Graduation Day: Honorary degree ceremony for Japanese Canadian students of 1942
When a wheelchair-bound Charlie Kadota led a group of former UBC students onto the stage to accept their honorary degrees at the Chan Centre on May 30, the audience rose as one and a roar of applause filled the theatre. It was the crowning moment in a day that was filled with emotion and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was as if the entire ceremony had been leading up to this cathartic moment. It was at once momentous and very human, the frailty of many of the recipients bringing home how precious this moment was.
Credit goes to Mary Kitagawa who, five years ago, instigated the process of conferring honorary degrees on the students of 1942, and to she and her husband Tosh for seeing it through to this great day—eventually identifying each and every former student. Great credit also goes to the University of British Columbia who, once they came aboard, devoted themselves fully to the task of creating a truly heartfelt and memorable occasion.
With all the pomp and circumstance befitting this historic occasion, those attending—and there were many from the community there to witness it—were treated to a transcendent event that did justice to those who were, after all these years, receiving not just justice, but honour.
The afternoon featured, among other things, a welcome by Musqueam Elder Larry Grant, a screening of the Suzanne Tabata film Welcome Home: A tribute to the Japanese Canadian Students of 1942, an address by Chancellor Sarah Morgan-Silvester and guest speaker Arthur K. Miki, former President of the National Association of Japanese Canadians.
The audience was also treated to an excerpt from Shadow Catch, featuring baritone Michael Mori, Martin Fisk and Mark Takeshi McGregor. Dal Richards, leading a trio, performed several songs from the 1940s. Remarks were given by UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen J. Toope.
1942 Japanese Canadian UBC Students Fund
A fund has been created as a tribute to recognize the Japanese Canadian students of 1942. Donations will support the community-based research of the Asian Canadian Studies program, as part of UBC’s commitment to educating future students about the injustices of the Second World War. For more information, please visit: startanevolution.ubc.ca/projects/1942-japanese-canadian-ubc-students-fund
UBC Ceremony on the Web
A new video by Al Yoshizawa and Elena Kusaka is available for viewing online. It presents a broad overview of Convocation Day, culminating with the ceremony and interviews after the ceremony: www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGdwFXXioFA
To view the entire Congregation Ceremony, visit japanese-canadian-student-tribute.ubc.ca/the-ceremony
For complete information on the Japanese Canadian students of 1942, including all videos, photos, program and more, visit: