Community News & Events

The Suitcase Project


In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Japanese Canadian redress, Vancouver-based photographer Kayla Isomura is developing a photography exhibit featuring Yonsei and Gosei (fourth and fifth generation Japanese Canadians/Nikkei). Ideal applicants will be living in Greater Vancouver regions or South/Central Vancouver Island regions sometime between January and February 2018.

The Suitcase Project is open to folks of all ages and backgrounds, and does not require knowledge of internment or their family’s internment story. Photographs will be taken within the participant’s home and will be featured at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby, B.C. in Summer 2018.

If you are interested in participating, please sign up below. Any questions can be sent to projects [at] kaylaisomura [dot] com.

*Interested in participating but reside outside of Greater Vancouver or South/Central Vancouver Island? I’d like to know! If it’s possible for me to access your location, I’d like to try and make it happen or know for future possibilities of expanding this work.



Between 1941 and 1942, thousands of Japanese Canadians across B.C. were ordered to pack a single suitcase each, plus a small carry-on bag and leave their homes. To where, for how long and whether or not they’d stay with their families was unsure.
The Suitcase Project will explore this narrative through the eyes of Yonsei and Gosei (fourth and fifth generation Japanese Canadians/Nikkei) through a series of photo, audio and text.

Participants from across Greater Vancouver and Victoria regions will be photographed in their homes with what they’ve chosen to pack for a journey unknown.

A final gallery of images will be exhibited in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the redress movement. The Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement was signed on September 22, 1988.

The Suitcase Project will allow participants and viewers to reflect on the realities of Japanese Canadian internment and how it carries forward to the world today. It will display the struggle and significance of packing a life into a single bag for survival and sentiment.

With funding made possible in part by the Young Leaders Fund, provided by the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and support provided by the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.

Kayla Isomura is a Yonsei and fourth generation Chinese Canadian living in Vancouver, B.C. In 2014, she graduated with a Diploma in Journalism from Langara College, sparking her interest in storytelling and digital photography. As a journalist, she has lived and worked in High River, Alta., and written for Metro News Vancouver, Megaphone Magazine and the Nikkei Voice. The Suitcase Project will be her first major personal project, with most of her current photography work centred around people, plants and the ocean. However, themes of identity and race relations will continue to prevail in future works. In October 2017, Kayla began an internship at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre as a Museum Curatorial Assistant. She has also been involved with the Powell Street Festival Society, the Japanese Canadian Young Leaders, Kikiai Collaborative, among others within the Japanese Canadian community.