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Museum of Surrey hosts celebration of ‘Broken Promises’ exhibit

March 31 event ‘a touching and poignant commemoration’ of Japanese-Canadian experience

As the Museum of Surrey’s current exhibit draws toward its closing date, local dignitaries and community members, including those directly impacted by Canada’s racist wartime policies, came together to celebrate ‘Broken Promises.’

The exhibition showcases the personal histories of people from seven Japanese Canadian families interned during the Second World War.

The March 31 event, which was postponed until spring due to pandemic restrictions, included an Indigenous welcome by SFN Chief Harley Chappell, private exhibit viewing, in-person ASL interpretation, speeches, and a lively performance by the Satsuki Kai dance group.

Lorene Oikawa, who wrote the intro for the exhibit’s local content display ‘Surrey’s Forgotten History,’ spoke about her personal story of being a Surrey resident and fifth generation Canadian. She shared about the racism she has experienced over the years and told stories of how her grandparents dealt with being interned during WW2, losing property, possessions, jobs, community, and relationships.

READ ALSO: Museum of Surrey’s new ‘Broken Promises’ explores ‘dark part of Canadian history’

READ ALSO: Wartime letters between Surrey teen and interned Japanese friends spark search for descendants

“It was a touching and poignant commemoration of the Japanese-Canadian experience with a lot of emotion,” said Museum of Surrey Manager Lynn Saffery.

“There were somber moments when the reality of what Japanese Canadians experienced was told, but then joyful when the dancers brought us to our feet.”

Co-curated by the Nikkei National Museum with the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Landscapes of Injustice research collective, this bilingual (English-French) travelling exhibition, which uncovers a dark part of Canadian history, runs until Sunday, April 24.

On May 10, the museum’s Textile Programs take over the Feature Galley with the activation ‘Untangling Textiles,’ offering displays, demonstrations, and textile teaching. Dozens of textile artists and craftspeople will be featured over three months.

Museum of Surrey, located at 17710 56A Ave. in Surrey, is on the Heritage Campus, home to Veterans Square, Anderson Cabin, 1881 Town Hall and Anniedale School. For more information, visit

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