Remembrance Day 2014 (with gallery)
by Linda Kawamoto Reid
Remembrance Day 2014 began a few weeks early with the atrocious acts in Montreal and Ottawa that claimed the lives of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The swelling of national pride was evident with the increased attendance at the memorial services at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial on November 11, 2014. Over 500 were in attendance on the beautiful sunny but cold day. We especially thank the Vancouver Police Department, the Mounted Squad and the RCMP in uniforms for the extra responsibility they shouldered this year for being armed and on alert for any suspicious activity.
Our moderator Gordon Kadota gave a moving tribute to the fallen soldiers and police officers and reminded us all that terrorism is an international concern and that Canada continues to have a role to play. For those soldiers willing to take those risks, we have the utmost respect and admiration. Gordon summarized the history of Japanese Canadian in the First World War: their attempts to enlist in BC despite racist politics, their eventual enlistment in Alberta and the loss of 54 soldiers. A battle for franchise won in 1931 by Sergeant Mitsui for First World War veterans has been acknowledged by Parks Canada and one of the cairns erected is in preparation for that plaque.
During the Second World War, despite being declared enemy aliens and dispersed across Canada, Japanese Canadians enlisted to continue the fight for the franchise. Soldiers that were deported to Japan in 1946, enlisted in Japan to fight for Canada in the Korean War. More recently, Trooper Hayakaze lost his life in the Afghanistan War, and his name is now engraved on the monument. Gordon also co-sponsored the film crew of Heyman & Furukawa who will be producing a DVD of the ceremony & reception on this special centenary of Japanese Canadian participation in four wars. Thank you Gordon!
Seventeen wreaths were laid this year. Legion #9 – David Mitsui, PPLI – Tim Tamashiro, S-20 & Nisei Vets- Frank Moritsugu, Veteran’s Affairs- Suzanne Hetherington, NAJC-Tosh Kitagawa, Consulate General of Japan-Consul General Seiji Okada, NNMCC – Roger Lemire, GVJCCA – Gary Matson, RCMP-Corporal Peter Somerville & Superintendant Brandon Fitzpatrick, City of Vancouver- Councilor Kerry Jang, VPD-Superintendent Mike Porteous, Vancouver Parks Board – Commissioner Trevor Loke, UBC Director of Intercultural Exchange- Alden Habacon, Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temples of Canada-Mrs. Lucy Yoshioka, Konko Church of Vancouver – Mrs. Jane Hashimoto, Seicho-no-ie Church of Vancouver – Ms. Cleusa Sachiko Yamamoto, and the Japanese Christian Churches of Greater Vancouver – Rev Yutaka Zama.
Gordon invited everyone to admire the gleaming restoration of the cenotaph which looked fabulous in the bright sunlight. The sandstone column has been lovingly restored by a stonemason (using a hand sand blasting machine while balancing on a boom lift). We can now see all the beautiful colors of the granite, marble, terracotta and limestone. The terracotta roof with decorative lion heads is also visible. The base was cleaned, the joints were pointed, the entire plaza was cleaned, and the bollards were also painted. We thank Van den Kerkhof and Son Stonemasons for doing such an excellent job on the restoration, and Donald Luxton, heritage consultant for his expert guidance on the restoration. Donald is working on heritage designation for the monument so that we can more effectively work together with Vancouver Parks in the future.
THEY WENT TO WAR CAMPAIGN
The year-long campaign to restore the cenotaph in partnership with the Nikkei Palace Foundation was a rewarding and fulfilling endeavor that will prove to have benefits for many years to come. The cenotaph has become a pilgrimage and homage to the history of Japanese Canadians and the battles fought for freedom and citizenship. Major funding was provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs which allowed us to do the important maintenance and renovations. If we are successful with our request to the BC Heritage Legacy Fund, we will undertake the final phase which is restoration of the marble lantern on top of the cenotaph. We thank everyone for their support for the memorial, which is one of the finest visible and tangible icons of Japanese Canadian history. A welcome surprise was a substantial donation from the Howard Green Foundation, by request from the family. It was a gesture in part for reparation for his support of dispersal and to acknowledge that he too was a Veteran. We very much appreciate the kind-hearted support from the Green family. We have successfully raised over $100,000 with grants and community donations but there is more to do, so the campaign has been extended until Dec 31, 2014.
