Tamio Wakayama

(1941-2018) Japanese Canadian photojournalist and activist

Japanese Canadian Concentration Camps Postwar Deportation Attempts Resettling in Chatham Father's Sacrifice Joining the Civil Rights Movement Chauffeuring the SNCC Leadership Navigating the movement as an Asian Photographing the movement Re-examining Identity Defining "Nikkei"

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Tamio Wakayama was born in New Westminster, British Columbia in 1941 shortly before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His family was among the 22,000 Japanese Canadian Nikkei who were declared to be Enemy Aliens, deprived of their property and confined in concentration camps by the Canadian government. The Wakayamas were sent to the Tashme camp in a remote part of British Columbia for the duration of World War II. At the War’s end, forced to choose between deportation to Japan or relocation east of the Rockies, the Wakayama family remained in Canada, eventually settling in a poor section of Chatham. Tamio’s neighborhood friends were black children descended from slaves who had escaped by way of the Underground Railway.

In 1963, Tamio left university studies and journeyed South to join the American Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, spending two years as a staff member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and beginning his photographic documentation of his experiences. Tamio’s work has been featured internationally at such prestigious venues as the Smithsonian Institution and his photographs have appeared in numerous TV and film documentaries, magazines, books, book covers and catalogues. Tamio has authored two major books and is currently working on a retrospective exhibit and a memoir.

He passed away on March 2018 at age 76. (June 2018)

alberta camps. Canada hastings park sugar beet farms tashme postwar. deportation Quakers repatriation resettlement discrimination postwar family father activism civil rights movement civil right movement freedom fighter James Forman SNCC asians photography community culture identity value

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