Basil Fuller. Photo: Watershed Productions

Basil Fuller. Photo: Watershed Productions

Missing Voices: Touchstones museum profiles underrepresented groups

Touchstones Nelson interviewed 15 people about their experiences living here

Keiko Fitz-Earle is pleased the internment of Japanese-Canadians in World War Two will finally be represented at Nelson’s Touchstones museum.

“This discrimination should never occur again,” she says. “This will make people aware that we are all humans.”

Missing Voices profiles local people whose histories or experiences have yet to be represented at the collection.

The 15 individuals each have their own under-two-minute video made by Watershed Productions.

Fitz-Earle, one of the 15, says her generation of Japanese-Canadians don’t have any adult memories of the Second World War internment camps, several of which existed in the Slocan Valley.

Japanese Canadians and other Canadians all need education about how internees were treated, she says.

Keiko Fitz-Earle. Photo: Watershed Productions

Keiko Fitz-Earle. Photo: Watershed Productions

“They were Canadian, that’s the important part,” she says. “They were Canadian citizens.”

In the video, she sits an an outdoor table on her peaceful rural property, making an origami swan, telling us this story:

I was born in Japan and moved to Canada with my mother and brother when I was 13. We lived with my grandmother. I didn’t speak a word of English. I missed my friends. During World War II, my grandparents, uncle and aunt, were interned in camps along with over 20 thousand people of Japanese ancestry.

Like most, my grandparents were Canadian citizens. My grandfather was one of 12,000 people who worked in the interior of B.C. He died in the New Denver camp a broken man. My grandmother reluctantly talked about her internment experience. My uncle and aunt, who were forced to relocate to Toronto, were traumatized by the experience and refused to visit B.C. ever.

The Japanese internment in the Interior is missing from this [museum] collection. We need to acknowledge the history. We belong here. This origami crane symbolizes peace, hope, and healing, which are my sincere wishes.

Missing Voice: Keiko Fitz-Earle from Touchstones Nelson on Vimeo.

Touchstones executive director Astrid Heyerdahl says the museum (as opposed to the gallery) has not changed since it opened in 2006.

Even though there were no internment camps in Nelson, historical events from neighbouring areas “really affect who we are as a community, so to not speak directly to Japanese internment in the museum is a huge void.”

She said she and Bohigian asked their participants to tell Touchstones how it could do better as a museum. What could the museum do to make them feel they are somehow represented there?

“We invited people to call us out,” Heyerdahl says, “and this is an important small first step in our work to be truly relevant and to actually respond and create systemic change in an organization like a museum [with its] colonial historical associations.”

She said it will take years of fundraising and planning to re-do the museum, and this video project is a short-term rectification.

“We said, ‘How can we change this, now?’”

But she emphasizes that the videos are just a beginning.

Basil Fuller welcomes the video that depicts him with his 18-wheel truck on a West Kootenay highway. Here’s what he says in his video:

I emigrated from Jamaica directly to the Kootenays in 2013.

Back in Jamaica I had my own trucking company. Racism was only a story I heard about like in a book when I lived in Jamaica. But when I got to Canada it got very real. I saw people being afraid of me. Once someone even asked to touch my skin.

I’m known as the Jamaican Ambassador. I have helped hundreds of immigrants get their trucking licence. I have been driving since 1995.

Folks like me who are labourers, immigrants, people of colour, we deserve a place in the museum. I don’t want any more fear, I just want unity. We belong here.

Missing Voices: Basil Fuller from Touchstones Nelson on Vimeo.

Amy Bohigian of Watershed Productions says she does not intend the 15 subjects to perfectly represent particular groups or experiences.

“That would be false because no one person can represent an entire group, but the people we did connect with were really great fits for the project.”

She says the project is a gathering of community stories.

“I really respect Astrid for opening this up for people other than the people who usually have the microphone of history. Let’s be inclusive, lets pass the microphone. That is why I felt called to do this. This is a great beginning.”

All 15 videos can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/498002197.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Les Cleverly, formerly of Grand Forks Fire/Rescue, is suing the city as well as current and former city firefighters over alleged workplace bullying and defamation. File photo.
Former Grand Forks firefighter suing department, city over alleged conspiracy, constructed dismissal

Plaintiff Les Cleverly filed a notice of civil claim with the Supreme Court of BC in last week

From the left, Midway RCMP seized suspected cannabis, cocaine and fentanyl from a truck pulled over by Conservation Service Officers in the West Boundary Monday, Jan. 17. Photo submitted
Midway RCMP find suspected drugs in traffic stop by Conservation Service Officers

Cpl. Phil Peters said the CSOs were stopping local hunters on Highway 33

A Grand Forks Fire/Rescue water tanker makes it way up the hill on Gibbs Creek Road after a homeowner doused a chimney fire Wednesday, Jan. 20. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Rural Grand Forks homeowner douses chimney fire

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue said the man’s quick thinking put out the flames

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

The flag that would normally fly at the Grand Forks Legion was cut down early Sunday, Jan. 17, according to Grand Forks RCMP. Photo courtesy of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 059
Flag vandalized at Grand Forks’ Royal Canadian Legion

Grand Forks RCMP said no one saw who cut down the flag Sunday morning, Jan. 17

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

RCMP officers provide policing for 63 B.C. municipalities under a provincial formula based on population. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. communities warned of upcoming RCMP unionization costs

Starting salaries for city police officers are 30% higher

(Pxhere)
B.C. nurse suspended after using Tensor bandage to trap long-term care patient in room

Susan Malloch voluntarily agreed to a three-day suspension of her certificate of registration

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Abbotsford’s Skully White (left), who donated his kidney in December, has started a campaign to find other recipients and donors. The first candidate is retired police officer Gavin Quon. White owns and operates a hotdog stand, Lullys Food Experience, out of the Abbotsford Canadian Tire parking lot. (Facebook photo)
After donating his kidney, Abbotsford hotdog king starts donor campaign

Skully White donated his kidney to customer Tim Hiscock in December

Toronto-based director Michelle Latimer was recently scrutinized after years of claiming she was of Algonquin and Metis descent. (CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)
Haida activist calls for hefty fines, jail time against those who claim to be Indigenous

Filmmaker Tamara Bell proposing the Indigenous Identity Act – to dissuade ‘Indigenous identity theft’

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Most Read