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Grace Eiko Thomson


Grace Eiko Thomson is a second-generation Japanese Canadian, who with her parents and siblings lived in Paueru Gai (Powell Street, Downtown Eastside) in Vancouver until 1942 when they were sent to the internment site of Minto Mines, BC, then in 1945 to rural Manitoba. After restrictions were lifted, they re-settled in the City of Winnipeg (1950).

Grace’s education focused on her need to overcome memories of racism and identity issues, through investigation of her cultural roots and through art. She graduated from University of Manitoba (BFA Hons. 1973-77), and University of Leeds, UK, (M. Soc. History of Art, 1990-91).

As curator of various art galleries (1983-98), she concentrated on cross-cultural issues as well as women’s issues. In 2000, as Director/Curator, she launched the Japanese Canadian National Museum. She was President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians in 2008 and served on the National Executive Board from 2005 to 2010. She is mother to two sons and grandmother to five grandchildren, and currently participates in various Downtown Eastside activities and issues.

Photo by Vivien Nishi