This month, we present part three of the history of The Bulletin. As I wrote last month, it has been quite an experience poring through the stacks of back issues, searching out the stories and events that played out on the pages of our little community magazine over the past 50 years. Let me say again that I have gained renewed respect for all those that came before me—both at The Bulletin, and the JCCA itself. While our community has many strengths, as evidenced by its ability to rise above daunting challenges (and even thrive), it can also be very difficult to navigate, particularly if one is perceived to be in a position of power or influence. While praise can be hard to come by, criticism, intense scrutiny and intolerance for even the smallest transgressions are not. I feel fortunate to have had a relatively easy ride in my time in the editor’s chair (touch wood), or perhaps I’m just oblivious to what’s being said behind my back! From what I have read and witnessed first hand, though, it can be an unforgiving community when it comes to its own. Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the old adage “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” And maybe it goes hand in hand with the perfectionism that seems to drive the community as a whole—truly a double-edged sword that has left many wounded.
This month has been especially illuminating as we tackle the years 1984 through 1986. At the time, the politics of Expo 86 were polarizing residents of the lower mainland, even as we were welcoming the world to our doorstep and bringing unaccustomed attention to the region. It was also a time of immense energy and struggle for the Nikkei community on the west coast. The sansei were coming into their own, delving into their heritage for the first time; groups like Katari Taiko and Kokoro Dance were discovering a source of creativity and inspiration in their shared roots; the health and well-being of the community’s elders was beginning to be of concern to many; and the idea of building a cultural centre was starting to move beyond the “wouldn’t it be nice” stage.
And of course the Redress movement was creating its own polarization. Passions ran high as a fierce war of words was waged between Vancouver and Toronto. At stake—the credibility of the Redress movement (and by extension the community itself) in the eyes of the public and those in power. Not everything made it into the pages of The Bulletin of course (and much of the mud-slinging seems to have occurred in the Toronto-based Canada Times and New Canadian), but there is enough to get an idea of the bad blood and vitriol that threatened to derail the entire process.
Of course there was much good that went along with the bad, one of the by-products of the Redress movement being the renewal of The Bulletin as a timely and relevant publication. While Redress was certainly the catalyst for change, it by no means defined The Bulletin’s contents. Instead, it became a vehicle for exploring the many facets of the community, of helping the generations to understand each other, and of celebrating our many accomplishments.
Stay tuned next month as we document the final year and a half leading up to the Redress settlement (spoiler alert), including dealings with Vancouver’s underworld and a bus trip into the past . . .