Greg Nesteroff

Greg Nesteroff is editor of the Nelson (BC) Star and is interested in the history of the West Kootenay region of British Columbia.

Updated January 2016

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The Story of Slocan’s Japanese Monument

There’s only one obvious sign today that Slocan, British Columbia was an internment camp for Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

At the back of the village cemetery, a picket fence surrounds a rock slab with two trees growing out of it and a wooden pillar between them with Japanese inscriptions on all four sides. The origin and meaning of this monument has been the source of considerable speculation and puzzlement. Who put it there and when? Is it actually a burial site?

Some answers appeared thanks to Simon Fraser University, which digitized The New Canadian, a Japanese ...

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The mystery of Kaslo’s first Japanese Canadian

When Japanese Canadians were forced from their homes on the British Columbia coast and interned in the interior mining town of Kaslo in 1942, one of them was already living there.

Although Koto Kennedy is not totally forgotten, little has been written about her, and what we do know about her is shrouded in mystery and speculation.

We don’t even know her birth name for certain: it was most likely Koto Shimizu, but her first name is sometimes given as Kato, and her maiden name as Shaunan or Shinnizn, probably from a misreading of handwritten documents.

She was born ...

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Aya Higashi: Kaslo’s last Nisei daughter

Aya Higashi, the last remaining Kaslo, British Columbia, resident interned there during the Second World War, died last year at 96.

Higashi enjoyed a long teaching career in the former Japanese-Canadian interment camps of Slocan and Kaslo. In a 2012 interview, she proudly declared she never used corporal punishment. “Sometimes former students say ‘We were bad kids, weren’t we?’ I never knew a bad kid. In 33 years of teaching, I never yelled at a kid nor strapped nor shook them. My kids, I hug them.”

Higashi was born Ayako Atagi in Campbell River, British Columbia, and grew up ...

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