI database, PWFC project, researching Japanese Canadian or family history, etc.
  • Consultation meetings for Japanese Canadian groups looking into preserving the group’s history and records
  • Other requests are welcome!

If you are  a Japanese Canadian organization or group not already affiliated with PWFC and would like to partner with us for an event, workshop or project in 2024 and beyond, please reach out to us at [email protected].