memories of my mother
When I took over as English editor of The Bulletin almost 19 years ago in the fall of 1993 my mother Fumiko Greenaway was managing editor, a role she had filled since the mid eighties, in the midst of the Redress movement.
The battle for redress was fought not only with the Canadian government, but within the community itself and The Bulletin was crucial for disseminating information and building support within the community. When the JCCA Board of Directors declined to support the demand for individual compensation, it was taken over by community activists at the 1984 AGM. Both the editor and Bulletin staff resigned.
October 1984 marked the first issue of The Bulletin under a new board and new editorial staff with Tamio Wakayama as managing editor, Tamio and Randy Enomoto as English editors and Sumio Koike as Japanese language editor. Fumiko took on the role of office manager but soon took over as managing editor as Tamio shifted to editor-in-chief.
Within a few months, a new format began to take shape, one that would set the template for The Bulletin we have today. The November issue featured news from Tonari Gumi, poetry by Roy Miki and Joy Kogawa, Tamio’s photography, a review of Katari Taiko’s 5th anniversary concert at the Playhouse, a Remembrance Day feature and a piece on the NAJC redress brief and other redress updates.
In December of 1984 the first Community Kitchen appeared with recipes from Lillian Kadota (Jelly Mochi) and Lynn Enomoto Westwood (Magic Cookie Bars).
Appearing sporadically at first, the column soon became popular among readers and within a few years was a regular fixture.
After Redress was achieved in September 1988, The Bulletin retained its relevance in a community that was coming into its own with a new energy and sense of purpose. Bulletin staff came and went, but Fumiko remained the constant—maintaining a steady course and a sense of continuity.
Although she retired as managing editor in the spring of 1994, Fumiko continued the Community Kitchen column. Her final recipe appeared in 2000, shortly after suffering a stroke. In June 2001, she and Tod moved to Nelson, BC, looking for a quieter lifestyle. That move marked the end of an era for our family.
When Fumiko passed away in Nelson, BC on December 21 it brought back many half-buried memories of my childhood and beyond, of growing up in England, Montreal and Toronto, but mostly of our life in Vancouver, specifically after when we moved to Strathcona. It was here, in a little housing co-op on Union Street that she began to reconnect with her Japanese heritage and roots. And it was here that I myself became aware that I was part of a larger community and got involved, first through music and taiko and then through The Bulletin. In retrospect, we were both embarking on journeys that would profoundly impact the next thirty-plus years of our lives.
At her Celebration of Life, and in the days leading up to it, I was able to see Fumiko’s life in the context of the broader community and the times she was living in and to more fully appreciate both what she gave to others and what she got back in return. Even as she was playing an important role in the post-war Nikkei community it was nourishing her, giving back a sense of herself as a Japanese Canadian.
I was also able to gain a deeper appreciation of my relationship with her, both as a son and a colleague, and the many ways she gently guided me through the years and helped me come into my own. I am proud to be following in her footsteps and to carry on the work at The Bulletin that she and the others started so many years ago.
Shortly after taking over editorial duties I interviewed Fumiko and in the process learned many things about her life that were new to me. This month, in her honour, we reprint that interview along with several of her recipes from the Community Kitchen.