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After graduating from Ryerson in 1956, his lifetime work was always in the electronics communications engineering field. He has been retired since 1996, enjoying his golden years with his wife, Yoshimi Susan (Suyama) in the Georgian Bay area near the Blue Mountains of Ontario.
I was thinking about going ahead with the on-line interview with you (Norm Ibuki) and when I went to Jack Kudo’s funeral in Montreal recently, I discussed whether I should attempt writing about the T. Maikawa store with my oldest sister, Mary. She didn’t think it was a very good idea for me to tackle it as she found out recently that Pat Adachi who worked at the T. Maikawa Store interviewed Frances Maikawa, my second cousin who is about 4 or 5 years younger than I am to write a story about the store. Frances is the daughter of Tokio Maikawa, the son of Tomekichi Maikawa who started the store after making his money fishing around Prince Rupert, B.C. This must have happened in the early 1920’s. Tomekichi-san was my father’s older brother. I thought that even if Pat Adachi’s story comes out it would be from another point of view and different from mine so I decided to tell my story.
Most of all, I agreed to go ahead with this story because you shamed me into it by saying it’s our duty and indeed, you are right.
Actually, you were the first person that ever asked me to write about anything. When I thought about it, none of us older than me have written anything much in detail and honest feelings about the good/bad old Vancouver days and there won’t be any history left behind. Like the T. Maikawa store has been mentioned numerous times even in books but it ends with just a notation without any details whatsoever, so it doesn’t mean much at all (a store is a store but with it there is a human side to it which is more important).
Not saying anything will be inexcusable and we do want to let the Federal government, B.C. government and the general public know the truth what the governments did to us! The worst being, the government literally stepped right over our Issei and smashed them to oblivion. They always swept all the bad things they did under the carpet and if we don’t speak up they won’t even have to do any cover-ups at all, right?
History must be written about the truth what we went through and our experiences and not made up twisted stories written by the bullies’ biased way. What is the purpose for studying history? It’s about learning how to right the wrongs and not repeat it!
We’ve all been sitting in our comfortable pews recovered financial-wise, but psychologically scarred due to the bullying we all hold back to open up to tell the truth as we being a minority group don’t have the support of the mass (I think some JCs are still in the denial state yet) but now I’m ‘squeaking’ to get the oiling! As time progressed, we all used the excuse, “We don’t have time for this. We have to worry about our careers, family rearing, have fun, etc.” – as a cover-up for our fear. They say that if there is an excuse about anything that requires fixing, it will never get done. I have no more excuses as we are empty nesters now so I’m manning it up now finally. I can, as I experienced this ordeal first hand.
The way I’ll approach writing this will be as a tribute to Mom and Dad, and also to all the others that worked at the T. Maikawa store as they were our Canadian Issei pioneers who suffered the most and they are all gone now. This story comes out from me only and nobody else – this is my story. If I should hurt anybody, blame me and I will say sorry if I’m wrong. I don’t have a written diary but what comes out will be from my almost forgotten old memory folder which is still in my brain.
Everybody has their own story to tell and it can be different from mine. I won’t do any research to be accurate in time-line like a Historian but, I intend to write whatever I remember of my experiences, what I heard from the Issei, Nisei, and Sansei close to me that I talked to before the war, during the war, after the war and up to when we left B.C. and some later. I will try to remember how I felt during those times and then later reflect on it today (2012) as a 79 year old which is a long time. I will sometimes even put in my present day comments as the stories go on and that may confuse the reader somewhat. During my life I did try to erase the hellish nightmares out of my mind like everyone else but the human mind won’t let you just delete it like a computer.
I can’t remember things that I want to remember in daily life now but the impacts of the constant past bullying are permanently stored in my mind it seems as I recollect. I didn’t dwell on the past so it faded away but it comes back more and more as I think about it. I hope the future generations can learn something from this story. I’m sure my children (along with their spouses) and my grandchildren will appreciate learning more about their past heritage too. Yoshimi Susan (Suyama), my wife and I had four children – Theresa (Henry Woo), Ian (Helene Dinh), Alan and Gordon. Grandchildren are Alyssa, Brandon, Daniel, Joshua, Felix and Winston.
Pre-War Days & Immigration
Initially my uncle, Tomekichi Maikawa rented a store on Powell Street, Vancouver before he bought it outright and started small, but since he had another business in Japan, he asked his good friend, Kisaku Hayashi, to run the store for him as he had to go back and forth too much to Japan.
Tomekichi-san’s business in Matsubara, Japan, was in the lumbering business – same as what my mother’s father was doing in Hose, now part of Hikone. I think that’s why my father, Bungoro went to a technical high school, probably influenced by his oldest brother, Tomekichi-san to eventually join him in his lumbering business. My father was a skilled carpenter and was also able to build things without using nails – the real old-fashioned way.
Mr. Hayashi told me after the war, in Toronto, that it was very tough during those days, and when it was rent collection day, he sometimes had to ask another employee to look out for the rent collector so that he could hide inside the counter cupboard until the coast was clear.
The Issei called the store Maikawa Shoten (store), and I was informed later that its official legal name was T. Maikawa Stores Limited. It was quite huge in my eyes, as I was still very young from age five to almost nine.
The address was 369 Powell St. Just about a quarter of the street away on the other side, opposite to that corner was The Powell Street Grounds where the Asahi Baseball team played long ago and my cousin Mickey Maikawa (now 100 years old) used to be one of the pitchers. Mickey is the son of Sadakichi Maikawa (my father’s older brother) who owned Nippon Autos dealer-garage business – sales and service, and they were just around the block. When home runs were hit, the balls sometime banged against the houses across the street at the back of the field.
Life in Vancouver’s Japantown
The store was just renovated prior to the war and thriving in its prime, with everybody living well. All of my father’s three older brothers had businesses close-by: Japanese-owned hotels, rooming houses, communal bath houses (furoya), restaurants like the Maikawa Fuji Chopsuey, Taishodo Drug Store, Furuya grocery store, Maikawa Fish store, Maikawa Nippon Auto sales and service garage, and other competing stores. Shibuya was another store, though I can’t remember what they sold since I don’t remember going in there. The Maikawa Shoten (store) was the largest. There was a bank at the corner opposite the Powell Grounds, but I don’t know if it was Japanese-owned. I’m sure there were plenty more that I can’t remember. Close by, there were J-Christian churches (there are stories about their churches being sold off while the congregations were in internment camps – not by the government, but by the Anglican and United churches). Healing services took place in 2009. I wonder why it took so long for an apology? A Japanese language school (Alexander School) was close-by for ‘higher grades’?
The children went to a public school nearby called Strathcona, and the high school, Britannia. I wasn’t living around there, so I don’t even know if that spelling is correct. There were judo and kendo clubs operating, but I don’t know where they where located. I had a kendo outfit and a bamboo sword, but I just used it playing around with Caucasian friends in the bushes. Most of the Japanese families lived very close around the perimeter of J-town, so it was really a self-contained village on its own. I guess the Maikawas were some of the prominent people and the core foundation at that time of J-town, Nihon machi.
All of the kids had to go to the Japanese language school, so they were just about all bilingual. On the other hand, kids living further away from J-town didn’t have the opportunity to study the Japanese language, as transportation was a problem. The talk was unique in that it used whatever words came easiest (English or Japanese). Sometimes talking to Caucasian friends went that way too and they would pick it up and mix Japanese in their sentences too. The older Nisei wrote and spoke Japanese well since they were graduates of high school Japanese language already and got a lot of practice dealing with the Issei. People around cousin Shig Oue’s age were very fluent in both writing and speaking.
My father, Bungoro was the youngest amongst five brother. After graduating from a Japanese technical high school, his oldest brother, Tomekichi-san, sent him to Vancouver to help Mr. Hayashi manage the store. When Dad became settled, his brother told him to come back to Japan, as he had picked out a woman for him that agreed to marry him, but when he met her, he didn’t want her. He instead chose to marry my mom, Jun Ogawa, from another village, whose family he knew was in the same lumbering business as Tomekichi-san. The two families were already related through marriages as well.
Tomekichi-san was married to Kiri Natsuhara, sister of my mom’s mother, Sue Natsuhara. This is what my aunt, Aiko Nakamura (nee Ogawa and Mom’s sister) in Hikone told me. At the Maikawa store, there was another employee, Hane Oue (Shig Oue’s father) who was married to my father’s twin sister, Shina, through arranged marriage and he was also part of the managing team. Shig’s the one who later joined the Intelligence Corp. after being interned. Tomekichi-san’s son, Tokio-san came into the picture much later (Frances’s father).
Tomekichi-san by that time was very rich, and Tokio-san arrived in Vancouver married to a daughter, Misao-san of another prominent and rich lumbering family of Japan. He was sent to learn the business and become part of the managing team. Just before the war around 1940, the store was renovated and expanded. The business was at its peak. To make the story short, soon after the war started the store was considered enemy property and everything was confiscated with a government custodian coming in and freezing the money in the bank as well.
Remembering ‘Okasan’ and ‘Otosan’
My mother, Jun Ogawa was eight years younger than Dad. – She was born and remained a Buddhist, but she wanted us children to be Christians (she respected other religions also), as we were living in a Christian country and would blend into the Canadian society more easily as such. I think she was helping out in the United Church, as she often made reference of what Rev. Kosaburo Shimizu was doing.
She was teaching public school in Hose, Japan before she was married. Although she was a very short person, she had a very loud voice, which carried and was a good communicator that told us many stories. Most of the history of Japan I learned was through her, so when I visited Japan later I felt comfortable going there.
