Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Kayla Isomura’s The Suitcase Project opens at library

A special multimedia exhibit opens at the Salt Spring Island Public Library program room this week, with the artist also providing a talk on opening night.

The Suitcase Project by Kayla Isomura shares the experience and history of the Japanese Canadian community’s mass uprooting and internment in the 1940s in a personal way that viewers can feel and connect with.

“Through her photography and video of the participants’ packing process, supplemented by local archival photos, we will learn about this dark chapter of Canadian history and connect with how it impacts us today,” explains a press release from the Japanese Garden Society of Salt Spring Island (JGSSSI). “It is also an opportunity to reflect on the uprooting and dispossession of people around the world due to natural disasters, political instability and war.”

Isomura is a Vancouver-based photographer currently exploring intergenerational trauma and racialized identity.

The show opens at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 2, with Isomura giving a talk at 7 p.m.

The Suitcase Project can be viewed Mondays through Saturdays in June when the program room is not otherwise in use.

Two other related events are scheduled for the program room. On Friday, June 16 from 5 to 8 p.m., Susanne Hunter, MD and RCC, will offer a Community Workshop of Intergenerational Memories. Hunter will lead a gently guided exploration of intergenerational and collective trauma and healing through the Japanese Canadian uprooting experience.

“We are all affected by intergenerational and cultural trauma — sometimes from the distant and sometimes from the more recent past,” states press material. “In this workshop we are going to explore the mistreatment of Japanese Canadians on Salt Spring Island and in B.C. before, during and after World War II from the trauma perspective.”

Hunter’s workshop is limited to 15 participants and people should pre-register at

Then on Tuesday, June 27 at 7 p.m., SFU communications professor Kirsten Emiko McAllister presents a talk called Japanese Canadian Memory Projects: Rebuilding the Community and Recognizing Our Responsibilities Today.

“McAllister will explore how the community’s wider pursuit of social justice requires us to go beyond our own experiences of persecution and examine our responsibilities to Indigenous nations and our links to other groups facing persecution today,” states the JGSSSI.

The Suitcase Project event on Salt Spring is presented by the JGSSSI, with sponsorship from the Salt Spring Island Public Library.

The exhibition’s community talks and workshop are funded by the Salt Spring Foundation, archival photographs are courtesy of the Salt Spring Island Archives and this mini travelling version of The Suitcase Project is a loan from the Nikkei National Museum.

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