Memory, reconciliation, acceptance. Three simple words that run through this month’s issue. On the eve of the annual Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial we pay tribute to the young men who, refusing to take no for an answer, managed to serve their country during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. Their motives were two-fold – to fight for the country they called home; and to gain acceptance for their community, to prove their loyalty to a country and a province that would not willingly see them as Canadians. It wasn’t an easy battle – the one for acceptance – but they persevered. And we are the better for their victory. Some of them never made it home, and it is in their memory that we gather under skies free of bombers and rockets, held within the circle of the cenotaph, shoulder to shoulder, remembering those we never knew, except through B&W photographs and history books. I like to think that they would be pleased to know that they gained more than acceptance through their sacrifice, they gained something greater – honour. And, too, a place within the history of this country that strives for greatness itself, not always attaining it, but keeping it within its sights.
I believe that greatness will not be achieved until the festering sore that is our relationship with First Nations peoples is, if not healed, then at least salved. The path towards reconciliation is not an easy one – there are so many layers to wade through – but is worth the effort, for all parties involved.
My thanks to John Hayashi and Mas Fukawa who sent in pieces this month, triggered by their involvement in the Walk for Reconciliation. Their words, heartfelt and honest, ring true to me.
Thanks also to James Koyanagi who sent an email asking if he could share with our readers his search for his father’s cousin, Private Hikotaro Koyanagi, who was killed on the 1st day of the Battle of Passchendale on Oct 26, 1917.
Memory, reconciliation, acceptance.
See you next month.