The best story I heard was about the time when she took her whole class to the local village hotel where an Englishman was staying. She obtained permission to visit, as nobody had ever seen a ‘white man’ before. She observed the children’s reactions and these were some comments she heard: “Oh, look at his red face, it’s like a monkey’s (Japanese Macaque monkeys do have red faces!); Look at all the hair on his body, even on his back – he is a monkey; he is so tall, he’s a giant; Oh, he smells so awful, does he ever take a bath?” (Japanese custom is to take bath every day); etc. Isn’t this funny – white man calls a yellow man a monkey and yellow children calling a white man a monkey too? Mom said, “People didn’t have to do all those name calling – after all, we were all monkeys it seems!”
Whenever Mom went to see Japanese movies, after supper the next day, she would tell us the whole story, which could take a week for her to act out, even wiping her tears while talking (most Japanese movies were sad stories). She would explain every scene, all of the background noises used – all of the sounds and visual special effects that were used, etc. I noticed that the Japanese language’s use of onomatopoeia used sound to accurately describe the effects of actions, better than any other language. Yes, the Japanese language is very powerful and Mom used it to its fullest. Our Toronto neighbours told me that as they watched and heard Mom and her friend across the street, Mrs. Kamada, greeting each other in the morning while sweeping their porches, they didn’t understand the language, but even they felt good. I saw that too and they had such loud jovial laughs together echoing back and forth, I felt good too! They sure knew how to express themselves in a warm way.
The way the language was built men talked in a very strong masculine way and ladies talked in a very refined feminine way and even the words used were different. Even the different dialects used were more masculine or feminine. Like the ‘Kishu-ben’ was more masculine as the area was populated by fishermen and the ‘Goshu-ben’ business people were extremely feminine and were known as ‘sissy talk’. It’s so hilarious when men talk the sissy talk! Now in Japan, they have standardized the language and when we go for a visit to Japan, it seems to them as if a ghost of the past has returned because our Issei forefathers passed on the old dialects and thinking to us which we retained while Japan’s way has changed through the years! One business man from Tokyo pin pointed the exact town my mother comes from just by listening to my dialect and words I was using! Anyway, I use to marvel at my mother’s skills and knowledge of everything from soup to nuts.
Mother was such a very good cook too and nothing ever tasted good after she passed away. (I’ve been married for 54 years and I confessed to Susan that 25 years later I forgot all this about Mom’s cooking and Susan’s cooking now tastes the best.)
Frank is born
I was a nine-pound baby when I was born and every time Mom went to J-Town she told me that she would go to the ladies’ communal bath and all the ladies would whisk me away from her, marveling at how fat I was. They nicknamed me “Kintaro-san” (‘Golden Boy’).
Mom was always blaming me for her stretched out belly, so I told her that she shouldn’t have eaten so much! She told me that she couldn’t speak English when she first came over, but learned how to say “one pound baloney”. We literally had teriyaki baloney with rice every day for quite some time. I replied to her, “No wonder you and I became fat”, ha, ha, ha. Yes, that Japanese baloney was good cooked or raw and so good that it was laid out during the New Year’s festive celebrations. It was about two inches in diameter and was made by Germans, probably, but we took credit for it as nobody but us cooked it as teriyaki baloney. Another tasty dish was fried potatoes with chopped onions, green peppers, and lots of pork sausages. We used to douse it with shoyu and ketchup and ate it with rice – what a starchy combination, but it was so good and that’s all that mattered! (I thought that it was only a Vancouver dish, but when I was courting Susan in Toronto, her sister, Waki was cooking that too for her kids to my surprise, and they were from Vancouver Island.)
Mom always had special foods prepared for Dad, and I was the only one who enjoyed them with him – lucky me! Raw oysters with su-joyu, various caviars, abalone, various sashimi, kazunoko, clams, – all went well with rice! Dad and I ate tasty tempura smelts (uncleaned with head still on, guts and bones still in) and nobody else would even touch it! I just enjoyed anything. We even ate salted fish intestines called shiokara with rice.
I didn’t know my father as well as my mom earlier in life as he was the breadwinner and was at work most of the time. He did take Sundays off though, and we did things together. Believe it or not, we used to go skating on Lost Lagoon Pond at Stanley Park in the winter when it froze over. Dad and Tokio-san took me golfing too and I even had my own clubs. But fishing was his passion and he took me trout fishing along the Fraser River areas as his brother, Sadakichi-san was a crazy fisherman too so we frequently went together.
Sadakichi-san had a Buick and father drove a Pontiac and Sadakichi-san drove so fast he would pass us in no time always and would already be fishing by the time we reached the destination. He was like a race car driver! He was a good companion to Dad and whenever he came over to our house Dad always had a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label whiskey ready for him as it was his brother’s favourite.
I can also remember trolling for various salmon along Horseshoe Bay. Even along the shores near Second Narrows Gate Bridge nearby we went fishing for shinna pochi (shiners) and got pails full. I used to like them barbequed and in soup. I remember Dad wanted to buy a second-hand boat with a cabin and we went looking all over along the shorelines, but that dream was squashed as the war started.
Working at Maikawa Shoten
Apparently Tomekichi-san had plans to build a few more stores in the future, thus the plural for store(s). He was very ambitious! I can’t remember too many things from when I was four or earlier, but I know that the store was a two-story building selling the usual Canadian and Japanese goods: family clothing, shoes, toys, candies, Japanese foods, etc. As you entered, after the clothing displays there was quite a large office for all the managers and bookkeepers on the bottom floor at the rear left side.
My father, Bungoro Maikawa, and uncle (ojichan), Hane Oue, managed the main and second floor, which was arranged like a department store. I’m not certain what Tokio-san did as I didn’t see him around much but I assume he was part of the team. They did all the planning and obtained all the goods they needed from the wholesalers in Vancouver and Japan to stock up and sell.
As for the other employees, I don’t remember too much as I didn’t have much face-to-face contact with most of them, but I remember Dad and Hayashi-san had very high regards for Masuko Iguchi and Pat Adachi, as they were always praising them.
Towards the rear on the right side there was a huge enclosed packing area, Japanese bulk food stuff, and loading docks. Across the alley was another building which looked like a warehouse and even a rice polishing machine with a conveyer belt starting from the rice with husk on until the polished rice was bagged. A couple of employees were living on the second floor of the warehouse and they showed me their quarters. There were many trucks and sales-drivers taking orders and delivering the foodstuff, clothing, etc. which was ongoing in and out continuously.
They covered all the areas where Japanese Canadians were working from mining and lumbering to fishery industries in B.C., and from the Vancouver area to Vancouver Island and as far north as Prince Rupert. I still remember some names of the places they went to like Steveston, Woodfiber, Nanaimo, Cumberland, Chemainus, Port Alberni, and Powell River. The drivers gathered and loaded all their orders and samples to show for their trip. From what I heard, they mainly stayed over with families that the store made arrangements with and not in hotels like today.
When the war started, the government impounded all vehicles, but I’m not certain what happened to the business trucks.
Mr. Hayashi managed this area and was in charge of ordering all the bulk food stuff from Japan (shoyu, miso, takuwan, umeboshi, cases of canned goods, dried packaged foods, etc.) and kept the warehouse stocked.
Although Hayashi-san never admitted it to anyone being a very humble person but being the most senior respected person, I think he was the overall main leader of the management teams.
Respecting your elders
As for showing respect to elders, it was the traditional way of Japanese teaching for the oldest to always be a good role model and the younger ones to follow. Mr. Hayashi was just that so he had the respect. Even my mother made Amy call me ‘ni-chan’ and would always correct her if she called me by name. I knew I wasn’t a good role model but at least this made me try so I guess this was the main reason behind this traditional culture. I’ve never heard my father address his brother as Tomekichi. He always called him ‘ni-san’ whenever he visited us from Japan. Tokio-san and Sadao-san (another Maikawa from the fish store side) were father’s nephews, but they were more like Dad’s little brothers and had special close relations and ties, so they called him ‘Bun-chan’. Dad called them Tokio and Sadao, as he was older.
Everybody close called my father ‘Bun-chan’. There’s more to it with this old Japanese traditional value system than meets the present day eyes of our children, who might think what I’m saying doesn’t make sense in today’s world.
Back to the store…
Upstairs at the rear was a huge kitchen area with a row of about three very long dining tables where everybody sat and ate their meals. There was always a cook on duty. On the other side were sofas, chairs, tables, a phonograph (that’s a 78 rpm record player – some had to be cranked manually), and a large short wave radio for listening to broadcasts from Japan for relaxation. My mother was into music too. She played violin and was a great singer. My father didn’t have much of a voice, but at least he tried to sing. I still remember some Japanese songs too and can still play some on the harmonica, which I picked up myself from watching others play.
There was a large door leading upstairs to hotel rooms where some of the bachelors and sales-truck drivers lived. My uncle Hane Oue was living up there as well and we used to visit him. As a child, I enjoyed and remembered a few New Year’s Days when everybody gathered for the nice typical Japanese feast that the cook prepared for us. Some years we celebrated at Fuji Chop Suey restaurant across the street, owned by another Maikawa brother, Sannosuke-san, who owned the Maikawa Fish store a few doors away.
We were living out in the suburbs near Hastings Park and I used to sometimes walk over to the store to see Dad, but the first thing I usually did was run upstairs to see the cook. I can’t remember her name as I always called her Oba-chan and she always gave me a big hug, then held my hand and led me down to the candies counter and filled a small bag with goodies for me, paid for it and led me back up to the kitchen to talk or play. When the bag was empty I remember once or twice I went back downstairs for a refill and snuck it out although I knew the sales lady was watching. I must have been a spoiled brat when I think about it now!
Speaking of sinning, I used to enjoy going to the United Church Christmas concert and party as there were nice goodies served there too. History goes way back for the Japanese immigrants in the early 1920s belonging to the Methodist Church, before it became the United Church of Canada. My two sisters above me, Mary and Sumi, attended church regularly, but I think I was too young to go (good excuse, huh?).
