Canadian Nikkei Artist

Canadian Nikkei Artist series will focus on those in the Japanese Canadian community who are actively involved in the ongoing evolution: the artists, musicians, writers/poets and, broadly speaking, anybody else in the arts who grapples with their sense of identity. As such, the series will introduce Discover Nikkei readers to a wide range of ‘voices’, both established and emerging, that have something to say about their identity. This series aims to stir this cultural pot of Nikkeiness and, ultimately, build meaningful connections with Nikkei everywhere.

identity en

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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culture en

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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culture en

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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