A new exhibit at Qualicum Beach Museum, created by UVic and VIU student research, describes 150 years of Indigenous People’s and Asian Canadians living on the Island, helping to create its communities and infrastructure, and having to fight against racist policies.
The exhibit, titled 150 Years and Counting: Fighting for Justice on the Coast, looks at these struggles and the people who resisted oppression.
The exhibit touches on First Nations land rights and uses, what is required to have Indian “status” according to the government, Japanese internment, the town of Paldi (founded by Sikh immigrants but lived in by South Asian, Japanese, Chinese and European families) and more.
One of the exhibit’s stories of resilience describes how Indigenous Peoples and Chinese settlers lost the right to vote when B.C. entered confederation in 1871. Tomekichi Homma, leading member of the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society took B.C. to court over the decision and won in County and B.C. Supreme Court. The B.C. government had to appeal to the British Privy Council in London to gain a ruling against Homma.
These and many more stories of discrimination and resistance are told in the exhibit.
“We still live in a world where history is being told from a colonial approach, so this exhibit I think is trying to break that,” said museum manager Netanja Waddell.
“It’s easy for a lot of us to say, ‘Oh just get over it,’ or ‘Let’s move on.’ You can’t do that so easily if you understand the complexity of what they’ve been through, but it’s not being taught in schools so most of us do not know the extent that they had to deal with.”
She and Qualicum Beach Historical and Museum Society president Chris Lemphers said they are excited to have the exhibit at the museum for January and February, and for school groups and others to check it out starting Jan. 3.
For the museum calender and more info, go to www.qbmuseum.ca.