Barbed wire and oak trees are depicted in Mateo Djolakian’s image, which was awarded first place.


During the spring of 2021, the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition held a marketplace to raise funds for the Marc Stirdivant Scholarship for Justice.

Marc was a founding member of the coalition and fought for Historic Cultural Landmark No. 1039. He wrote the first National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grant to build the exhibit “Only the Oaks Remain.” Marc passed away in 2019  but left a legacy for social justice that is embodied in the essays.

“We are proud of these young scholars and artists,” said Ernie Nishii, chair of the committee. Sofia Nowell Palacios wrote, “Stop Being a Bystander, Really.” She is a sophomore from Gretchen Whitney High School in Cerritos. Second place was awarded to Dylan Mathis, who attends Richard Gahr High School in Cerritos.

First place art award went to Mateo Djolakian from the International School in Los Angeles and second place to Milo Kyselak from Highland Hall Waldorf School in Northridge.

Milo Kyselak’s submission won second place.

The coalition produced a 30-minute program to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the opening of Tuna Canyon in honor of the 2,000 men and some women who were Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants during World War ii. The student scholarship winners were introduced during the program. The goal is to build a meaningful memorial with the support of  the Sunland Tujunga and Little Tokyo communities, and activists like the Manzanar Committee and Tule Lake Committee. Check the website for further information: 

Anniversary video: 

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