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Historical photos of Japanese-Canadian internment now accessible online

Historical photographs depicting the Japanese-Canadian internment are now available for viewing online through the Burnaby-based Nikkei National Museum.

The project has put more than 2,000 photos online, thanks to the Irving K Barber British Columbia History Digitization Program at the University of British Columbia.

The images record the forced removal from the B.C. coast of more than 22,000 Canadians of Japanese heritage into internment camps starting in early 1942. Many families were separated, and homes, businesses and personal belongings were seized, and later sold.

They were forced to live in harsh conditions in remote, mountainous areas of Central B.C. until the end of the war, when they were given the option to move east of the Rockies or go to Japan. Their freedom was restricted until they were given the right to vote in 1949.

The museum has now provided online access, through nikkeimuseum.org, of 2,144 historic internment-related photographs, 219 artifacts and 104 audio tapes.

“The images vary from remote mountain settlements, to family activities, work life and special events,” said Beth Carter, director-curator of the museum, in a press release. “We hope these new online resources will help facilitate a greater recognition and a better understanding of internment camps, and the harsh conditions endured by the Japanese Canadian community in the 1940s.”

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