The party foods were manju and other items, but I can’t forget the tasty Japanese mikan and pomegranates. When I used to lie down on the floor after I ate, Mom (still thinking as a Buddhist) used to tell me that after I die, I will come back as a pig in my second life, so I guess she was right – it’s probably my third life now as a pig. The best thing in life for me has been food from since when I was a kid.
Importing goods from Japan
Japanese goods from Japan – I don’t know what companies they were dealing with but I would suspect they dealt with many as there were many varieties of goods ordered. Later, I heard that my mom’s mother’s sister Kiri Natsuhara, wife of Tomekichi-san was mainly involved dealing with some of the wholesalers in Japan. I guess Tomekichi-san had the knack of being surrounded by many people working for him! Probably it was the traditional cultural side which helped his dominance over people.
It wasn’t like the modern days that goods were sent via aircraft, but it was by steam ships and that took around 10 days? Then the products were unloaded and delivered to the store. They probably had to think ahead by seasons and order in bulk. Communications were probably done by telegraphs via short wave transmission or through letters via the slow boat – such a difference now, eh? There were variety of items imported mainly for the Japanese communities – yukatas, kimonos for special occasions, Japanese dishes and utensils, Japanese basic food stuff and canned goods, zoris, (just to name a few things they mainly used on a daily basis), artwork, special dolls and special gifts they gave to kids for celebration days for girls and boys, all sorts of toys, books, magazines, games, etc.
Just to mention one food item that had to be imported because no other nationalities ate such things, were dried fish from sizes 1 inch to 5 inches. It was cooked in many ways and even eaten as is for snacks. We sure must have had fishy bad breaths! But it was good and much healthier than potato chips we eat today!
Growing up Nisei in Pre-WWII Vancouver
I remember playing war games with made in Japan toy wooden knives and rifles.
In Vancouver I only had Caucasian playmates so I had to be the sneaky buck-toothed, slant-eye Jap complete with black horn-rimmed glasses all the time like in the comics and got beaten up all the time. We even bought toy buck-toothed wax upper dentures to put over our teeth! One guy brought me a set of glasses to actually wear. When we played cowboys and Indians, I had always had to be the Indian and still got beaten up – just couldn’t win.
In the schoolyard at Hastings Public School and while walking home, I was called names like “Chink”, “Chinky-Chinky Chinaman”, “Monkey”, “Jap”, “Sneaky Jap” and all the swear words adjectives before the word “Jap”, “Nip”, “slant eye”; and was pushed around by older bullies especially when I was alone. We all used to wear leather boots that came above our ankles and boy was I ever a fast runner as I had to run away from the bullies. Mother couldn’t understand why she had to buy me new shoes every month!
From the earliest time of my life, I felt like an outsider living in the suburbs, as when we went over to our next door neighbour to introduce ourselves. The man told me, “Fumio?! That’s too foreign for me to remember so I’ll call you Bobby from now on.” How I hated that name from then on!
During my Vancouver days I didn’t have any JC friends, as we lived out in the suburbs. My friends were all neighbour Caucasians that I met at school. I can’t even remember their names anymore and we didn’t keep in touch.
I didn’t know anything about human rights and what it meant to be a Canadian until we were interned and just knew that I was different, yellow, and hated, but I sure learned quickly later that we had NO rights at all.
When we were living in the Burnaby suburbs near Hastings Park, there was an empty lot across the street from us and roses grew wild there. When the war started “white” kids used to drag the thorny vines from there and used to pile them up in front of our front door but one night my father ran after them and caught one of the boys. I followed Dad and he made the boy clean up the mess, talked to him and, lo and behold, he gave him a dollar. I just couldn’t believe it! From that day onward that sort of thing never happened again.
Vancouver school days
I attended a special kindergarten school (all Caucasians), which also specialized in teaching tap dancing. My mother used to marvel at Hiroshi’s tap dancing at Japanese school concerts (also at just about all other JC concerts we attended) and she wanted me to become another Hiroshi. She bought me girls tap dancing shoes, which I strung over my shoulders (laces tied together) and every day attended classes. I was never selected to go on stage so that was the end of it, thank goodness! From grade one on, I attended Hastings Public School and just had Caucasian friends from nearby our suburban home.
After school we all had to attend a Japanese language school, Meiwa Gakuin, which was, located halfway towards the Powell St. J-town from our home. I think it was in Heaps District and the kids living around J-town also attended this school, which was run by Mr. & Mrs. Aoki. The kids at school used to give me sugary-coated, dried red coloured ginger (like surume – dried squid) and we would eat it in class and all the boys would make ‘shee – shee- shee’ sounds because it was hot. Then Mrs. Aoki would confiscate all our gingers. It was really good tasting and sort of addictive. We just couldn’t play dumb and not confess as the teacher just had to look at our fingertips – all red from the dye. From then on, I used to take it to public school and my friends used to say, ‘Hunks’ which meant ‘give me some’. We found a candy store close-by that carried these gingers and the same ‘shee-shee-shee’ happened in class. They blamed it all on me and I had to go to the corner with a dunce cap on my head! After that, we only ate ginger at recess time outside.
All the games we played didn’t cost very much – marbles; alley oops – a team sport involving a tennis ball being thrown across a roof; pogo stick; dodge ball, etc. Girls played hopscotch; Jax; skipping using two long ropes, etc.
At the Meiwa Gakuin Japanese Language School
All the kids referred to Caucasians as ‘ketoh’ when it should be hakujin officially, so I was puzzled. I heard that the word came from ‘ketobasu’ which meant kick away. I didn’t know how to take it but thought “bullies” would be appropriate. Whenever they felt good about the Caucasians however, they called them ‘Ketoh-san’. I listened more carefully to the Issei later and sure enough they were using it too so it must have derived from them? When the Issei were really mad, they called them ‘ketoh-meh’. They used unflattering adjectives in front also.
This was a defensive, revengeful attitude used to counter the Caucasian’s attacks toward us and hardly ever merited the official name ‘hakujin’ except when used in newspapers, books, etc. They always showed their frustrations by uttering the 3 KKK words, “Matta Ku _ o-tare Kettoh-meh ne Ketto-basarete, shimaida.” It was quite mild, – “again we got it from those bullies like always”. To me it now sounds like how the American Blacks were treated by the Klu Klux Klan. I often thought that the Japanese language was very clean, as I didn’t know many swear words and if there were some they were very mild ones. I never asked Mom or Dad for an explanation for obvious reasons.
You know, the word ‘Japs’ was a terrible hate word we heard often long before the war and we showed deep resentment against, as there were always negative, foul adjectives in front of it. It hurt us so badly to a point where we were paranoid about it when we heard it or saw it in bold letters in comics, newspapers and magazines – and, it continued on for a long time from the earliest days I can remember! It really showed the racial hatred to the maximum. Whenever I hear it today, it still hurts. It just freezes me to a standstill because it’s deeply engraved into me and reminds me of the old Vancouver days.
Talking about Hiroshi, who later became a celebrity actor on a TV series and in movies, he sat beside me at Japanese school (he lived around J-town). At the back of the school playground there was an open space behind the bushes and the older boys used to lure us over to play dodgeball and they would stick all us little guys in the center and played normally at first. The game would get rougher and rougher as it progressed and the older guys would start bullying us and more or less used us little guys as the ball. When this would start happening I always ran away as I was a quick runner and they couldn’t catch me. Most times the bullies picked on Hiroshi and he would come in late to class, all covered in dirt crying and would sit beside me. I remember Mrs. Aoki consoling him and taking him to the washroom to clean him up.
During the Vancouver and Internment days, the Issei, including my mother always preached to us to never bring shame to the family and the JC community. Whenever they heard good accomplishments about JCs from friends or through the newspaper, mother would always let us know, and put them on a pedestal and praise them. They all looked up to people with academic standings and addressed them with “sensei”! Sensei was always put on a higher pedestal than non-academic heroes. Putting people on pedestals was good and bad and I think it must have made those older boys jealous or to hate Hiroshi due to the pressures put on them by their parents and thus caused the bullying. They always say that ‘boys will be boys’ but not in Hiroshi’s case.
Keeping B.C. “White Only”
Long before the war, there were ongoing “KEEP B.C. WHITE ONLY” outcries – such racial hatred especially along the B.C. coast where the Japanese Canadians were concentrated. When I kept hearing this, even at my young age I knew that it just wasn’t right and had a premonition that something terrible would be coming. I didn’t feel at ease at all. In fact, it was scary!
The Caucasians really believed that ‘whites’ were a superior race inherited through their forefathers and tried to brainwash us into believing it also!
Many higher professions were denied to JCs as they didn’t want competition and we were treated as second-class citizens and then as a ‘nothing’ when the war started. Even after completing and obtaining certain degrees, JCs were not accepted in the workplace to suit whatever they graduated from so they had to settle for menial jobs. There were ‘problems’: Japanese were very industrious hard workers, sometimes working for lower wages and of course their bosses liked them (more production with lower wages) and that’s simple economics. The fishermen came from fishing villages of Japan and were experienced in using their superior ingenuities and out-performed the locals. There were many working in the mining and forestry industries as well.
The locals didn’t really know the Japanese, as they didn’t associate with them much due to language barriers. There was this competition and a threat so the locals attacked with racial hatred, grouping them as one terrible ‘Yellow Peril’ and taking their jobs away. They thought the worst of each other, which still happens even today. The ‘Keep B.C. White Only’ racial hatred was also happening towards the First Nations people, East Indians, Chinese, Blacks, and others during that time.
