Kirsten McAllister, this month’s community profile subject, has spent much of her adult life exploring the landscape, or terrain, of memory. It’s not always a benign or easily navigable landscape, as she makes clear in the interview. Still, for those brave enough to wade into the murky waters of memory, particularly when there is trauma involved, there are valuable lessons and insights to be gained. In Kirsten’s case, she has spent a great deal of time working in her own community, exploring the collected memories contained within archival objects, photographs and writings as well as the memories of those who lived through the internment camp experience.
Several lengthy stays in New Denver allowed Kirsten to gain a deeper and more profound insight into the lives and memories of the elders who remained after the war, many of whom have now passed on.
What I’m reminded of, reading Kirsten’s description of her time studying the internment experience is how much the actual landscape and geography of the BC interior impacted those who lived through those profoundly life-altering years. When she talks about the terrain of memory, she is not speaking simply in metaphors, but of a very real place, where memories are stored, embedded in the landscape, in the trees and rivers and mountains.
As we move further and further away from the events of the 1940s—the events that so permanently altered our collective trajectory—it is important that we not lose our connection to the hills and fields that played host to a community in exile.
There are efforts afoot to keep the memories of that time and place alive. Over the next year or so we will be following and reporting on some of those efforts in these pages. I hope you will follow along with us, and perhaps contribute some of your own memories.
I would like to congratulate the recipients of the inaugural Nikkei Place Community Awards, feted this past weekend at the Nikkei Centre. As we’ve illustrated so often in these pages, our community is filled with quiet heroes, people who work long and hard hours for the greater good, often with little or no acknowledgment, and it is good to see them receive credit where credit is due. We are all the better for their efforts and unrelenting dedication.