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Remembrance Day 2021

Each year, on November 11, we remember all who have given their time and lives in service to Canada’s military. We remember those who served in WW1, WW2, the Korean Conflict, the War in Afghanistan and various peacekeeping missions. At the JCCC, we specifically remember those Japanese Canadians who have served Canada, even during times when they were not wanted or appreciated.

 

Sedai Features: Tomi-Taro (Tom) Nishio 
 


Sedai: Tomi . 2012-292. March 31, 2009.

In this clip, Tomi-Taro (Tom) Nishio recounts his time as part of the British Intelligence Agency in India during WWII. He explains the importance of Japanese Canadian nisei like himself volunteered to join the Canadian Armed Forces during WWII, illuminating the anxieties faced by Japanese Canadians after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

 


 

Timothy Takasaki is a Grade 9 student. He is a long time volunteer at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre and Bayview United Church. This rendition of O Canada by Timothy is in dedication to Remembrance Day 2021.

 


"I've done my last duty to my comrades. They are gone but not forgotten."
(Masumi Mitsui, 1985)

With Remembrance Day only weeks away, we would like to take a moment to commemorate members of the armed forces, specifically the Japanese Canadian veterans. In Stanley Park, Vancouver, the Japanese Canadian War Memorial stands paying tribute to all Japanese Canadians who have served Canada during times of need. The monument was erected in 1920 to remember 222 Japanese Canadians who fought for Canada during WWI.

 

WWI Japanese Canadian War Memorial Plate

Plaque at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial, Vancouver, B.C. Image from the City of Vancouver, https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/monuments-and-sculptures.aspx.  

 



A lit Japanese lantern stands at the top of the monument, but it was extinguished for over four decades after the bombing of Pearl Harbour and Japanese Canadians were declared enemy aliens of Canada. It was not until 1985 that the lantern was relit in a ceremony by the last surviving WWI veteran Masumi Mitsui. In a photograph taken by Tamio Wakayama during the ceremony, Mitsui at the age of 98, stood tall in full military solute. After the ceremony, Mitsui aptly said in an interview, "I've done my last duty to my comrades. They are gone but not forgotten." (Dick, 2010, p. 447).

 

Japanese Lantern - Remembrance Day Ceremony poster

Remembrance Day Ceremony Program, 1991. JCCC Original Military Collection. 2005.01.01.50

 

During WWII, niseis continue to enlist in the army to fight for Canada. Despite the hurdles, 119 nisei men were enlisted as translators in the Canadian Intelligence Corps. After the war, most continued to serve throughout Asia as translators within the War Crimes Investigation Force and also in Japan during the American Occupation.

Since 1920, beautiful trees were planted in the vicinity of the memorial. While most of us were unable to visit the memorial last spring when the cherry blossom was blooming. As the petals fall with the short live bloom, one can only imagine the beauty and contemplate the symbolisms behind the cherry blossoms and the memorial.

 


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