Heritage BC has selected the Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum for a Heritage BC Award in the heritage education and awareness category.
Museum curator Ryan Ellan will attend the awards gala on Feb. 15 in Vancouver to receive the Heritage BC Honour Award, which is the second-highest honour from Heritage BC.
Ellan’s museum and the Tashme Historical Project 1942-1946 website, are dual recipients of the award.
“We were impressed for a number of reasons,” said Heritage BC board past-president Helen Cain. “The presence of the internment camp in the 1940s is a very important issue to bring to the awareness of British Columbians, and the combination of the museum and the website do an excellent job of bringing public awareness.”
Cain noted that while both projects were entered in separate nominations, Heritage BC decided to give these two projects the education and awareness category award because they felt the projects shared similar intentions.
“The place is the focus. It is what we could call a historic cultural landscape. We decided to award it to both together because really the intent is to make sure that the memory of Tashme remains alive,” said Cain. “And also, the participation of people who were interned there occurred in both projects, so there’s a lot of crossover between them.”
A panel of jurists came together via teleconference in the late fall.
Cain said that winning the Heritage BC award brings provincial recognition to the project that highlights that the legacy of Japanese-Canadians to people beyond Sunshine Valley.
Ellan received the call on Jan. 9 that informed him that he won the award. Linda Reid of the Nikkei National Museum in Burnaby nominated Ellan.
“Bit of a surprise, but obviously mixed emotions — happy, proud — but very humbling that the National Museum would actually put a nomination in for me for my work on Tashme Museum.”
Since the last time The Standard visited the museum in September, Ellan said he has received a lot of support from people.
“It’s nice having people walk through the door and learn about this piece of Canadian history that most people are not aware of,” said Ellan. “Obviously, being the 75th anniversary of Japanese-Canadian internment, it’s very important that the history gets out.”
Ellan said he continuously adds to the museum and is looking to expanding his museum beyond the room that it currently sits in.