In Vancouver, the Caucasians used to terrorize J-town and Chinatown which were side by side, breaking all their showcase windows and destroying or ransacking their goods on Halloween nights I heard. One year, the judo and kendo clubs were waiting for them and that put a stop to the terrorization, the elders said. All I can say is what a human attitude/behavior problem there was, just unbelievable!
Labelling JCs ‘Enemy Aliens’
When we were forced into internment camps, I felt sorry for all the honest, dedicated and loyal people who ran the store, especially Mr. Hayashi who wasn’t even a blood relative. He was like more than an uncle to me and his daughter, Chiyoko-san who lives in Kelowna now was close to us as well and she still calls me Fumio-chan and treats me like her little brother even now. I still call her Chio-chan like when I was a little child.
Adding a ‘-san’ after a name is showing respect and is quite straightforward and formal but adding a ‘-chan’ is showing love and closeness towards a child, child towards an adult or between children but can carry on towards their adulthood and is a little more complex. They all went through many hardships and successes together and did good things for the JC community but ended up with nothing. They just said, ‘shikataganai’, talked only about the good memories and moved on. You can’t find those types of people now in this era, that’s for sure.
If I was at the store, I would sometime remind my father that he’s late for his meeting at such and such time but he always said, “Oh, don’t worry, it’s only about an hour since it was to start, they won’t start without me.” Apparently, that’s the way it was with everybody involved in J-Town and the meetings wouldn’t start until maybe two hours later. No wonder Dad came back home from work very late at night sometime.
Talking about the old days in Toronto with Mr. Hayashi, he told me that both Dad and Tokio-san were easy going gentle people, too nice and people were forever asking them to lend them money and both never were able to say no and dished it out easily – good P.R. men he called it. He doubted most of it was ever paid back especially when the war started. He was trying to teach me a lesson telling me that if a borrower has no intention to pay back, when you see him walking towards you on a street, he would cross the street and walk on the other side looking away from you. Mr. Hayashi was the first person to teach me that if one has an excuse, it will never get done. I guess he was telling me that “that guy who went walking across the street” was an excuse too. He indicated that at least one truck (cube van) was always on the go for transporting baseball teams, picnic use and all sorts of functions.
It seemed to me that Mr. Hayashi was the fatherly figure of the store and I guess there had to be somebody around to operate the business in a reasonable fashion. I already noticed that my father always thought about others before himself as he would tell my mother that he hasn’t eaten yet after he came home from work late but he’s going to Hasting Park to drop off some Japanese food stuff that the impounded Japanese Canadian people would be missing. I tagged along sometime too. Dad had many late, late suppers until the government set up a curfew against the JCs only.
We lived at 2690 Cambridge St. and there was another Mr. Hayashi, a Japanese Consulate and his family living on the opposite corner of the street. My sisters used to play with their children and were always going back and forth.
All the rest were Caucasian families. During the Depression, my father bought a double lot and had a two storied house built on it. I think it was built by Japanese construction people complete with a custom made Japanese style bathroom, ‘Nihonburo’ and the pretty landscape which had a Japanese touch was done by a Mr. Bando – his name I remember.
When the war started and we knew we had to move away, my father had everything moved down to the basement play room and had it pad locked up before renting the house out. He rented it out cheaply to an Anglican minister thinking that everything would be safe until he returned. He thought that the war wouldn’t last long as Japan was just a very small country fighting the whole world. Little did he know that the war would last until 1945 and we wouldn’t be allowed to go back to Vancouver and the government sold off our house without our permission.
When Dad found out that all the men over 16 would have to go to road camps, he and Mr. Hayashi’s son, Katsuzo-san, who also worked at the store got in Dad’s car and fled to his friend, Mr. Yamaoka, who had a farm and orchards in Kelowna. I remember that time as the RCMP came to our house the next day and came asking for Dad to be taken away to work in a road camp. We were all outside clinging to Mom’s skirt and frightened as Mary was interpreting for Mom. I think the Mounties picked him up later as we were all together again on a ferry to Squamish and then on to the PGE train to Bridge River to be interned.
Life in Bridge River
When we were sent to Bridge River (an internment camp where you had to support yourself, money-wise) with one RCMP overseeing the camp, I started thinking how badly we were treated so I used to think about studying hard, become a somebody and then would hunt down those mean government people and give them the same ‘medicine’ they gave us. When I heard later that we were classified as Enemy Aliens and Canada didn’t want us anymore I thought that I would have to wander around the world like a countryless Gypsy and that really scared me. When you feel unwanted by your country it’s worse than being an orphan.
When the internment time came upon us, the J-town business association organization that they belonged to (certain individuals in there) apparently made arrangements with the government, not having to go to the government’s set up internment camps but instead go to partially vacated ghost towns just beyond the 100-mile limit zone from the coast.
Thinking that the war would end quickly, father chose to go to Bridge River where we had to support ourselves without government help. Some of the organization’s leaders went to Minto, another internment camp which was just over the mountain from us. Although we were not allowed to own cars and were confiscated, once in a while they came to Bridge River in a black limousine, five men dressed in dark suits with fedora hats to visit all households. I saw my father coming out from his room to hand them some cash. I was always snooping around and seeing gangster type movies before, to me it appeared as if they were collecting protection money like the Mafia or the equivalent Japanese Yakuza – who knows, just my thought at that time.
Radios and cameras had been confiscated too but some families still had them so we weren’t totally isolated. We were allowed to subscribe to the Daily Province so we kept current with the comics too and of course all the ‘Jap’ news. Later, after Bridge River became an official internment camp more people were sent there, especially from Steveston.
Bridge River was almost a vacant small village and was situated on a very steep incline at the bottom of a mountain over seeing Seton Lake and beyond that was another huge mountain. There was no need for barbed wire fences to lock us up as it was almost impossible to escape. At the center of the small village was a small rural school but only for Caucasians; nearby was a community center with two tennis courts; across from it was a Health Clinic for a dentist and a MD; a hotel across from the school; no stores; no churches; and at the entrance to the village was the RCMP’s office.
There were approximately half a dozen Caucasian workers with their families living in simple cottage like houses in the village and working for the electric power generating plant just at the lake water’s edge. There were approximately three huge water pipes from a lake on top of the mountain to the plant. The PGE train line was along the shoreline of the lake. The line started from Squamish and went to Lillooet. Close to the power station was a train station and a long steep stairway leading up to a three-storied hotel where we lived (most of our relatives and others). There were quite a number of other vacant small homes too and they were utilized as well.
When Bridge River became another official internment camp, many from Steveston were sent there too and they had to stay in small cabins built row after row which used to house the workers that built the power plant and the pipe lines previously it appeared. Or, it could have housed gold miners as there were still active villages close by still around to mine gold. There was a small grocery store about a few miles away at Shalalth and there was a cube van (it could have been the Maikawa Store truck and part of the deal later as it showed up later?) that went back and forth once a week to take us shopping. Also, without that van the men would have had a terrible time to haul in their firewood as the log cuttings were quite far away from the internment camp. There was also a gas car (size of a train passenger car) that went back and forth to Lillooet, another internment camp too and we were allowed to go to that town as long as one had a permit for the day through the RCMP.
We had a dentist, Dr. Fujiwara and a medical practitioner, Dr. Miyazaki – both interned but when the Lillooet town people heard about Dr. Miyazaki, they took him away! So we had to get permits and had to purchase return train tickets to go to Lillooet to see the doctor from then on. If you are on the right side of the fence, you can make anything happen to suit yourselves, eh? Oh well, it was better for the doctor and his family so we were happy for him and his family. I think he was allowed to stay there permanently and he did, so I was told.
The hotel living was really something! Families had blocks of rooms and shared common bathrooms. There was a huge kitchen with two rows of wood stoves and families had to cook in shifts. Each family had their own designated tables in the dining room. The kitchen sink had to be shared too. As for fridges, each family had to provide their own. The men had to go and chop down trees for the kitchen stoves and also for heating the hotel as well. It was quite a chore as the wood had to be cut months ahead to dry it otherwise it wouldn’t burn properly. There used to be a store on the main floor and that was utilized as a school.
There were two untrained volunteer teachers, Mr. Kido and Miss Takahashi that taught us like in a rural setting school splitting the grades 1 to 4 and 5 to 8. We were only taught for half a day I think or maybe I was asleep for the other half?! Previous to them, Tom Nishio taught grades 1 to 8 like in a rural setting but he suddenly disappeared (he was accepted to go to the University of Western in London. ON). The government didn’t provide teachers to keep us dumb and less educated than the Caucasians.
‘Oshogatsu’ in Bridge River
All our staple food were unavailable to us anymore and all our mothers without recipes were experimenting, trying to make even miso, shoyu, kamaboko, manju, tofu, konnyaku, etc., but they didn’t taste the same anymore. The shoyu was good as the Chinese shoyu tasted like salty molasses. We were just a forgotten bunch of throw-away people. But, somebody didn’t forget us. We heard that a ship came from Japan and the Japanese Red Cross sent some sticky mochi rice along with other things to the main internment camp. We pooled our rations for this one time ‘mochi tsuki’ celebration. This is one good thing that happened to all of us to give us a lift. We really appreciated that. I’m sure the other internment camps enjoyed it too.
So, we were able to celebrate this one New Year in a real festive celebration gathering that included ‘mochitsuki’ at the Bridge River Hotel. The men cut down a huge tree and sawed off a big stump which father and Mr. Honkawa (another relative from Prince Rupert) hollowed it like a deep dish using tools they brought over from Japan and smoothed it out with a rounded bottom plane and also made two huge mallets for pounding the steamed mochi rice that mothers cooked. Mr. Honkawa used to design and build large fishing boats during the winter months when not fishing like many other Issei so many of them were really talented. When the war started the government confiscated all his boats like what happened to all the JC fishermen. The steamed rice was placed into the hollowed groove and two strong men would pound the rice taking turns and Ji-chan Oue would add water to the pounded rice in between the poundings and also shift the rice around with his bare hands singing or reciting something poetically with a melody until the rice finally became a sticky mochi.
