Japanese Canadian Hastings Park Commemoration and Education Project
By Judy Hanazawa
In the spring of 2010 the City of Vancouver organized a series of community public consultation events to provide information about the Hastings Park Redevelopment Project Master Plan and to invite members of the public to give feedback regarding this project. Japanese Canadian community organizations and individuals met with Hastings Park Master Planner Dave Hutch on August 27, 2010 to discuss community interest in establishing interpretive information about the wartime detention of Japanese Canadians in Hastings Park. A steering committee was established and officially communicated these concerns to Mayor Gregor Robertson in a letter dated October 5, 2010. In that letter and in a subsequent presentation to City Council on December 2, 2010, our main points of concern were stated as follows:
- Despite past acknowledgment of Japanese Canadian history in Hastings Park evident in projects such as the Momiji Garden and the presence of the Parks Canada commemorative plaque about the Japanese Canadian Internment, the experience of Japanese Canadians in Hastings Park continues to be largely unknown to the general public;
- Community concern that the Parks Canada ’Internment’ plaque should be moved to a more prominent and visible location;
- The need to take steps before more community elders pass on to further develop, provide, and maintain public education and knowledge about Japanese Canadian history in Hastings Park. There needs to be clear, widely visible commemorative and educational presentations in key, historic Hastings Park places, regarding our Hastings Park history;
- People must know about and not forget the detention of Japanese Canadians at Hastings Park and our community’s subsequent internment and dispersal between 1942 and 1949 so that such a thing will never again happen to anyone else;
- We feel our project concerning our historic relationship with Hastings Park serves everyone’s interest and not only that of Japanese Canadians.
What is the Japanese Canadian Hastings Park Commemorative and Educational Project?
There are four phases of educational presentations proposed between 2012 to 2017. They are:
Phase One - 2012
The first phase consisted of the relocation of the 1989 Parks Canada Japanese Canadian Internment Plaque to a prominent, visible location near the stone wall atop Momiji Garden, facing Hastings and Renfrew. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation Places That Matter Livestock Building Plaque was also mounted at the heritage entrance to the Livestock Building. The project was celebrated with a commemorative event at Hastings Park on December 1, 2012.
Phase Two - 2013 to 2015
The second phased consisted of mounting interpretive signage and developing a related website about the wartime Japanese Canadian detention in Hastings Park at the four remaining detention buildings: Livestock Building, Garden Auditorium, the Forum, and Rollerland. The Hastings Park Redevelopment Project through the City of Vancouver provided partial funding for the interpretive signage for the Livestock Building. Additional funding was provided by the BC Arts Council, the City of Vancouver, the National Association of Japanese Canadians, the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens Association and the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre. The Museum researched and developed the project with Director-Curator Beth Carter as Project Coordinator. The Project Committee continued to play a key, community-based role in overseeing the development of project concept and design, and to ensure interpretive presentations and other educational aspects present the lived experience and voice of Japanese Canadians.
Phase Three - 2015 to 2016
The committee wishes to explore the development of an indoor Interpretive Centre about the history of Japanese Canadians in Hastings Park in the Livestock Building as this building undergoes its renovation and upgrading. The parameters of this project are currently being discussed as we are aware it will require extensive project planning, community input and fundraising. Our vision for this project includes a commemorative naming of Hastings Park Detainees.
Phase Four - 2015 to 2017
Developing a Japanese Canadian commemorative presentation which would integrate with post 2014 improvements to Momiji Garden and surrounding area – including the possibility of erecting a Japanese Canadian commemorative gate near the site.
- It is important when a community’s historic experience is presented for public education, to make sure the lived experiences and stories of the people can be accurately presented, in their own words;
- The purpose of presenting stories of injustice is so the information becomes common public knowledge, is not forgotten, and acts as a deterrent to prevent further injustices from being inflicted upon any other community;
- It encourages knowledge and understanding about Japanese Canadian history which can be shared between immigrant and Canadian born Japanese Canadians, as well as between the generations in our community.