East of the Rockies is an AR (augmented-reality) experience written by 83-year-old Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most acclaimed and celebrated literary figures. Kogawa is also a former internee at the Japanese Canadian internment camp at Slocan, BC.
While narrated by Kogawa’s real life grandchild, Anne Canute, this interactive story is told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in the Slocan internment camp during the Second World War. In reflection, Kogawa has said how important it is to, as a community, help people who are also suffering; and that “we can stand with people who suffer, because we know what suffering is.”
Canute’s hope is that this story about the Japanese Canadian internment is an opportunity for audiences to reflect not only on this dark part of Canadian history, but on their relationship to it. And as an extension, to look at our current relationship to what Canute calls, “the frankly racist movements that are happening right now.” Today’s rise of xenophobia and concentration camps, in the form of migrant detention centres, are a few similarities that comes to mind — making East of the Rockies a timely contemplation.