Norm Masaji Ibuki

Writer Norm Masaji Ibuki lives in Oakville, Ontario. He has written extensively about the Canadian Nikkei community since the early 1990s. He wrote a monthly series of articles (1995-2004) for the Nikkei Voice newspaper (Toronto) which chronicled his experiences while in Sendai, Japan. Norm now teaches elementary school and continues to write for various publications. 

Updated August 2014

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

A journey of becoming ... with Toronto’s Lillian Michiko Blakey - Part 1

Dear Reader:

When did you decide to become “Japanese Canadian” and did that choice come at a cost?

For me, it was when I realized that despite being immersed in a white community, I was not a full member and that my position in it was always qualified and defined by a persistent ‘otherness,’ that stereotype that even my most well intentioned friends can’t seem to see beyond. It’s always the same asinine comments about Japanese culture, baseball, or sushi. This Japanese Canadian (JC) stuff is about being pushed to the edges. White western fetishism with “Japan” has ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

Norman Takeuchi - An Uneasy Harmony of Sorts

“Certain events can have a major impact that will last a lifetime. The forced removal of the Japanese Canadian - my family was among them - from the west coast into the British Columbia (BC) interior in 1942 is one of those events. My troubled feelings regarding this disordered time have remained unfaded along with my ambivalent attitude towards being Canadian of Japanese origin.”

— Artist Norman Takeuchi

As we launch into the new “Canadian Nikkei Artist” series, I wanted to start with artist Norman Takeuchi who was born in 1937 in Vancouver, which means, of course, that he was a victim of ...

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Canadian Nikkei Artist

Toronto art at the Royal Ontario Museum: Being Japanese Canadian: Reflections on a Broken World

What does being Japanese Canadian (JC) mean to you? And, how was the world of your own family broken by the experience of internment?

That answer differs with each one of us. Pondering upon my own answer, I would list factors like my family’s lost histories in BC, internment, forced labour on a Manitoba sugar beet farm, the so-called dispersal ‘east of the Rockies’, settling into tumultuous new lives and careers in Ontario, young families, getting back into contact with old JC friends and establishing JC communities all over again like brand new immigrants. The Issei and Nisei didn ...

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The Lost Highways: BC JC Heritage Sign Project Ends, Ontario’s Begins - Part 2

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Can you tell us a bit about each of the sign sites? What was the local community support like?

It began on October 2017 at Tashme Internment Camp - located beside Sunshine Valley Tashme Museum with a stop of interest sign about thirteen km outside Hope on Highway 3.

On May 2018, a stop of interest sign was installed for the Lillooet self-supporting sites: Bridge River, Minto, McGillvray Falls, East Lillooet, Taylor Lake with East Lillooet.

Our committee partnered with the District of Lillooet (town government) to make the Japanese Canadian Internment Memorial Garden where the sign is ...

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The Lost Highways: BC JC Heritage Sign Project Ends, Ontario’s Begins - Part 1

Certainly one of the most important Japanese Canadian projects that was completed in 2018 was the Highway Legacy Sign Project in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The ambitious eight site project included important reminders that Nisei and Issei men worked as forced labour to build highways in some of the most remote and dangerous areas of BC and Alberta.

In September 2018, the Ontario JC heritage marker program was launched. The first one highlighted a little-known chapter of Japanese Canadian history in Mitchell’s Bay in the Chatham-Kent area where Japanese Canadian families from BC were sent as farm labourers during ...

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