December 14th, 2017

Input sought on Nikkei project

By Martin, Tijana on July 5, 2017.

Tijana Martin

Lethbridge Herald

The University of Lethbridge and Plymouth University have been working together on the Nikkei Memory Capture Project, but now they are seeking to hear from southern Albertans to improve their research.

The project focuses on Canadian Nikkei – people of Japanese descent – and explores their cultural and social history during the second half of the 20th century.

“That whole story of the post-war era, the way history has been written and heritage has been commemorated, so much of it has been about the victimization of the Canadians of Japanese descent and the recovery after that – the trauma,” said Darren Aoki, a southern Alberta-born Nikkei, assistant professor in world history at the University of Plymouth and adjunct associate professor in the history department at the U of L, in a press release.

“While that story is fundamental, it gets so much attention that other stories are not coming forward. A lot of history glosses over this post-war time and jumps straight to Japanese Canadians being in a good place now, point A to point B, sad to happy. We’re looking for a better understanding of how that happened and if it’s really true.”

Aoki began his research in 2011 and shortly afterwards, he approached the U of L and the Centre for Oral History and Tradition. Since then, he’s been collaborating with Carly Adams, a U of L kinesiology and physical education professor.

Aoki noted that many are unaware that southern Alberta is a key cultural centre for Japanese Canadians.

“We want some recognition of the importance of this area, an understanding if this centre had not prospered in the way it has, I think the way Japanese Canadian society has developed across Canada might be different,” he said. “This is one of the most important centres right across North America if not the Americas in terms of the movement of Japanese people during and after the war.”

This month, multiple events are scheduled, allowing residents the opportunity to engage in the process.

“We’re not just looking for Japanese Canadians to participate either,” said Adam. “We’re interested in talking to everyone who was in the Lethbridge community during the 1950 to 1970 period.”

The launch for “Stop the Presses! Japanese-Canadians in 20th century Southern Alberta newspapers,” a three-month exhibition, takes place at the Galt this Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m and is free to attend. The launch will include a keynote speech on the exhibition, sake tasting and more.

A dinner series will take place at Nikka Yuko on July 13 and 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring a set menu from Koko and a panel discussion on how food and sports contributed to the post-war histories of the Nikkei in southern Alberta.

Lastly, on July 14-15, Nikka Yuko will be celebrating its anniversary and a Memory Capture Booth will be set up in the Asian Market from 12-5 p.m. on the Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

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