Righting a historical wrong: Esquimalt Japanese tea house on topic at UVic’s Ideafest

Understanding the local complicity in the destruction of tea house in 1942

A dark time in history gets a new light shone on it with an upcoming event at the University of Victoria’s week-long Ideafest.

On March 9 at 10 a.m., ‘Righting a historical wrong: Complicity and reparation in the case of the Esquimalt Japanese tea garden,’ takes an in-depth look into the destruction of the tea house and the complicity of everyday Canadians with presentations from researchers from the Landscapes of Injustice project.

RELATED: Victoria ‘f**kup’ event shines a light on failure

Jordan Stanger-Ross, project director and associate professor for the Department of History says that while this incident is well known the public is still missing vital pieces of the story.

“I think people know that Japanese Canadians were uprooted and interned during the 1940s, they know less about the destruction and loss of property that happened … and they know even less about the extent of local responsibility for that,” says Stanger-Ross.

Hayato Takata and Yoshitaro Kishida established the tea house and garden in 1907. Two Takata brothers started to run the garden as a family business in 1922 and when the family was interned in 1942 the property was vandalized and destroyed, with the rest of their belongings sold off by the government.

“Neighbours broke into, pillaged and destroyed property of Japanese Canadians, so much of it was lost without any form of accounting for it that local police along with federal authorities declined to pursue the issue of these criminal actions,” says Stanger-Ross.

RELATED: Victorians asked to help fill a bus with menstrual products for women in need

Stanger-Ross says despite the formal apology offered by the Canadian Government in 1988 there’s a much wider public responsibility for the losses the Japanese community has suffered than has been widely understood or acknowledged.

The Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS) launched a campaign to restore the tea-house in Gorge Park last August with deliberations still taking place.

Tsugio Kurushima, president of the VNCS, sees this event and the restoration campaign as reconciliation at the local level.

“We’re basically asking to right a wrong that was done in Esquimalt,” says Kurushima.

RELATED: Ballet Victoria stages a musical masterpiece

The event will outline various documents outlining the history and situating it within the context of 1940s.

“We’ll be talking about documents that describe the extent of the damage done by local residents in a scramble just destroying and stealing what was seen as valuable,” says Stanger-Ross. “Just wrecking it in a fashion that when federal authorities came through they were actually shocked to see the scale of destruction.”

Both Stanger-Ross and Kurushima believe this event makes a move in the right direction.

“I think if we want to be the society that many of us hope we might be we need to be open to engaging in an ongoing basis with our past and with the people and legacies of that past,” says Stanger-Ross.

For more information on the event or Ideafest visit uvic.ca/ideafest.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

 

Just Posted

Juan de Fuca curlers ‘reeling’ after learning rink will be replaced with dry floor

West Shore Parks & Recreation board says curling rinks not getting enough use

The rock is no more for Oak Bay ‘Sea Lore’

Council calls for change to controversial location proposed for art installation

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Disappearance of Merritt cowboy now deemed suspicious: police

Ben Tyner was reported missing when his riderless horse was discovered on a logging road

Most Read