The water was required so that the mallet head wouldn’t stick to the sticky rice and just the right amount had to be added for the proper consistency. They called this action ‘Aizu’ for all three of them to work in unison and not anybody was able to do it. Everybody would gather around them joining in with rallying cries for the men to continue pounding the mochi in unison. It sure looked dangerous for Oue-san and it’s a wonder his hands never got pounded! But it sure was exciting with everybody into it. It was real hard work and the pounders had to take turns. I’m sure the men’s sweaty salt drippings into the mochi made it taste even better. Just kidding – they were all dressed up for this occasion and tied towels around their foreheads, even Oue-san to give a real festive atmosphere. They made batches and batches!
The mothers used to cut them into pieces, rolled them into different sized balls and then would flatten them a little. The first batch would be offered in front of the Butsudan, piled up in a pyramid form from the largest on the bottom to the smallest on top with a small orange on top. Mikan was no longer available. The mothers would then lay the mochi on wire meshes over the wood stove flames and we all had a fill of mochi which we dipped into a sugary shoyu mixture – yummy! Mochi was really good in soups too. Another thing, while the mochi tsuki men were pounding the rice, before it got too sticky, the ladies told them to stop and whisked it away to make azuki mochi called ‘bota-mochi’ and everybody just loved that too!
There was one really sad situation that stays with me from that forsaken place.
There was an older couple living in the attic of the hotel and the wife became ill and died. There weren’t any funeral parlors nor churches even close-by so the husband had to make arrangements to get a bulldozer from somewhere to have them dig a huge hole in the pasture and piled earth all around to create an outside crematorium. The men gathered a lot of dried wood and piled them up in a huge pile. My father and I think Mr. Honkawa built a coffin and some ladies sewed some black cloth to cover it and they tacked it on. After a Buddhist funeral service at the hotel without a minister the casket was carried over to the makeshift crematorium. The casket was laid on top of the pile of woods and another service was held as the fire was started. The husband was feeding the fire and stoking it all night making sure that the casket stayed in the middle of the fire and didn’t tip. The next day he collected his wife’s ashes to be stored in a huge bottle used as an urn. This was the first time we saw anything like that and everybody was stressed out.
During the following days, many of the Issei told us many stories about funerals and one in particular interested us. They told us that before you go to heaven the ashes of the dead have to be buried in a the cemetery and there wasn’t one so for sure her spirit will be wandering around until she’s finally put to rest. The spirit will be in a form of a fireball (called Hinotama) so we were told to be on the lookout every night. We didn’t believe them but like fools we watched every evening and what do you know, one of the kids yelled, “There it is!” – We looked at where he was pointing and sure enough we saw the ‘Hinotama’ (about 2 ft. in diameter) drifting along the rooftop of the hotel and it disappeared. We all did see it and they say that seeing is believing but it was hard to convince ourselves that we did actually see it. It was sort of scary and spooky for sure! We chalked it down as trick of the mind as the older sisters and brothers laughed at us. Regardless, I hope the husband was able to find a final resting place for his wife wherever he settled after the war.
Later, my father taught me carpentry during the internment days and his method was not to spoon feed me but taught me just the basics and showed me how to look into things deeper by myself and later gave me jobs to do around the Toronto house to maintain it. He even made me build storm windows for all around the house and also got me to help him build a garage. His influence helped me build confidence to tackle anything when it came to construction and other things in life. Good things just don’t happen: you have to work hard for it, I learned that from Dad.
The best advice Dad gave me was to always look at the ‘big picture’ when making decisions as you may go off track and head the wrong way and you can re-steer onto the right path again. He said that it is critical to break it down to short term, mid-term, long term plans to reach your big picture goal. He told me that even the big picture can change while moving forward so change it as required and indeed I found that out many times later.
Another one was – ‘two heads are better than one’. For anything you want to accomplish, there are always several ways to do it so spend some time thinking about them – list them all, prioritize what action to take and if it doesn’t work you’ll have alternatives. So, consider all input from all sources first. I tried to utilize all his teachings throughout my life so far and at work also. (All of this sure came in handy especially in design engineering and support at work. Dad was also responsible for helping me choose to go to Ryerson Institute of Technology to study Electronics Technology for three years as he brought in his nephew, Shig Oue for consultation. Around 1953 was just the right time getting into electronics as it was just starting to take off in that field and I’ve never regretted it since, thanks to Dad and Shig.)
During the early Internment days, as Shig joined the Canadian Army, Dad asked him to check out his house when he got to Vancouver. Shig called back and indicated that the good Rev. broke into the playroom and was using anything useful, furniture and all. Soon after the government auctioned the house off and sent a fraction of the amount it was worth (a drop in the bucket) to Dad to be used for our Internment living – Very nice of them, he said sarcastically and also he used the word ‘shikataganai’ (it can’t be helped. No sense arguing about it because they have the power and we don’t have any say. They’ll just slap you down again if you open your mouth.) The Issei used ‘shikataganai’ for many instances such as when they were bringing up their children, as at certain stages it’s no use lecturing the kids over and over because they are not listening so they would give it another try later after they mature a bit more.
My mother used to say that over lecturing is harmful as kids’ minds are just growing and when they start to rebel that’s a danger sign, so let it rest – they will eventually come around.
As for Katsuzo-san, he was not interned (he must have slipped through the cracks somehow) and eventually married Mr. Yamaoka’s daughter, Shizuko then bought an orchard in Oyama and his father, Mr. Hayashi moved there too to help him. Katsuzo-san later got an opportunity to buy part of Mr. Yamaoka’s orchard and ended up in Kelowna again.
What did my siblings and mother go through those days in Bridge River? We didn’t talk very much about what was happening. But my older sisters, Mary and Sumi were talking seriously with Mom and Dad and they were involved in making decisions to move from here to there until we got to Toronto. My younger sister, Amy and I were too young and were kept out of the picture. We were just followers and nosy too so I knew what was going on.
One other specific thing I can remember: My mother told me to write a letter to Mrs. Wells, my former grade 3 teacher in Vancouver to let her know that I was now in an internment camp in Bridge River so I did write and my teacher was surprised. Her letter back to me was censored by the government. I remember one sentence I wrote was – I have to stop writing now as Mom is calling me for supper and I’m hungry as a bear. She always wrote back and told me that she read out my letters to the class and used it for teaching purposes and that ‘hungry as a bear’ was used too. I guess she was trying to cheer me up and I knew I wasn’t up to speed in education with only half day schooling.
My mother continued to teach Amy and me the Japanese language though while our friends were playing outside and seeing them through the window made it very hard to concentrate. But, I’m glad I learned the language as I was able to communicate with the Issei to learn and was also so useful when I visited Japan a few time later in life.
In Bridge River, there was a public school 100 feet away from us but we weren’t allowed to attend. There were Aboriginals living nearby also but they weren’t allowed either and had to go to their own school. The locals however, invited us and the Aboriginals once to participate with them in a Christmas Concert at the Community Centre and that was good of them. We didn’t have any Caucasian friends but just JCs only, mainly cousins and most of the Maikawas were there. Some friends were from Steveston and I used to enjoy learning and talking their Kishu-ben Japanese dialect. Before we got to know them, they called us ‘Bunkuba no Chunkoro’ – name calling.
We learned ‘G-language’ (it was used in all the internment camps. You just insert G into appropriate places like this: Higai Norgormugusagan, Igai agam vergerygi thagangfugul togu yougu forgo yourgo hegelp. Googoofigi, eghay?) there too and it became a habit, slipping up sometimes talking to teachers and parents.
Alan Fujiwara, Dr. Fujiwara’s son although a couple of years older than me was a good friend too and we all did many things together like fishing although we weren’t allowed to; skating; swimming; kayaking; softball; basketball; making slingshots and using marbles at first then graduating to deadly steel ball bearings and we did some awful things which I don’t want to confess; we went on many long hikes around our close-by mountains too.
Alan was an excellent drawer and even made his own comic books expressing his imaginary stories mainly. I wasn’t surprised to find out that he became a famous artist later because he had much talent from his childhood days. We did a lot of bad things too like one neighbour had a chicken coop so we helped ourselves to some eggs, cut a small pin hole through the shell and see who could suck out the innards the fastest. Some were even warm yet! We called it a man’s game.
One day when Alan and I were hiking we noticed a cow lying down. As we approached her we could see part of a body of an animal and its hind legs were sticking out from her behind and she was exhausted and moaning. Alan asked me to help him pull out the baby and we did. The calf’s rear side was all dried up but its front was wet and no life. We petted the cow but she just couldn’t get up and just moaned so we ran to the RCMP’s office for help. We pointed out the location where the cow was and he put us into his truck and we got there in a hurry. He looked at the cow and told us to move back and look away, so I looked. He pulled out his rifle from his truck and shot her dead. It was such a loud bang my ears were ringing for a long time. That’s the first time I saw anything like that! Before he sent us home he told us that he will contact the Aboriginal owner to haul his cow back home. That incident just won’t go away from my mind, even today. We just couldn’t understand why he did that.
Whenever we played ‘Hide and Go Seek’ I used to pride myself as a good runner with lots of stamina but when we used to play after school, there was a girl that always came chasing me. Eventually she proved that she was faster than I was and once I kept on running way up into the hills even – far away but she relentlessly chased me but wouldn’t tag me even if I slowed down and I finally had to lay down exhausted but still she didn’t tag me and while looking me over, just laughed with a big smile. We just walked back after that but everybody had already left. I was humbled by a girl and she didn’t even brag! After Susan read this she wanted me to spell out the girl’s name. I told her – Hey, I was only about 10 or 11 years old! I did like her though. Thinking back, I must have run fast only if I was in ‘real danger’.
