Whose histories do we keep? Whose do we tell? Whose lives in museums and whose is left untouched? How we find and decide on history is often as fascinating as our histories themselves.

A photo is worth a thousand words and Senjiro Hayashi took hundreds of them. With Hayashi’s photos we discover not only the hidden past of Cumberland, but the historical erasure of diverse lives throughout our province. Almost every town in British Columbia had a Japantown and Chinatown; almost none are left, destroyed, often burnt down, our film asks whose histories we are preserving and why.


In Hayashi Studio we bring Sansei and Yonsei Japanese Canadians (third and fourth generation) back to Cumberland to connect with their past, we examine not only their experience with the past but how their parents and grandparents chose to engage with it. Through our interviews, we discover that after internment many Japanese Canadians didn’t want to talk about their lives before internment, even with their closest of family members, leaving the next generations to piece together a past, often not passed down to them.


When it comes to our museums and histories, there are many voices missing. European names are spelled out; Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Indigenous and African-Canadian names are absent, often only listed by race. These gaps in our history are even more detrimental when we look for records of women. When we look at the photographic collections within our Province’s and Countries archives, most photos in our history are of white men, and even more are taken by them. Without diverse perspectives and diverse photos, how can we understand the whole story? It’s one thing to say our history is diverse, it’s another thing to see it, to understand it. Hayashi’s work allows us to see the lives of racialized men and women in the Pacific North West 100 years ago. It shows us that, despite what we’ve been taught, it wasn’t just white men, it wasn’t just this one small town, it was everyone.