Canadian Nikkei Series

The inspiration for this new Canadian Nikkei interview series is the observance that the gulf between the pre-WW2 Japanese Canadian community and the Shin Ijusha one (post-WW2) has grown tremendously. 

Being “Nikkei” no longer means that one is only of Japanese descent anymore. It is far more likely that Nikkei today are of mixed cultural heritage with names like O’Mara or Hope, can’t speak Japanese and have varying degrees of knowledge about Japan.

It is therefore the aim of this series to pose ideas, challenge some and to engage with other like-minded Discover Nikkei followers in a meaningful discussion that will help us to better understand ourselves.

Canadian Nikkei will introduce you to many Nikkei who I have had the good fortune to come into contact with over the past 20 years here and in Japan. 

Having a common identity is what united the Issei, the first Japanese to arrive in Canada, more than 100 years ago. Even in 2014, it is the remnants of that noble community that is what still binds our community today.

Ultimately, it is the goal of this series to begin a larger online conversation that will help to inform the larger global community about who we are in 2014 and where we might be heading to in the future.

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"To Jesse, with Love": Son Publishes Powell Street Diary

And underneath this sheltering bowl
We call the sky,
Do not lift up your finger;
For It moves as impotently as you or I.

—Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), Persian poet and astronomer

At the 41st Powell Street Festival on August 5 & 6, 2017 in Vancouver, Junji Nishihata will be launching his father Jesse’s book Powell Street Diary: A Remembrance of Life Before Internment posthumously, in his Dad’s pre-WW2 childhood neighborhood, on this, the 75th anniversary of internment.

Junji has been working hard to make this book project come together for many years and, finally, pulled it together in the ...

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Mark Ikeda Interview: Artful Expressions of “Sansei” in Movement and Words - Part 2

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As a Sansei storyteller, can you comment on the importance of telling our own stories in order to learn and grow from those of our parents and grandparents?

That experience is what has kick-started this newest leg of the journey I’m on with Sansei.

I would really like to be able to take it into schools and have these same kinds of conversations with students.

Any success with this?

Still a work in progress. Many schools have expressed interest, and we are still trying to find the right funding / production opportunity to maximize the engagement.

I ...

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Mark Ikeda Interview: Artful Expressions of “Sansei” in Movement and Words - Part 1

How do you express your Nikkeiness?

I know that when I teach I am able to emphasize human and civil rights. I also make a point of referring to periods in history when we (e.g., including Punjabi, First Nations, African Canadians, Chinese) were all targets of racial discrimination in Canada. As Nikkei teachers we need to be cognisant of this deep responsibility to make sure that our Japanese Canadian (JC) experience is not forgotten in the competition for media attention. We Asians are all too often left out of discussions about race.

So, how are you Nikkei? Is it ...

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Province of BC Designates 56 Historical JC Sites: Interview with Lorene Oikawa and Sherri Kajiwara - Part 3

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Can you please talk a bit about your own family history? Internment and where? How and when did they eventually get back to coastal BC?

Lorene: My mother’s side of the family, the Dois, came to Canada in the 1800s from Hiroshima and settled in Cumberland on Vancouver Island. My grandfather, Kenichi Doi, was born in Cumberland. He worked in the mines, in the mills, and as a faller. He loved baseball and was a pitcher for a Cumberland team. He was recruited by the Vancouver Asahi and worked in a mill in Vancouver. There was ...

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Province of BC Designates 56 Historical JC Sites: Interview with Lorene Oikawa and Sherri Kajiwara - Part 2

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From my distant vantage point of Ontario, it seems that there are several initiatives out there in BC that are aimed at righting certain wrongs that Redress didn’t fully address. Any comment?

Lorene: I think being the historic “home” to Japanese Canadians we are more mindful of the injustice that happened here. Although not everyone in our community knows our history. Families typically don’t share their stories. Our stories need to be told. I remember going to Hastings Park during the summer school breaks for the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition), and seeing animals in the ...

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