About LOI digital archive

About LOI digital archive


The LOI digital archive is a set of special collections, curated by the Landscapes of Injustice (LOI) research collective, that presents thousands of records related to Japanese-Canadian history and the dispossession of their property in the 1940s. It offers visitors the opportunity to browse and search this immense collection of primary source documents with ease; and stands as a testament to a historical injustice. Under the guidance of Project Director Jordan Stanger-Ross, the LOI digital archive team created this site during the last three years of the seven-year project as part of knowledge mobilization efforts which also include a narrative website, a touring museum exhibit (Broken Promises), as well as primary and secondary school teaching resource sites.
It is important to remember that, in general, these are records of loss. They tell a story of government policy designed to harm its own citizens as well as the general public’s complicity in the dispossession. But these records also share stories of unity between Japanese Canadians and their allies who fought for social justice. We make this collection available to the public in an effort to democratize access to information about Canada’s troubled past. By making it available online in a fully searchable collection, Canadians can view primary documents about this history while avoiding the prohibitive costs of travel to national and provincial institutions and without special training in archival research. At a 2019 conference on Canadian archives and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “Calls to Action,” at First Peoples House, UVic, Ry Moran, then Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, declared that archivists have an opportunity to be “righteous truth warriors” when they preserve and disseminate records of Canada’s injustices. When making difficult histories known to the public they act as “sentinels” of human rights violations. With this role in mind, we present this archive to the public and hope that Canadians will engage these records in their own pursuit of the truth.

Production of the Archive

Lisa Uyeda, Collections Manager at Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNM), and Stewart Arneil, Manager at Humanities and Computing and Media Centre (HCMC) at the University of Victoria, co-chaired the digital archive team. Research Assistants at NNM and UVic worked under their supervision and Community Council members Sally Ito and Tosh Kitagawa supported them with guidance and consultation. This project would also not be possible without the researchers who went to the original repositories across BC, Canada, and the United Kingdom to gather materials (see archival index) as well as the institutions that agreed to have their material shared on this site. Additionally, oral historians interviewed over a hundred people, many from the Nisei generation (second-generation Japanese Canadians), to enrich the site with personal stories never before heard. In sum, this site offers 34,931 html documents (see stats) to those interested in learning through primary resources about the dispossession and Japanese-Canadian history.
The digital archive team’s greatest challenge was to harmonise this incredibly massive and diverse set of records, from archival material to land titles, legal decisions, and oral histories, in a single digital archive. Drawing on the expertise of Uyeda and Arneil, the cluster developed a unique solution to this problem by blending digital humanities (DH) programming [Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)] with Canadian archival standards for metadata entry [Rules of Archival Description (RAD)]. TEI is an international encoding convention used in many university DH projects and RAD is a widely accepted guideline for archival work in Canadian institutions. The marriage of TEI and RAD presented the team with a novel challenge as they navigated the strict standards of each to form a cohesive partnership. Like all partnerships, the concept involved a great deal of compromise. RAD requirements had to be scaled back to the most important components and TEI needed to accept a bespoke data structure that reflected the variety of documents and physical hierarchies inherited from the original repositories. Lead programmer Joey Takeda then wrote specialized processing code to bring it all together. Researchers, archivists and programmers adopted loving nicknames such as TINA (this is not an archive) and RADish to reflect the peculiar identity of this project. But the end result is a dynamic, fully searchable site of thousands of records, featuring an interface familiar to Canadian archivists in look and feel but also unique to the project, and all in XML to assure the longevity and preservation of the data.

Community Partners

Landscapes of Injustice and the digital archive team has had the generous guidance and support of the Japanese-Canadian community, including partnerships with NNM, the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC), and the Vancouver Japanese Language School & Japanese Hall (VJLS), as well as with a Community Council (CC) which represents these groups as well as the larger community in project matters. For the digital archive team, Ito and Kitagawa have been instrumental in assuring that the site matches community use needs and expectations. They have also guided the project on language-use for document descriptions and the handling of oral histories. Ito and Kitagawa also provided the team with advice on how to handle records containing sensitive information (see privacy policy).



About LOI digital archive
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Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.