No Peacetime for JCs: Go to Japan or east of the Rocky Mountains!
After the war, I heard my father discussing a letter that came from the government and written in Japanese by the JC head organizers dealing with the Canadian government’s push to either ‘Repatriate – Go ‘back home’ to Japan or move east of the Rockies out of B.C. and they were ‘pushing and encouraging us’, coercing would be a better word, to go to Japan. My father said that those JCs must have got paid off by the government to even promote such a thing- he just couldn’t believe it! Probably they were brainwashed? As he found out later, many did sign up under pressure to ‘go back home’ but also, many changed their minds not to go at the last minute. In my wife Susan’s family case, the government censored and prevented her brother, Kakuichiro-san’s letter through the Red Cross to reach them warning them not to come to Japan as they were experiencing extreme hardship and were in dire need of everything, even food. They found this out from her brother when they landed in Japan. They never did receive Kaku’s letter. I wonder why?
The JC’s weren’t working for the government but at the larger internment camps there were leaders (I don’t remember where it was) who represented all the internees and dealt with the government and they in turn communicated with the smaller internment camps like Bridge River, I think mainly through newsletters. They were censored as well and they probably followed the government’s directions. A newspaper called The New Canadian was allowed by the government to be circulated but of course they had limitations as to what they could write, I heard.
At larger camps like Lemon Creek, the government had even set up Government Commission and Welfare Centers for various sneaky, hanky-panky reasons probably – who knows? Father resisted signing up for a while and moved us to Vernon and then to Lavington in the interim to work on farms and even tried farming on his own. For those that didn’t want to leave Canada, they had another sign-up sheet to go beyond the Rockies and that would ‘show your loyalty’ to Canada by leaving B.C. Unbelievable! What kind of an idiotic statement is that by the B.C. government I thought, and it didn’t even make any sense. I guess the government tried just about everything possible to get us out of B.C.
Some die hard people remained in the interior of B.C. to ‘wait it out’ to see if they can return to the place they were booted out from (but what for, since the government sold off all our properties and businesses in hope of us not returning!). After the war the government used delay tactics even to discourage us from going back to the B.C. coast indicating that they are protecting us from the ‘deep resentment’ of the coastal people against JCs and said that it will take time for them to ‘forgive us’ (sic) in order to scare us.
The Vernon and Lavington years
Dad decided to hang around in the interior of B.C. before making any further big decisions. When we first moved to Vernon heating and cooking still required wood for burning and it was my responsibility to have slabs cut and piled for use throughout the year. Am I ever glad I had Amy to help me with my chores as I was a lazy kid.
Cutting the slabs with a bow saw by myself was very labour intensive and took ages so I always conned Amy into ‘playing sawmill’ so that she can help me push and pull the large lumber jack’s large double handled heavy duty saw with me on the other end. Amy helped me load a number of slabs onto the cutting horse and I would then tell her that I’m the boss so get the axe and mark the slabs with cutting grooves by swinging the axe where I pointed to. Instead of using a stick pointer, I used my middle index finger and of course with my gloves on. It was working well but later I guess Amy got more efficient and I got slower in retrieving my hand. So, you guessed it, the axe went through my gloves and split my finger up to the bone! I was scared that my father might give me a blasting for ‘using’ Amy so I patched it up myself and infection set in so it didn’t heal for over six months but I kept silent all that while.
I guess my problem was that I wasn’t as smart as Oji-chan Oue-san and didn’t do “Aizu” like him doing New Year’s ‘mochi tsuki’ in Bridge River! I found out then, why he was making all those funny musical sounds to keep everybody in step! It sure was a hard way to learn that lesson.
School Days with sisters Amy and Sumi
Sumi, Amy and I were luckier as we were able to get back into the regular school system when we moved to Vernon after the war. As for my Mom, throughout the unsettled years, she was always positive and didn’t talk much at all about the war years in front of us. She did have an easy life during the Vancouver days but like everybody else who were interned, after the war when released they all had to restart their lives from scratch and Mom worked hard to keep the family going by working on farms later and also did sewing piece work at home when we finally settled down in Toronto.
Mom never talked to us about the war but when she got news after the war from her family that her younger brother, Ryozo was lost in action, she burst into tears as she read the letter to us. This was in Lavington, B.C.
Immediately, she called us over to perform ‘otsutome’ service in front of the family butsudan. This continued every day for a week (memorial services later on the 49th day, 1st year, 3rd year, 5th year, 7th year and the final 13th year). Each of those years was special and had a special meaning and she told us but I forgot now. My mother was very short, 4 feet 10 inches but her brother, the baby of the family was 6 feet tall. He graduated from the Japanese Naval Academy at 22 and was put into service to fly reconnaissance seaplanes from battleships. When she showed us his graduation photo I felt sorry for her having additional worries about his well-being during the war.
From age 12 to 15 or so, we were living in a farming environment those days and even had summer jobs weeding, fruit picking, etc. at about 10 to 25 cents an hour! Fruit picking was best as we got paid by piecework. The locals were very nice to us and no discrimination because there weren’t very many JCs living in the interior of B.C. before we came along. Most of them didn’t even know that we were interned.
The Chibas were next door neighbours and their son, Junichi, was in the same grade from grade 7 on. We were on our bikes almost all day long wherever we went. We fished for trout along the creeks nearby and did a lot of hiking around the mountains. My stray pick-up cat came along too as soon as he saw me with a fishing rod and whenever I caught a trout, he would pounce on it when I brought the fish to shore. Once we found cougar tracks up in the hills so I ordered a .22 rifle from Eaton’s catalogue, bought bullets from the gun shop and one day, Junichi and I went cougar hunting up in the mountains. We did see cougar tracks but all of a sudden we weren’t so bold anymore. We ran straight down the mountain non-stop until we got home and never brought up the subject of going hunting again. By the way, I didn’t even have a license to own a gun as I was underage.
I can’t recall where in Japan the Chibas came from but his dialect was ‘Zuzu-ben’ and very hard to understand. Mom showed me this dialect and from then on I was able to understand him and even talk like him! There was a fellow about a mile away too – Kenji Anzai, and we hung around together a lot going to the community centre for various youth functions and that’s where we learned Square Dancing and good thing we learned as girls used to take us to the Sadie Hawkins dance at school every year. I guess at that stage, if boys had to ask the girls out, there wouldn’t have been any dance functions at all. We were all shy. We used to play a lot of hockey there too on an outside rink. We all pitched in to clear the surface and flooded the rink too. My father even allowed me to drive his car around nearby since I was 12 years old, alone! Those were the good old days, I’d say.
Late in 1948, Dad finally decided to move to Toronto for the children’s sake after recognizing that returning to Vancouver was a hopeless situation and the government’s deadline to make a forced decision was getting near. Mary wanted to become a hairdresser so Dad sent her to Toronto first to go to school and during her spare time look for a house. Probably the deadline was around the end of 1948 or early in 1949.
This government deadline was for them to offer one-way ‘coach’ train fare only but not for sleeping berths nor food. The train ride took five days and four nights. Only if you had signed up to be ‘repatriated’ to Japan did the government pay a complete packaged deal to lure us to ‘go away’, a one-way ticket too. To make decisions where to go it must have been very confusing and stressful for the Issei at that time.
Arriving in Toronto
When we got to Toronto, we finally felt released and free from jail to restart our lives. We felt really unsettled moving from here to there so many times to temporary places during so many years we were relieved and happy to find a permanent home at last. Thank you Ontario! I recall, after 1949 when we were finally allowed to vote, sometime later they lifted the ban as they had no other choice and JCs were allowed to return to the coast. It was too late for us and I didn’t even feel like going back anyway even for a visit and blocked my mind that B.C. didn’t even exist anymore. They sure did a very good job on me to say the least.
When Tomekichi Maikawa first came over from Japan, before getting into fishing, he started as a houseboy in Vancouver initially. And, when Mr. Hayashi came to live with us in Toronto in the early ‘50s – at 690 Woodbine Avenue in the east end just below Gerrard Street, he told us that they put up Tomekichi-san in Hotel Vancouver initially and encountered embarrassing situations because of his “cultural differences”.
Unlike today, the hotel had a shared common bathroom on each floor and Tomekichi-san would walk out from his room in the nude along the hallway and into the bathroom, would wash up outside the bathtub before soaking inside the bathtub like in Japan. There wasn’t any drainage outside the tub for the floor so the place was always flooded and other guests would complain. When Mr. Hayashi visited him at the hotel, he had to apologize to management and explain how baths are taken over here to Tomekichi-san. Mr. Hayashi was normally a very serious person but the way he told us this, it was hilarious and we had a good laugh.
After the war, in the early 50’s Tomekichi-san wasn’t done yet! He decided to start an export-import business from Japan. My father was already well established working for a housing construction company, so again Tomekichi-san relied on Mr. Hayashi to help him start up the Toronto import side of the business while Tokio-san made all the exporting side arrangements in Japan. That’s how come Mr. Hayashi came all the way from Oyama, B.C. to live with us in Toronto.
Once that was done, Tokio-san moved to Toronto to take over Maiko Trading Company which handled mainly photography equipment and other goods to be distributed to the retail stores in Ontario. I won’t say any more about this as my father was not involved with this venture. What amazed me was Tomekichi-san’s business drive and Mr. Hayashi’s loyalty to his longtime friend. Hayashi-san eventually went back home to Kelowna to help out his son operate his apple orchard after accomplishing what he was asked to do which took several years.
