Exclusion and New Contact Zones

Japanese and Doukhobor Canadians in the Grand Forks area of British Columbia





Kootenay District, Japanese internment, Doukhobor Canadians, agriculture


Exclusion and contact zones can interact in various ways. In this article, I consider Japanese Canadian resettlement from coastal British Columbia’s one-hundred-mile exclusion zone to the Grand Forks area in 1942. Because their circumstances brought them into close proximity with Doukhobor Canadians, with whom they shared some sense of persecution (albeit for different reasons and in varied ways), Japanese Canadians’ prohibition from living or working within the City Limits of Grand Forks created new contact zones. There was some sense of shared persecution from the mainstream. Some Doukhobors rented out their extra houses to Japanese Canadians or hired them as farm labour, and many Doukhobors and Japanese Canadians went to school together and became friends. The Doukhobors are recognized for helping the Japanese Canadians during World War II after they received permits to move from the B.C. Security Commission in 1942. The story of Grand Forks helps to show the varied circumstances and challenges that Japanese Canadians faced during the Second World War as well as how new types of contact zones between Japanese Canadians and Doukhobors emerged. Indeed, this article demonstrates that contact zones do not always involve those with considerably more power than others, but can also involve different oppressed peoples.

Author Biography

Ian G. Baird, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ian G. Baird is a professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Taylor & Francis journal, Asian Ethnicity. Born and raised in British Columbia, Canada, he presently lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and conducts most of his research in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. Since 2017, he has also been studying the history of Japanese Canadians, especially in Vancouver Island. His most recent book, Rise of the Brao: Ethnic Minorities in Northeastern Cambodia during Vietnamese Occupation, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2020.