In 1942, the Canadian government uprooted and interned all people of Japanese descent living in coastal British Columbia, Canada. The following year, the government authorized the sale of everything that they had been forced to leave behind. As the Second World War ended, government officials toured the camps pressuring Canadians of Japanese descent to relinquish their citizenship as a prelude to exile to Japan. This lecture explores Canada's racist domicide (the deliberate eradication of home) of Japanese Canadians as a complex moment of constitutional failure, resistance, and construction. Highlighting the role of competing conceptions of race, rights, and citizenship in moments of actual, perceived and manufactured crisis, the legal history of Japanese Canadians reveals the tension inherent in law's capacity to produce harm and to promote justice.
Eric M. Adams is a Professor of Law at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Law, and is currently an Academic Visitor at the Faculty of Law and St. Hugh's College at Oxford University. The recipient of several awards for his research and teaching, Professor Adams publishes in the fields of constitutional law, legal history, and human rights. He is the author of several legal histories of some of Canada's most important public law decisions, and is leading the legal historical research on Landscapes of Injustice - a large interdisciplinary partnership researching the dispossession of Japanese Canadians. Professor Adams is currently working on a book on the exile of Japanese Canadians after the Second World War.