I have come to understand that for myself, oral history has an immediacy and intimacy that third-person histories and biographies often fail to capture. So even though I failed at the time to appreciate the rich history that surrounded me as I was growing up in the Strathcona neighbourhood, I am still able to access the stories that were captured by those who had more foresight than I did.
Having deep roots doesn’t mean one is cut one off from the many possibilities of life. On the contrary, they can provide nourishment and sustenance throughout ones’ life. And really, strong and healthy roots below ground ultimately lead to strong and healthy branches reaching upwards towards the sky.
What if we were to look into the face of the “other” and see not the enemy, but ourselves? Or better yet, what if we were to look in the mirror one morning and see the “other” reflected back at ourselves. Most of the barriers we set up are, after all, invisible. If we were to dismantle the artificial walls that we have erected around ourselves the world would be a more wide open and tolerant place.
It is no accident that prior to the war, while Japanese Canadians were facing racial discrimination in their everyday lives, the best minds of the community were engaged in legal challenges before the courts, arguing for equal treatment before the law. They understood that as long as they were seen as second class citizens in the eyes of the law, that they would never achieve equality in the eyes of their fellow Canadians.
In retrospect, walking through the door that night on Cordova Street, guitar in hand, changed the trajectory of my life. Following my performance, I was approached by a group of folks who invited me to join their band, Kokuho Rose. And just like that, I was part of a community.
It was a revelation to discover that this new community I was suddenly part of was in fact made up of three distinct generations: the issei, my grandparent’s generation, whom I couldn’t understand; the sansei, as described above; and the nisei, who fit neither description.
If there is one thing that separates childhood from adulthood, it is the perception of snow. For those of us who have to drive...
In the narrative, birds fly above the earth, endlessly circling, with no place to land. When the father of one of the birds dies, the flock is perplexed—there is nowhere to bury him. After some thought, the young bird buries her father in the back of her head. This, says Anderson, is the beginning of memory . . .
It is one thing to go back over one’s own memories—events that shaped us, for better or for worse. But what is it that drives us to go back over events that we were not part of, that happened, in many cases, before we were even born? What is it that moves us to ruminate on the past? I suppose you could quote George Santayana, who famously said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
When the Japanese Canadian Redress settlement was signed on September 22, 1988, I was 29 years old. Although the settlement had no direct impact...
From the outside, to those who have never attended the Folk Festival, it can seem like nothing more than an exotic mélange of aging hippies, pierced, tattooed youths and assorted other anti-establishment types squatting in the dirt in front of small stages to listen to music that would never be heard anywhere else outside of the CBC.
“May you live in interesting times . . .” According to Wikipedia, this double-edged saying/curse is thought to originate in China, although no one...