You know, many of the later generations were angry and thought lowly of their Issei forefathers (they drifted away from being (‘oya ko ko’ – honour your parents) just because they thought their educational achievements were lower than theirs. But that was so generally in Canada at that time and actually, they were quite well educated, brought talent over from their old country, had good common sense and were self-taught through experience. They didn’t take a back seat to anybody when it came to smarts.
Also, the Issei weren’t quiet and meek as they have typically been portrayed, either.
The later generations were the ones that showed inferiority complex and just weren’t in tune and in touch with them due to language difficulties.
The trouble in fact was that the Issei had to work and picking up the English language was difficult and was not done in a structured school way but just by pick up through daily living. The older Nisei learned Japanese in school and were able to talk fluently with the Issei but due to the internment the younger Nisei and the Sansei onward missed out on Japanese language schooling and they in turn had to learn Japanese in a pick-up fashion too: a complete reverse situation to the Issei, or even much worse as some (younger Nisei and the Sansei) didn’t even want to learn for negative reasons ( they thought that they were a hated race and everything about them were NG – brainwashed). Therefore, they couldn’t communicate with the Issei elders properly nor in depth and the obvious happened when there’s no communication.
Ever since I graduated from Ryerson in 1956, I’ve had to have my government Security Clearance renewed continuously as my first job was with De Havilland in the Guided Missile Division for one and a half years. Next was a one and a half year contract with Western Electric to work up in the Distant Early Warning Line, the first line of defense for North America. Then, 38 years at Nortel, Belleville (formerly called Northern Electric, then Northern Telecom). I had to have the security clearance because all the projects that I worked on were the latest communication equipment used by governments and even NATO. The RCMP and CSIS checked out my past and found out that I wasn’t an ENEMY ALIEN child as the B.C. government indicated me as, but a loyal Canadian so I guess they proved to the B.C. government again that I was ‘no threat’. They must have given them the third degree questioning this time around. Thanks to them and my birth certificate I had jobs for 41 years until I retired.
The B.C. government sure made it tough for us even to get jobs by calling us Enemy Aliens! Come to think of all this, I was even protecting B.C. all that while but they haven’t even said thanks like they never said sorry for ethnic cleansing me out of British Columbia. Sorry B.C., I don’t need a thanks. I was just kidding.
There is a comical part to this story. I was on the FBI most wanted list as they couldn’t find any record that I left the U.S.A. after finishing my DEW Line course and they couldn’t find me for a long time. Initially we had to fill out a questionnaire for our ID badges and I came across a section whereby we had to check off what colour we were but there were only two boxes for white or black so I asked the HR person whether I should add another box for yellow as I had yellow skin. He stood up and came beside me and compared his arm against mine and he was darker, so he checked me off as white!
So, until the FBI found me, I was a ‘white man’ for a while but after, I was classified back as a ‘yellow man’ again in Canada. That one check mark really confused the FBI – ha, ha, ha! Really, while I was a white man, I didn’t feel any different at all.
Redress and the Healing Process
For myself, to keep my sanity I forgave the Canadian government years later after the war ended when I, a Canadian born was literally booted out from B.C. and went to live in Ontario where I finally didn’t feel discriminated anymore.
In 1990, about 48 years later, when I personally received an apology letter and an acknowledgement certificate from Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government. I was able to forgive them the right way (sorry and forgiveness done formally) and was finally freed from any more bitterness. The healing process then began between the feds and us but more truths surfaced later which are still hidden from our school history books.
There are many levels of ‘forgiveness’ and the ultimate true forgiveness had not been reached yet to move forward. Why? – The supposedly learned experts discuss it but they don’t even understand it because the ‘truths’ are ignored and not taken into consideration.
Today, when you think about what happened to the Jewish people during WW2 and why Canada went to war to save us from what the Nazis were doing and to punish them, in our backyard the exact same things were being done to us Canadian citizens really when you compare the parallel things that were happening in B.C.
In modern day language, it was ‘ethnic cleansing’. The only difference is, our Caucasian friends tell us is – they didn’t shoot us, gas us or throw us into the furnace. (I tell them, which is really better – to get shot and end it or having to live as a NOTHING like us? As for getting shot, it only hurts for a little while but when you are bullied and made into a NOTHING, the psychological hurt lasts for a long, long time. It’s not as simple as erasing the memory in a computer. It just doesn’t go away! The Allies said the Nazis were criminals, trialed them and jailed or hung them.
The Aboriginals are doing the proper thing by taking their stories to the UN. Man always has double standards and if you are on the ‘domineering side‘ or ‘bullying side’ you have the power and can say anything you want and get away with it until it catches up to you eventually.
As for our treatment, the Issei were smart and abided by the word ‘shikataganai’, (It can’t be helped. Say your piece once but keep your mouth closed after as they aren’t listening anyway as they have the power. Open up again when you see an opening.), and that was the smartest thing to do. There was no other better way to go. However, the later JC generations never did understand the real in depth meaning of this word taking it just literally (even today) and some were even belittling the older generations for not speaking up to defend themselves. Just look at some of the Nisei who spoke up against the injustices: they ended up in a POW camp at Petawawa or Angler, Ontario (769 of them)!
Yes, the government was responsible for preventing some of our family values to be passed on for certain!
In some family gatherings I’ve seen the Issei elders were just sitting by themselves isolated from the main gathering of young ones. The transition of generations affected the JCs very much due to the internment and didn’t take place smoothly as it could have been if it took its natural course. Now some of the Yonsei want to know more about their past heritage and are even learning Japanese. It’s strange how things go. Yes, as one of the younger Nisei at that time I was hurt and angry about what took place going through it first hand and the Sansei and Yonsei were angry at Canada too but also at their parents for not revealing their past history much and found out stories of the internment from history class in high school even if it was (always biased, mellowed down save face type stories). No wonder they grew up with inferiority complex. Isn’t it about time truth is written in history books? Regardless, the ones that suffered the most were the Issei and older Nisei due to internment and dispersal all over the country or exiled to Japan later (the younger ones just didn’t fit in over there so many came back eventually. It was so sad for them).
My brother-in-law, Vic Hinatsu at age 18 and his older brother, Bob at 20 also were thrown into the POW camp too just for speaking up against the injustice against the JCs. My sister, Mary, didn’t even know that Sumi’s husband, Vic was a POW at Angler, ON until she read my draft story! On my wife’s side, her brother-in-law, Dick Abe at 22 and his older brother, Kinji at 25 received the same treatment.
Nowadays, whenever I bring up the war years and what the B.C. government and the Canadian federal government did to us, it ends without too much discussion at all with Mary, my oldest sister, just saying, “They stole everything from us. End of story”.
I guess it can’t be put simpler than that! I took it as, not only did they take away all our roots and material positions; they also took all our dignity and pride away too. In her case, she had to take high school correspondence courses all during the war years as there weren’t any teachers provided by the government nor was there anybody around qualified to teach. Then, later she had to work.
Below is very much about the overall picture I saw in a nutshell through my experiences, memories and what I conclude today:
Regarding the B.C. Government stealing and taking our dignity/pride away – That was the worst heinous act human beings can do to other human beings in the world especially to their fellow Canadian citizens in a democratic country. They believed that they were a superior race, violated our human rights, and never mind being called Japs, the worst racial slur we couldn’t handle, they labeled us all as Enemy Aliens!
The Issei were working hard living through racial discrimination and were at their prime being recognized by their community as being successful in their lives and their children looking up to them as they were good role models. Then, overnight the ruthless government stripped away literally everything from them (roots, material things, as well as their dignity/pride) just because they were ‘yellow’ and reduced them into a ‘nothing’ – like a throw-away animal, a criminal (without basis), families split up, ignored and isolated by thrown into animal stalls, internment camps, road working camps, jails, or P.O.W. camps, so as homeless people and without even jobs they did feel like a nothing and this continued for years and years! When I mention roots, I mean J-town where we were born, the heart which was our security blanket that we could always fall back to for comfort, which is very important for visible minorities.
It wasn’t only the incarceration part that hurt, it was the long years of delay even after the war trying to ethnic cleanse us right out of B.C. and the after effects was even worse which continued for many generations. When you were the ‘breadwinner’ of your family, how would anyone feel? Think about all this, people work all their lives to own a home, pay it off and save enough for retirement! After the war ended, for most Issei it was very difficult to find jobs that fitted their skills. Also, without money the Issei couldn’t properly provide towards their children’s needs and higher education.
Many students to their credit worked through their higher education, obtaining part time and summer jobs. Some even delayed their schooling for several years to save money first. The older Nisei’s dreams were really shattered even more so and their course of life changed drastically as their schoolings (high school and university) were interrupted and they later had to help their families to become the ‘breadwinner’ to restart their lives again – this changed their lives forever.
What kind of a so called democratic country would do such a thing to their citizens? Yes, they were real hypocrites/bigots and had no conscience or remorse at all for what they did, devastating people’s lives. For the Issei during those durations, it must have been their lowest ebb of their lives! As for the past B.C. government, like their forefathers had no social conscience in their actions towards the JC citizens and no sense of moral responsibility. If they were remorseful they would have confessed the truth by now! Actually, those descriptive words above would indicate that they were a ‘sociopath’ government and that’s exactly what they were.
The Issei suffered deeply as they were no longer looked up to. The older Nisei understood what was happening so they were good support but look at the younger Nisei and the later generations – they had no longer role models to lead them forth and some even looked down on the Issei and belittled them in many ways and that hurt. They were all psychologically affected for certain.
