February 10 – May 27, 2018

Exhibit by Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon with Keri Latimer

BETA VULGARIS: The Sugar Beet Projects explores the relationship between the seemingly innocuous material of sugar and Japanese Canadian history in Western Canada (specifically, British Columbia and Alberta). Within the sugar beet, contrasts emerge between the expression of sugar’s purity, genericity, and neutrality and its history and conditions of labour.

During the Second World War, the labour shortage, lack of secure cargo shipping and need to supply troops overseas with sugar resulted in the BC Securities Commission Council organizing “the Sugar Beet Projects”. As part of their internment, Japanese Canadian families were allowed to remain together only if they agreed to move to the Prairies or Ontario to work the sugar beet fields. The forced labour of Japanese Canadians supplied support for 65% of Alberta’s sugar beet acreage during the war.

In combination with the displacement of Japanese Canadian families to internment camps, approximately 20,880 Japanese were uprooted, 13,309 of whom were Canadian citizens by birth. The majority of older Japanese nationals had already lived in Canada for 25-40 years. Within the blink of an eye, entire communities disappeared overnight, leaving fractured and disoriented neighbourhoods behind.

For BETA VULGARIS: The Sugar Beet Projects, the Nikkei National Museum’s gallery will be transformed into a Japanese dry garden, punctuated by large sculptural ‘boulders’ made of molten, burnt, and sculpted sugar. A wooden boardwalk will traverse overtop of this landscape conflating the “hills of Mission” to the flat, striated furrows of the sugarbeet fields in southern Alberta.

Fleeting video imagery will be projected onto the sugared surfaces –the residue of heavy labour, sweat, dirt, repetitive topping and the intense subterfuge action used to distill impurities from the sugar molecule. Woven into the development of this project is a personal, but common Japanese Canadian narrative, of displacement, disenfranchisement, and disorientation. A contemporary interpretive koto soundscape will be overlayed into this space by Keri Latimer.

Original soundtracks by Keri Latimer



OPENING RECEPTION, February 10, 2-4pm
Live music by Keri Latimer + tea ceremony by Maiko Behr

FILM SCREENING, March 3, 2pm
'Facing Injustice - The Relocation of Japanese Canadians to Manitoba', Past Perfect Productions

ARTIST TALK, March 10, 2pm
Live music by Keri Latimer + tea ceremony by Maiko Behr

CHILDREN'S WORKSHOP, March 11, 12-4pm
Musical instrument making workshop with Keri Latimer

WAGASHI WORKSHOP, April 7, 2-4pm
Wagashi making workshop with Misae Sakaguchi

BETA VULGARIS:シュガービーツ・プロジェクト

「BETA VULGARIS:シュガービーツ・プロジェクト」展は、カナダの西部(特にブリティッシュ・コロンビア州とアルバータ州)における一見無害な砂糖と日系カナダ人の歴史を探ります。砂糖大根から、砂糖の純度、一般性、中立性、またその歴史と労働条件の対照的な要因が考察されます。