REGISTERED is an exhibition of colour photographs that examine places of power and persecution and the experiences of Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia during World War II when they were registered, rounded up, and removed.
On December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Canada declared war on Imperial Japan. Even before Pearl Harbor, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had registered all Japanese Canadians over the age of sixteen. Individuals were issued registration cards with a photo and thumbprint, and were required to carry their cards at all times.
Approximately 22,000 persons of the “Japanese race” were forcibly uprooted. Thousands were held in the Livestock Building in Vancouver’s Hastings Park before being moved inland. Most Japanese Canadians spent the war in primitive internment camps in remote areas of the BC interior.
REGISTERED consists of three installations: Vancouver newspaper clippings from the 1940s; individual registration cards issued by the RCMP; and interpretive photographs of buildings in British Columbia where the story played out. These are the buildings where 22,000 Japanese Canadians originally lived, worked, and studied, and subsequently were registered, detained, and interned during World War II.
These existing structures hold the DNA of the story as it unfolded in the 1940s. They include the former Japanese community around Powell Street (e.g., the Japanese Language School); places of power in Vancouver where Orders in Council issued under the War Measures Act were enacted (e.g., the old RCMP Barracks); and the site of the former Tashme internment camp, just past the town of Hope, BC.
The exhibition’s three sections look at the people, the places, and the press in British Columbia during the war. REGISTERED was inspired by Requiem (HarperCollins, 2011) written by award-winning Canadian novelist Frances Itani.