Nana Nishimura's interview was conducted on December 8, 2011 by Lisa Uyeda.
Nanako ‘Nana’ Nishimura, born in Vancouver, BC on November 19, 1937, begins this interview by recounting her early childhood living in Vancouver with her mother and father, Tomiko ‘Tomi’ (Maeda) Nishimura and Shoichi Nishimura. She talks about her family history, including the fact that her mother was born in Japan, while her father was born in British Columbia but was later educated in Japan. She describes her parents’ marriage, and her mother’s family in Japan. She shares stories about visiting family in Japan. Nana then talks about her mother’s educational background, language skills, and her interest in Japanese literature, the arts, church, and community work, including work at the JCCC. She also talks about her mother and father’s employment in a fur factory in the Spadina-area of Toronto, and discusses her mother’s retirement and her father’s decision to switch careers to work at the Canadian Pacific Railway roundhouse station in downtown Toronto.
Nana goes on to discuss her family’s relocation to the community of Grand Forks, BC, which happened in 1944 or 1945. Nana reminisces about life in Grand Forks. She talks about her interactions with other Japanese families in Grand Forks, as well the Doukhobor community that lived in the area. Nana begins to talk about her family’s relocation to Toronto in 1948, where she finished public school, attended high school, and then attended the University of Toronto. Nana then backtracks to discuss her and her parents’ language skills, and to share more stories about growing up in Grand Forks.
Nana returns to describing her family’s journey by train to Toronto. She talks about the schools she attended in Toronto, and her father’s work at the CPR. Nana talks about the Japanese families she met in Toronto, and describes the Japanese Canadian community in Toronto, as well as her involvement with community activities. Nana talks about her studies and recreational activities in high school and university. She recounts her summer job history, which included working in a doll factory, picking crops on a Japanese farm, working as a nurses’ assistant, and working for the Royal Air Force. Nana talks about graduating from U of T and completing a teacher training course. She then talks about her extensive domestic and international travel experiences. She talks about her careers as a teacher of deaf students at the Toronto School Board, and her retirement in 1994. Nana talks about the Japanese traditions that her friends and family keep alive, which prominently feature food. She recollects memories of the events she participated in at the JCCC, and briefly discusses her mother’s reaction to Redress. Nana concludes by talking about her greatest life achievements.
A subsequent interview occurred on April 30, 2014, which was conducted by Elizabeth Fujita Kwan. In this interview, Elizabeth asks Nana about her interactions with the Jewish community, her mother's work history, and Nana's work history.
Nana Nishimura passed away on July 6, 2018.
Nana Nishimura, interview by Elizabeth Fujita Kwan, April 30, 2014, 2011.342, Sedai: The Japanese Canadian Legacy Project Collection, Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.