A view of the row houses in Tashme where thousands of Japanese Canadians were interned during World War II. (Photo credit: Nikkei National Museum 1994-69-4-27)

A view of the row houses in Tashme where thousands of Japanese Canadians were interned during World War II. (Photo credit: Nikkei National Museum 1994-69-4-27)

5-year anniversary of the Tashme Museum near Hope will be celebrated virtually

Recent Japanese-Canadian generations to read haiku written by interned ancestors

It’s been five years since the opening of the Tashme Museum near Hope, in the Sunshine Valley, and they’re celebrating the milestone by sharing the words of those interned there nearly 80 years ago.

Featuring Japanese Canadian theatre artist Julie Tamiko Manning (“The Tashme Project: The Living Archives”), Word Vancouver presents the Tashme haiku reading event on Sunday, Sept. 26.

However, although it’s a celebratory event, the commemorations are being held virtually this year, which has turned out to be a bit of a silver-lining, allowing people from across the world to partake and tune in.

“Because of COVID, Julie was not able to fly out here, though this was the plan we … had budgeted (for),” explained Laura Saimoto, one of Tashme’s strongest advocates.

From her position of safety on the other side of everyone’s monitor, Julie Tamiko Manning will recite the haiku her grandfather wrote while a member of the Tashme Haiku Club, formed by interned Japanese during World War II. Reading from Montreal, Manning with be joined by author Isabella Mori, and heritage activist Laura Saimoto will join from Vancouver.

Located in the Sunshine Valley, near Hope, this event is part of the fifth anniversary of the opening of the Tashme Museum, which honours the Japanese-Canadians interned there by their own government during the second World War. Tashme, the largest Japanese-Canadian internment camp in the country, housed 2,600 residents from 1942-46.

Jacqueline Pearce, Jean-Pierre Antonio and Michiko Kihira have been leading a massive project to translate into English half of the 600 haiku written by members of the Tashme Haiku Club during their internment.

Originating in Japan, haiku is a form of short poetry consisting of three phrases containing kireji, a cutting word, and phonetic units similar to syllables in a five-seven-five pattern, and a kigo, a seasonal reference. Using these literary guidelines, members of Tashme held onto their culture with pencil in hand, writing haiku that captured the deeply emotional moments of both beauty and hardships that were internment life.

READ MORE: VIDEO – Latest Heritage Minute episode filmed near Hope and features some dark local history

Open to the public, the event will be streamed online, and hosted by Word Vancouver, with the help of Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, the Sunshine Valley’s Tashme Museum, and the Vancouver Japanese Language School.

To tune into this incredible event, organizers ask virtual attendees to register at the following site: https://trellis.org/haiku.

It will allow “everyone across Canada and in the US (to tune in),” said Saimoto. “My relatives in Japan will be tuning in. I have family out east, in the US and in Japan who are tuning it. It’s great that it will have (such a) wide reach.”

And once COVID’s over for once and all, Saimoto is optimistic about Japanese descendants and tourists alike making the trip out to Hope and the Tashme Museum, Saimoto added. “It’s a way for everyone to connect, appreciate, and be inspired.”

For more information about the Tashme Museum, please email TashmeMuseum@gmail.com. For more information about the Tashme Haiku Translation Project, please email Jaqueline Pearce at jacquiepea@telus.net.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

historyhopeJapanese Canadians