A Call for Justice: Fighting for Japanese Canadian Redress Exhibit, Blog & Crowdfunding Campaign
The crowdfunding campaign began as a way to fund the exhibit, but developed a life of its own with a daily blog with 280+ blog entries sharing the personal challenges of dealing with racial prejudice and systemic racism in Canada. The blog became somewhat of an exhibit in its own right: a chronicle of artifacts that served to answer why redress was warranted. Teachers were able to use it in advance of visiting the physical exhibit or reference it post-visit if the students had questions. Sharing on Facebook and Twitter allowed our visitors to help by educating and advocating outside of the blog and physical exhibit.
The Japanese community in Regina is experiencing a demographic shift. We believed that hosting “A Call for Justice: Fighting for Japanese Canadian Redress” exhibit would be a great opportunity to highlight the history of Japanese Canadians; especially with our growing population who were unaware of the injustices that Japanese Canadians experienced leading up to, during, and following World War II.
There are still many Canadians who do not understand that the Japanese Canadians who were displaced, interned, disenfranchised, and expropriated of all property, were in fact Canadian citizens and that they continue to be stigmatized by the belief that they were a threat to this country. There are still those who argue that the injustices suffered by Japanese Canadians were justified because of what the Japanese military did to Canadians during WWII. The only way to combat that kind of ignorance is through education.
Few Canadians know the story of Japanese Canadians or that the injustices suffered by them are paralleled in the collective histories of many ethnic and minority groups in Canada. It is our firm belief, that by continuing to engage with the most difficult aspects of our past, Canada will be better equipped to address the challenges of the future. For, this is not just the story of Japanese Canadians. It’s the story of all Canadians.
Making a Difference:
When the blog garnered national attention, people from across Canada started writing to us about their own experiences during this time. Our immigrant population learned about what happened to our seniors and developed a new respect for them. Nearly four generations later, there was a sense that it was “okay to be Japanese again” and that we could come out of the shadows and join the larger community.
The decision to host the exhibit is not one we undertook lightly. We didn’t have our own building or place to host the exhibit. At a budget nearly triple our annual operating cost, we knew we needed help to pull it off. We did our best to secure a corporate sponsor but the political nature of the exhibit appeared to be a deterrent for sponsorship. In the end, we decided to give crowdfunding a try. Finally, it was a challenge to keep the daily blog going, especially when we ended up doubling the length of the exhibit to six months, but there was never a shortage of material and we enjoyed doing it.
Vision for the Future:
1. A history book of stories from members within our community.
2. An interactive educational website directed at gr. 9-12 students that examines other marginalized and disadvantaged groups in Canada.
It is hard to think about how what we've done has made some sort of systemic change. We are just a small cog in that effort, but by ensuring that we continue to engage with this story on a personal level, we fight ignorance and racism at its core and ensure that, at the very least, our little cog is turning in the right direction.
The Regina Japanese Canadian Club Inc. (RJCC) is a community group that began in the 1920s. The RJCC organizes a variety of annual activities in order to support the continuance of Japanese heritage and culture for its members, as well as, showcasing and celebrating Japanese culture with the larger multi-cultural community.