Each generation was affected but in different ways and it was all in a sad way, everybody’s self-worth were destroyed during that period and that was mental torture and cruelty. The JC community is saying that it’s just amazing how most of the JCs recovered from the bashings and mental traumas they went through and became better than average model citizens of Canada in time. It must have been due to having faith, the ‘gaman’ (tolerate) and ‘gambaru’ (persevere) teachings that were left behind by the Issei for us to follow. ’Do ryo ku’ (always do the best you can, strive for excellence) family value was most important too and there were many more that we learned. This psychological recovery part is just wishful thinking! Just ask any sociologist or psychologist if this can occur without therapy!
As for the many psychologically affected depressed victims with post-traumatic stress disorder it is very difficult to see the effects as victims hide their identity by pretending and acting as if nothing had happened to them, even throwing away their heritage and in extreme situations acting as though they are white. Gaman (tolerate) is good and bad and the JCs are misusing it by not opening up with the truth!
But financially, the JCs recovered because the Issei pushed us to get proper education!
What humiliations we had to go through and this left a very deep scar in our lives forever. I also find it just amazing that nobody ever did turn out to become criminally insane to get revenge when bullied like that for so many years. And, just think – all this started and happened because of the outcry we kept hearing ‘Keep B.C. White Only’ long, long ago even before the war started as we were ‘yellow’ and competition fear. This outcry just didn’t start because of the war!
As for the B.C. government, they accomplished their agendas in a real sneaky way by use of exceptional con-artistry brainwashing threats against the JCs while being able to keep most of everything they did hidden (pushing, threatening and conniving the feds to deport all Japanese, no matter what their nationality status were along with their families at the beginning).
The government was very tricky to the public and us through very cunning propaganda using words such as – 1, Referring to us as ‘Enemy Aliens’ to get their premeditated ethnic cleansing agenda started. 2, ’Evacuation’ instead of forced removal from our homes. 3, ’Relocating’ us to ‘relocation centers’ instead of rounding us up and jailing us in internment-concentration like camps, etc. 4, ‘Repatriating’ us ‘back home’ to Japan instead of exiling JC born citizens that have never seen Japan ever before – so, deporting to where? 5, ’Protecting us from the coast people’s deep resentment against the JCs/Japan’ (still telling us that we were enemy aliens) and for that reason to ban us from returning to the coast as it will take time to ‘forgive us?’ instead of saying they need more time, four or so more years after the war ended for ethnic cleansing purposes. 6, ‘Internment was a military necessity’ as JCs couldn’t be trusted if Japanese submarines attacked the west coast they said. While saying that, they conveniently ignored the German submarines sinking our supply ships along the east Atlantic shores and German Canadians weren’t interned. 7, They said that the dispersal of JCs over the Rockies into the melting pot was a requirement blaming us for the cause of their racial prejudice towards us due to concentrations of J-town type settlements instead of admitting to ethnic cleansing us out of B.C.
I can’t remember the words they used to impound our automobiles, to sell off all our homes (contents/valuables and all), sell off or confiscate our businesses to prevent us from returning and to start the ethnic cleansing process but I’m sure they had one for that too. What did they say about throwing the 769 young JCs in POW Concentration camps when they spoke up against the injustices? They pretty well kept silent on these. They had us so brainwashed that we were using their exact words they used, even today. Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare what we saw took place and what’s in the B.C. government archives?
As for the B.C. Government’s apology on May 7, 2012, it puzzles me why they dealt only with the B.C. JCs and not nationally. I suspect that the B.C. government jumped at the chance to push the apology through by not having to reveal the ‘hidden truth’. Right now it’s the same old story and an excuse – the B.C. government ‘had to follow’ the War Measures Act which is a cover-up. There has been no mention that they threw out the RCMP’s and Fed’s ‘no threat – no security risk’ reports and pushed, connived and threatened the Feds to use the WMA to do the ethnic cleansing which was their main objective, – to make it legal through Canadian law. They must have checked it out with the Americans as their law prohibited them from doing what Canada did. All this had been revealed by activists searching through the government archives soon after Redress. It’s very hard for humans to admit guilt and will have excuses, denials, hide it, blame others, twist things 180 degrees, or just keep quiet and the past B.C. government used them all! But it’s so easy to admit the truth. Just man it up!
Everybody knows this equation: Bullying + Complaint = Sorry + Agreeable Acknowledgement + Forgiveness = Healing Process and Friendship with respect to move forward by righting the wrongs jointly.
Status today? The B.C. government and JCs must work together for the government to provide a written agreeable and truthful Acknowledgement which is still outstanding. At present, no matter how many JCs’ stories are collected, they are considered ‘whining stories’ and will all be swept under the carpet. How can the historians and school history/social studies book writers tell the truth w/o this acknowledgement but to write their twisted and fabricated propaganda stories to soften the government’s criminal acts? The true JC experience stories can be a powerful educational tool to counteract bullying and must be made mandatory studies (not electives) in the school curriculums for every province. Each province is separately responsible for its own educational curriculum. I am actually surprised that educational experts and teachers are not objecting towards the Boards of Education of every province for having to teach outdated nation building type stories.
NAJC can ask for a written truthful acknowledgement can they not without worrying about back-lashes? The truth is the most important thing. This prevents bad history from repeating itself. And, this should be NAJC’s first priority which had been outstanding and neglected for almost 25 years since Redress. Wasn’t the NAJC provided funds to work against racial prejudice in 1988 and if we are running short of cash, I’m sure the Federal government will provide more for doing their job to try and write the truths into the Canadian history books; but it just isn’t working as it requires joint effort.
By the way, in the fall of 2013 the Vancouver City apologized as well but also without an Acknowledgement! Why isn’t the Federal government’s Canadian Heritage Minister, Shelly Glover involved and be on top of all this?
This (adopted Ontarian) Canadian had a very long, long struggle to find out who I was and who I am, identity-wise although my birth certificate told me that I was a Canadian. In 1942, the B.C. government (my supposedly biological parents) brainwashed or forced me into believing that I was an ‘Enemy Alien’ and threw me away because of my yellow skin colour. As for being an unwanted orphan for so long, was I ever happy in 1949 that the Ontario people adopted me and accepted me with no questions asked and gave me unconditional love!
I’ve found out, what is life without love and kindness. At last I understood why they say ‘God is Love. Then 48 years later the Federal Government finally apologized to us individually so I was a Canadian again I thought at that time. Our Federal government did provide an Acknowledgement in the 1988 Redress and the JC committee agreed then but without the inside knowledge of the government side so we were duped! Also, how was the committee to know and understand the devastating psychological aftermath effects? Do you understand what I’m saying? This is very important to me as Canada was where I was born and this is the only country that I know, it’s my home. No it isn’t, B.C. told me and they still haven’t peeled off the ‘Enemy Alien’ label off me yet (actually it feels ‘engraved’ into my brain and not on my wrist like what happened to the Jewish people!).
They say that people are products of their upbringing and experiences so the mass of us minority group JCs are masking the post-traumatic stress disorder suffered, scared and pretending that nothing did really happen to us even when racial prejudice still exists and will as you can see it even today. Typically like battered wives or husbands, most JCs don’t want to talk about their past truths if you have noticed? We didn’t receive group therapy like soldiers returning home after the war and they suffer hellish nightmares for the rest of their lives and they too won’t talk about the war but for a different reason! But for myself I’ve ignored all that feeling of low self-esteem, etc., as while I was writing the truth I’ve experienced that it was therapeutic after 75 years. Yes, I don’t feel that inferiority complex much anymore – I am really now a confident Canadian again, proud that I was created yellow, made my contributions to Canada and I love my country. I am just practicing my equal rights won since 1949. Why take a back seat when the front seat is open to do ‘good things’ and try to make our multicultural Canada Best in Class? Yes, it’s our generation’s responsibility to leave the truthful JC Experience history for the next generation and on.
We are all human beings and we learn through mistakes and not repeat it. Never mind excuses and if there is one, it will never get done. All it takes for all of us is to turn the negatives into positives.
What a life I had to go through, – a real struggle to find out who I was and who I am! But most of all, I’ll remember what our Issei forefathers sacrificed for us, our Canadian pioneering HEROES who paved the way for us younger generations.
Thank you very much, especially Mom and Dad!
Norm Ibuki, you were the only one that ever asked me for an interview. Thanks doctor Norm, releasing my blocked past and thoughts was very therapeutic for me and I hope it helps others as well! Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to pass on my story to our younger generations, general public, the provincial governments, as well as the federal government since they hold the future and power to move forth Canada, this wonderful country of ours, positively in every way possible.
We were all lead to believe that Canada was the most compassionate democratic country in this world so many people are questioning – Can Canada seriously challenge other countries even today on how they treat their citizens without acknowledging its own failures towards the JCs and also towards the Aboriginals?
Are you listening, Prime Minister Harper and B.C. premier, Christy Clark? There are old outstanding and important tasks that need to be prioritized to help Canada move forward in our eyes and in the eyes of the world. Please walk your talks and be good role models.
Maybe someday people will treat others the way they themselves would like to be treated just the way Jesus taught us how to live with love, kindness and respect over 2000 years ago. Then, there will be peace on earth.
Hello Eleanor McKenzie,
Yes, we are the right Maikawas and I do recollect you playing with my oldest sister, Toshiko (Mary) who now lives in Montreal. Our house was sold by the government after we were interned without our consent and when I returned to Vancouver to check it out sometime in the 70s the house was already demolished and 2 homes were built on that double lot. It would be interesting to hear how you ended up in this area. – Frank Maikawa
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I lived at 125 N Slocan St— Corner of Slocan and Oxford Did you live at the corner of Cambridge and Slocan? I think the little girl in your family portrait was Joan and I (born in 1931) used to play with her and she was at my birthday parties I now live in Blue Mountains Collingwood love to hear from you Eleanor McKenzie