Project Structure

Landscapes of Injustice is divided into two phase, Research and Connection.

Research is conducted in six research clusters in the first four years of the project. The research generated will be disseminated in various manners, including a travelling museum exhibit, teacher resources, archival and public history websites and media outreach.

Phase 1: Research

This history requires significant and varied research. In the Research Phase (Years 1-4) of the project, our team is organized into “Research Clusters.” Each cluster takes its own approach to this history, and together they enable our team to tell the fullest possible history of the dispossession of Japanese Canadians.

Phase 2: Connection

Landscapes of Injustice is a knowledge mobilization project. In the Connection Phase (Years 5-7), “Knowledge Mobilization Clusters” will communicate our research to large and diverse audiences.

Connection: Years 5-8 2018-2022

Phase 2: Connection

Landscapes of Injustice is a knowledge mobilization project. In the Connection Phase (Years 5-7), “Knowledge Mobilization Clusters” will communicate our research to large and diverse audiences.

Museum Exhibit


This cluster will create a travelling museum exhibit aiming to convey the significance of Japanese Canadians to the history of the country, telling personal stories about the seizure and transfer of property belonging to Japanese Canadians, as well as making extensive use of all research materials, including archival photographs, personal statements, government documents, artefacts, statistics, and interactive GIS maps. The exhibit will be displayed across the country, engaging a general audience, as well as Japanese Canadian community members, in critical examination of the legacy of these events and their relation to the future of diversity, marginalization, and democratic citizenship in Canada. Partner museums in this aim include the Nikkei National Museum (NNM), the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 (Halifax), the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (Toronto), and the Royal BC Museum (RBCM), accompanied by public events and a final team gathering. At the conclusion of the tour, the exhibit becomes a resource of the NNM, available for further touring in BC, throughout Canada, and beyond.

Digital Research Database


This cluster will develop a website, hosted at UVIC, that enables researchers to access the data collected in Phase 1 and provides necessary contextual material for their use. The principle aim of this website is to foster future scholarly research, but it will also be accessible to a public audience and community historians. Students in this cluster will work with technical specialists of the Humanities Computing and Media Centre (HCMC) to develop user-friendly interfaces for users to download materials from the databases developed by the Legal History, Land Title, and Community Records and Directories clusters. This site will launch at the conclusion of the project, at an event held in conjunction with the RBCM finale museum exhibit.


Teacher Resources


Through a collaborative effort with BC teachers, team members, and students, this cluster will produce extensive teacher resources to encourage historical thinking and to provide evocative narrative context, guided access to primary sources, individual lesson plans, and instruction for positioning the material within existing curricula. This effort is informed by the pioneering Historical Thinking Project (, with an aim to create both primary and secondary material in both official languages.


Digital Storytelling Website


Working in collaboration with JOHN LUTZ, a leading developer of public historical websites in Canada, and LAURA MADOKORO, an emerging scholar of immigration and race in twentieth-century Canada, as well as the SFU library who will enact long-term preservation, this cluster aims to integrate research materials into an interactive website for public audiences. The website will convey a publicly accessible narrative, creating interactive visual presentations of selected primary sources (including maps of the four study sites), and challenging viewers to connect this history to the present politics of place.


Media and Outreach


This cluster is responsible for events and outreach throughout Phase 2. Working with other members of the team and the Advisory Board, this cluster will explore opportunities for (1) further outreach within the Japanese Canadian community; (2) events to be held at each of the study sites; (3) media exposure in major venues, such as newspapers and CBC’s Ideas program; (4) events to accompany the travel of the exhibit and the launch of the websites and teacher resources; (5) events connected to any other major scholarly publications, including the journal special issues, that emerge from the team in the course of the project; and (6) the development of networks for internationalization.

Phase 1 Research Years 1-4 2014-2018

Phase 1: Research

This history required significant and varied research. In the Research Phase (Years 1-4) of the project, our team was organized into “Research Clusters.” Each cluster took its own approach to this history, and together they enable our team to tell the fullest possible history of the dispossession of Japanese Canadians.