Following the ceremony, piper Edward MacIlwaine led the guests into the Stanley Park Pavilion while the Veterans remained at the cenotaph for photo opportunities. The beautiful, warm, inviting hall was the perfect place to gather around the fireplace, and enjoy the display of military artifacts and photos, the fabulous sushi provided by Fujiya, the delicious bite-size wraps from the Pavilion, and the manju provided by Tonari Gumi and the NNMCC Auxiliary. The newly restored Honour Rolls were also on loan from the Vancouver Japanese Language School. We hope people had a chance to read the beautiful eight-page colour brochure designed by John Endo Greenaway describing the four wars, the restoration projects and thanks to donors. We were also honoured with the presence of Kaye Kishibe, the author of Battlefield at Last, a tribute to the efforts of the First World War soldiers. Kaye has generously donated 150 of his books to the JCWMC to sell for our fundraising efforts. He was present for the book signing. Thanks Kaye!!
Veterans In attendance were: Korean War: Karl Konishi, Don Yamane, Dick Nakamura, Lanky Yeiji Inouye, and Ray Nakamoto. S-20 Nisei veteran of the Second World War: Frank Moritsugu. Active in the Medical Service Corps: Ken Iwaasa, physician who has served in the Afghanistan War and Michiko Carignan, who served in the RCAF during peacetime.
Shinobu Homma started off the reception with a rousing taiko drum solo as a deep tribute to the soldiers who came before us. Tim Tamashiro, our guest MC from Calgary, is the host of the CBC Jazz program Tonic. He brought warmth and humour to the reception. It was a special moment for him to lay a wreath in honour of his grandfather’s unit – the Princess Patricia Light Infantry.
Frank Moritsugu, special guest veteran from Toronto, took an item off his bucket list to come out to lay a wreath for his comrades on the War Memorial. Born in Port Alice, and schooled in Kitsilano, Frank’s journalism career spanned several decades and his education spanned many provinces. He shared amazing memories of the war years, the songs they sung, and the spirit they embodied as they experienced some horrific results of war. Not only is Frank a descriptive writer but he has a wonderful sense of humour and is a great story teller. And how many people today intersperse a war story with war tunes on a harmonica? And do a little jig at the same time? Frank’s performance was a highlight of the afternoon.
Suzanne Hetherington, Area Manager for BC and Yukon Branch of the Veteran’s Affairs, spoke great words of dedication and sacrifice. Councilor Kerry Jang, City of Vancouver, was instrumental in the partnership between the City and the JCWMC, and has been a great champion for the Japanese Canadian community. Comissioner Trevor Loke, Vancouver Parks Board, spoke of the historic importance of the monument in Stanley Park and how the partnership between the Parks and the JCWMC is a benefit to all. The reception ended with cake cutting and more photos.
Thank you to all the people who contributed funds, help, and support to this major project over the last year. We have listed our donors by name up until Oct 21, 2014 in our commemorative brochure. Please contact us if you would like a copy.
For this year’s reception donations we wish to thank: Cindy Beatch; Judy Hanazawa; Ted Hayakaze; Shinobu Homma; Chiyoko, Dennis & Kelvin Inouye; In Memory of Kiyoji Iizuka-Fumio, Hiromi,Todd, Michelle, Craig & John Iizuka; Jean & Wakao Kamimura; Teruo Kimura; Irene Kinoshita; Karl Konishi; L. Shoji Lee; Elmer Morishita; Ray Nakamoto; James Niland; Ron Nishimura; Linda Ohama; Kimiko Sato; ; Irene Shiho; Mandy Shintani; Teresa Shimbashi & John Hougan; Hiroko Stuart; Kenneth & Rosemary Takeuchi; Francisco Tamaki; Yoshin Tamaki; Chuck Tasaka; Janet Waterman and many anonymous donors.
Special thanks to our volunteers for taking care of the over 300 people who crowded into the Pavilion: Chic Tanaka, Shag Ando, May Sato, Lillian Miyashita, Naomi Chiu, April Shimizu, Katie, Hiroko Stuart, Winola Chiu, Betty Tasaka, Naomi Kamiya, Alice Takaei, Walt Shore, Sanaye Ikari, Lynn Kobayashi, Kaz Takahashi, Cameron Reid, Beth Carter, Frank Kamiya, and David Iwaasa for bringing the stage and coordinating Tonari Gumi volunteers. Thanks also go out to Ray Ota, Christopher & Michael Yamauchi, Cameron Reid, Baxter Kobe Florists, and Kami Insurance for their contributions to the ceremony.
For more information on the Restoration projects, the commemorative brochures, to acquire a copy of Battlefield at Last, or to contribute to our next project which will be a book to commemorate our First World War veterans which is due to be released in the centenary of their enlistment in 2016; please contact Linda Kawamoto Reid, Chair of the Japanese Canadian War Memorial Committee at lreid@nikkei place.org or 604.777.7000 ext 111.
A gallery from this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park. Photos by John Endo Greenaway