BCHF News New Japanese Canadian books honoured

New Japanese Canadian books honoured

Four Japanese-Canadian books published in 2017 will be celebrated at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre on November 25, 2017, during the Centre’s 75th Anniversary Book Launch.

The four books being honoured are:

Departures: Chronicling The Expulsion Of The Japanese Canadians From The West Coast 1942-1949 by John Endo Greenaway, Linda Kawamoto Reid and Fumiko Greenaway (Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, September 2017).

In 1942, over 22,000 Japanese Canadians were labelled enemy aliens, forcibly rounded up, and shipped to camps in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, where they were forced to remain until 1949. Using archival photos, the memories of survivors, recipes from the camps, artifacts and poetry (tanka and haiku), Departures presents a multi-dimensional portrait of a people forced from their homes and scattered across a country that did not want them. Woven through the book are the voices of the sansei and yonsei – the third and fourth generations – offering echoes of those years that continue to resonate long after the last camp was closed down.

Witness to Loss: Race, Culpability, and Memory in the Dispossession of Japanese Canadians edited by Jordan Stanger-Ross and Pamela Sugiman (McGill-Queen’s University Press, October 2017).

When the federal government uprooted and interned Japanese Canadians en masse in 1942, Kishizo Kimura saw his life upended along with tens of thousands of others. But his story is also unique: as a member of two controversial committees that oversaw the forced sale of the property of Japanese Canadians in Vancouver during the Second World War, Kimura participated in the dispossession of his own community. In Witness to Loss, Kimura’s previously unknown memoir, written in the last years of his life, is translated from Japanese to English and published for the first time. Augmented by reflections of leading historians, sociologists, and a community activist and educator who lived through this history, Witness to Loss chronicles a history of racism in British Columbia that raises important questions about the meaning of resistance, collaboration and the constraints faced by an entire generation.

The Tree Trunk Can Be My Pillow: The Biography of an Outstanding Japanese Canadian by Tadashi Jack Kagetsu (University of Victoria Press, November 2017).

This book is a son’s tribute to his father, delivered to readers after the death of both. As Jack Kagetsu laboured for a decade on his manuscript — travelling to archives, combing newspaper articles and organizing his findings and his memories into writing — he must have felt that he was discovering parts of himself as well as his father. This very personal history also has communal resonance for Japanese Canadians: it reflects reverence for elders and speaks to the accomplishments and losses of a generation of immigrant founders, the Issei. In the case of Eikichi Kagetsu, both accomplishment and loss were of staggering proportions; perhaps no one else built so much, only to see it stolen in the mid-twentieth century odyssey of Japanese Canadians.

Gateway to Promise: Canada’s First Japanese Community (new Japanese translation) by Ann-Lee & Gordon Switzer; originally published in English in April 2012, revised in 2017; translated into Japanese by team of translators lead by Keiko Miyamatsu-Saunders in 2017.

For the first time, the history of Canada’s pioneer Japanese community — that of Victoria, BC — is recounted. Beginning in the mid-1880s, Victoria was considered the “Gateway to Promise” for Japanese immigrants. This book charts the history of Victoria’s Japanese Canadian community in three sections: section one chronicles settlement of the area from the presence of the earliest races of Japanese on the Coast, then moves to the tragic exile of the Japanese Canadian community to the interior of BC in 1942; section two deals with the history of this exile through topics such as the Japanese Church, the farms, sports and more; section three comprises memoirs of some of the survivors: their youthful days in Victoria and their families. The book is easy to pick up and put down, and includes 200 historic photos. Gateway to Promise was awarded second place in the 2013 British Columbia Historical Society Historical Writing Competition.

For more information about these books and their authors, visit Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre – 75th Anniversary Book Launch.