In what has been an educational (and eye-straining) experience for me, I have spent the past few months going through the archives at the JCCA office, looking through old copies of The Bulletin. It has been both eye-opening and humbling, reading the efforts of those who created and nurtured The Bulletin over the past fifty years—people like founder Mickey Tanaka and Gordon Kadota, who steered it through the early days, through longtime publisher Gordon Mayede and, in the mid-eighties, Tamio Wakayama, Sumio Koike and Fumiko Greenaway, who transformed The Bulletin into something close to its present-day form. There are of course many more individuals who made their mark over the years with little or no recognition, and I tip my hat to them. I also have to apologize for my extremely Anglo-centric coverage of the Bulletin’s 50th Anniversary. As a non-Japanese speaker (or reader) with limited time available to me, I will have to leave the history of the Geppo up to some future historian with more linguistic ability than myself.
This month, in part II of the history of The Bulletin (yes, there will be a part III next month—I naively thought I could fit the whole history into one issue and now it’s going at least three), we look at a critical time in the history of the JCCA and The Bulletin—the years following the Japanese Canadian Centennial in 1977 right up to the start of the Redress movement in the early to mid eighties. In retrospect, the schism that occurred within the community was inevitable. While not split entirely down generational lines, the takeover of the JCCA board at the Annual General Meeting in 1984 had the effect of bringing the sansei into the equation, creating a volatile mix of the old guard and the new. Reading though back issues from that time, it is plain that tensions were running high. Sometimes you have to read between the lines, and sometimes it is right there in black and white. As someone who was only peripherally involved in the Redress movement, it is not for me to judge those who fought hard for what they believed in, whatever side of the line they stood on. I think I can say, though, that the passion that arose from those tumultuous years has served the community well—creating dialogue out of silence, and forcing many to confront the issues head on.
It was not an easy time, and consensus was hard to come by. But just like great art often comes out of difficult times, the tangible benefits of the Redress movement can be seen in birth of the “new” Bulletin in 1984, when the dormant power of what had been a sleepy community paper was harnessed. The legacy of those times can be seen in today’s Bulletin. While we will never achieve wide readership among the general population, we have an important role to play within the community and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.