As part of UBC’s efforts to recognize Japanese Canadians affected by internment in 1942, the university is asking the Asian Canadian community to help guide the creation of an interdisciplinary program that will highlight the contributions of Asian Canadians and examine anti-Asian racism that produced events like the forced removal of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.
The new Asian Canadian Studies minor program in the Faculty of Arts was announced by Dean Gage Averill at Addressing injustice: UBC’s Response to the internment of Japanese Canadians students, a symposium held by the University to explore its own role and response to the internment of 76 Japanese Canadian students in 1942.
“The goal of the Asian Canadian Studies program is to learn from anti-Japanese and anti-Asian racism and discrimination in our history so that future generations can engage better in issues of justice, equity and inclusion,” said Averill. “Our commitment in the Faculty of Arts is to help nurture our future citizens and leaders so that they can strive to build a more tolerant and just society.”
The program will be developed by an advisory committee made up of faculty, students and community members.
“We will consult and listen to those both on and off campus who have a stake in this program so that it will reflect a genuine engagement between UBC and the communities it serves,” said Henry Yu, the UBC professor who is leading the community consultation for this program.
“Students should learn about the events of 70 years ago through the lives of those who endured the racism and discrimination, and through the actions of those who spoke out and stood up against injustice.”
In November 2011, the UBC Senate unanimously approved three measures to recognize and understand what happened to Japanese Canadian UBC students in 1942. These measures include recognizing the students with honorary degrees, preserving and bringing to life the historical record of that time, and developing initiatives to educate future students about this period in history.
Once the details for the proposed program are created out of community consultations, the Faculty of Arts will present them to the UBC Senate for final approval.
The initial framework for the program will be multidisciplinary, with courses in history, literature, sociology, and other departments in the Faculty of Arts, as well new interdisciplinary courses with a core element of community engagement. The intention is to begin a process of community consultation this spring in order to make the program available to students beginning in fall 2013.
For more information about the tribute for Japanese Canadian UBC students of 1942, please visit: http://japanese-canadian-student-tribute.ubc.ca