SEDAI: The Japanese Canadian Legacy Project

Sharing the unique history and experiences of Canadians of Japanese ancestry

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sedai Corner – Help Acknowledge a Right During a Time of So Many Wrongs

As the first Sedai Corner of 2014, the whole Sedai Project team wishes you a Happy New Year – 明けましておめでとうございます! Here’s to another year packed with discoveries, memories, and meaning.

Sedai would like to thank our most recent Sedai interviewee and contributor, Joanne Sugiyama. The stories and memories of each individual are invaluable and irreplaceable as unique pieces of the community mosaic. Many thanks for your time and consideration during the holiday season, Joanne!

This year, as part of the JCCC’s annual Sakura Gala, the JCCC would like to highlight and honour the contributions of the Jewish Canadian community, who showed great humanity and greatness of spirit to many Japanese Canadians resettling east of the Rockies following WWII. For those who endured the hardships of forced relocation, internment, Ghost towns, and POW camps, building a new life in a new part of Canada with the few possessions they still owned was an incredibly daunting and frightening proposition. Many Japanese Canadians who found themselves in these dire circumstances were turned away from housing and employment, for reasons often based on lingering racism and discrimination.

However, many Canadian Nikkei were given the chance to start their lives afresh with the assistance of Jewish Canadian business and property owners, who offered employment and shelter above the common prejudices of the day. This aspect of the narrative common to many Japanese Canadians who experienced postwar Canada has gone largely unacknowledged on a community scale – many Canadians in and outside of the Jewish Canadian population have little knowledge of this time period nor this historical gem of Canadian multicultural acceptance.

Here is where you can play a part! Did you, or someone you know, find assistance (eg. employment or housing) through members of the Jewish-Canadian community, following the war? Or do you recall any business names or names of individuals, who you believe should be recognized for their support of Japanese Canadians during the postwar period of discriminatory injustice? If so, Sedai would love to hear from you! All inquiries regarding this history, as well as regarding interviews, can be directed to Elizabeth Fujita, Sedai Project Coordinator, at elizabeth.fujita@jccc.on.ca or 416 441 2345 ext 303.

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