Land Title and Government Records


Our Land Title and Government Records research cluster combined land title and archival research, enabling our team to address previously unanswered questions: Who bought the properties, and how did these purchasers benefit? What became of the places that had previously housed Japanese Canadians, as the sales played out on the ground? We conducted title searches in four sites of study: (1) Vancouver, which prior to the dispossession included the oldest and largest Japanese Canadian enclave (in the present-day Downtown Eastside), as well as Japanese Canadians whose homes were dispersed throughout the rest of the city; (2) Fraser Valley farming communities in Maple Ridge; (3) Steveston, where a large Japanese Canadian settlement surrounded the fishing industry; and (4) Salt Spring Island, where the dispossession tore through a small community. In all, this cluster created unprecedented research infrastructure, analyzed the impacts of the dispossession policy, and charted its transformation of specific sites in British Columbia.

Oral History


The Oral History research cluster, led by Sugiman, incorporated the voices of Japanese Canadians into this project as well as the perspectives and memories of bystanders and witnesses. Unlike most previous interviews surrounding the internment and dispossession, we focused on the topic of property. Interviewers asked what was lost in the dispossession, but also what was saved: What did Japanese Canadians preserve for future generations? We explored the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next, collective and family memory, the reverberations of these events across multiple Japanese Canadian generations, and the role of gender, and other social categories, in shaping the processes of family and historical memory. Our team combined interviews of Canadians who both experienced and bore witness to this difficult history, joining scholars who have turned towards similarly multi-vocal explorations of the memories and legacies of traumatic historical events. Our team knows the value of oral history as historical evidence, but also as powerful human testimony. We recognize the need to hear these voices while the people most affected by the dispossession remain alive.

Community Records and Directories


The Community Records and Directories research cluster will collect, digitize, integrate, and analyze community records, directories, and photographs. The work will be led by Sherri Kajiwara, who will help to identify pertinent archival records and solicit new relevant materials at the Nikkei National Museum (NNM), and Stewart Arneil, who will oversee digitization and database construction at the Humanities Computing and Media Centre (HCMC) at UVIC. This cluster will process city directories for the study sites, starting with the directories for 1941-1942, just prior to the uprooting of the Japanese Canadian population, and for 1949, when restrictions on Japanese Canadians were lifted. This directory information will be linked to and checked against materials produced in the Historical GIS and Land Title research clusters, allowing our analysis of the study sites to include information on home ownership, renters, and local commerce. Having completed this profile of the study areas before and after dispossession, the cluster will process other materials, including photographs, community records, and Japanese Canadian community directories.

Legal History


The Legal History research cluster will conduct research into legal historical sources on the dispossession of Japanese Canadians. This includes legislative enactments (orders in council, statutes, bylaws) relating to Japanese Canadians and issued by the federal government and the local governments; the initial registry of Japanese Canadians; the uprooting, internment, forced dispersal, and deportation; restrictions on freedom of movement; and the loss of other property, such as fishing vessels and personal belongings. These enactments will be contextualized by tracing the broader political and social forces that produced and challenged them through newspaper research revealing public discussion of these regulations. We intend to situate this experience in relation to other British Commonwealth jurisdictions and the U.S. by examining divergences and convergences in constitutional context that both distinguish the Canadian experience from elsewhere and link it to a wider history of wartime dispossession.

Historical GIS


The Historical GIS research cluster will develop a spatial database that links the data collected by the other research clusters to “base maps” of the four study sites. This spatial database will serve as the basis for creating detailed geovisual representations and spatial analyses of changes in property ownership and the ethnic composition of neighbourhoods, as well as for georeferencing the locations associated with oral histories, historical photographs, and related qualitative and quantitative materials as different “layers” on interactive maps within a geographic information system (GIS). Identifying and scanning existing archival maps of the study areas, the GIS cluster will carry out, present, and publish spatial analysis.

Provincial Records


The Provincial Records research cluster was established in the second year of the project to identify and digitize materials of significance to our topic within the records of the Provincial Archives. The cluster will first assess the extent and the depth of documentation of the Provincial Government’s direct or indirect engagement in the dispossession of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, and then also explore related records, including the provincial archival holdings on Japanese Canadian experience more broadly, and the broader history of provincial engagement with questions of race and property ownership.

Project Structure