Vivian Rygnestad, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 27 August 2017 (1 of 2)

Vivian Rygnestad, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 27 August 2017 (1 of 2)

Abstract
Vivian shares stories of her family, from her grandparents on both sides immigrating to Canada, to her parents growing up in Vancouver, and her own childhood in Blind Bay, Notch Hill, and Kamloops, BC. Vivian's family moved to Vancouver and she attended UBC, and then spent some years in Norway before returning to Canada to begin her teaching career. She reflects on her lifelong love of education and academia, and how this is connected to her involvement with the Landscapes of Injustice community council. Through Landscapes of Injustice, Vivian discovered that her father, Tadao Wakabayashi, was part of a legal test case against the property sale in the 1940s, which is now a point of pride for her and is consistent with her memories of his values and way of being.
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Rebeca Salas (RS)
So, my name is Rebeca Salas, I'm here with Vivian Rygnestad, and we are in Richmond, on August 27, 2017. And we're here to record her oral history for the Landscapes of Injustice project. And so, just before we turned on the recorder right then we talked about how we wanted to start and, we had an interesting conversation, about your name, and how you. . . you know, have had situations in which you. . . choose to share certain names and, and what comes along with that so, why don't we start with that? and then we can also learn a little bit about your, your family and the context of, of your family. Okay, so. I'll let you - sorry -
Vivian Rygnestad (VR)
That's interesting. Legally, my name is: Vivian, my Japanese middle name is Fumiko, so I'm Vivian Fumiko Rygnestad. Um, I was known, before I married, as Vivian Fumiko Wakabayashi. When I, became involved in the Japanese Canadian community in, in Landscapes of Injustice, in human rights and social justice, Pause. I realized that often by identifying as Vivian Rygnestad, there were questions as to, who is she, that doesn't sound very Japanese. Pause. I also realized about the same time, when my mother was in Nikkei Home, that . . . when people talk to me there and, and everyone at Nikkei Home is so friendly, and they would say, you know . . . they would ask me what is your name? And . . . and I realized they didn't want to know really that my name was Vivian, they didn't want to know my name was Rygnestad, but if I said, Wakabayashi, ah! then all the connections start, because . . . the Japanese Canadian community is so small that there are always connections, so, Wakabayashi. So there were times when I would identify as Vivian Wakabayashi Rygnestad, which is a real mouthful. So then I thought . . . well, there's nothing wrong with my legal name Vivian Rygnestad, but . . . but I wasn't sure. And then . . . a, a funny story, because I was at my gym and there was some, there was a, a woman there at the front desk, a very nice person . . . and she knew who I was right away, and I said, how do you know my name? and she said, “Well, I know your name is Vivian,” and there's another Vivian, “but I know you're the one” - and she got a bit embarrassed Laughs. - and she looked at me and she said, “you're the one with the, the, the . . . weird last name.” Laughs. “And, and the last name that, doesn't match your face.” Laughs. And so . . . we laughed about it. And then I was talking to . . . a friend, a couple of days ago, and I thought, hm, maybe I'll just go around within the Japanese Canadian community as, hi, I'm Vivian Rygnestad, um . . . I'm the one with the weird last name, it's Norwegian by the way, I'm the one with the weird last name that doesn't match my face! Rebeca laughs. So will I use Wakabayashi? No, I think I'll stick with Rygnestad. Rebeca laughs. Now. Um . . . with that start . . . could I start by just talking about my grandparents?
RS
Yes, please do.
VR
My grandfather, um, my mother's father, was uh, Tomoaki, Kobayashi. He was from the . . . Tottori-ken area on the west coast of Japan. And my understanding is that the, Kobayashi family owned a lot of land, they were . . . quite well known and they had people, I think they're called sharecroppers, who would . . . live on the land? A famine hit, and, um, times were tough . . . and so my, my grandfather's parents apparently gave away a lot of land to the families to say, we can't pay you but we can give you land of your own. My grandfather then with um, a few other men from their, their village, went on a little fishing boat, or a little boat, and went along the coast to look for work. My grandfather left behind a wife and a little, new born baby girl. And he said to my grandmother, I'll let you know where we find work and you can come and join me. Well they ended up all the way . . . I think outside of Tokyo, Yokohama maybe? And, they saw, a sign that said there was a ship going to America. And . . . they got quite excited, because of course you go to America to get really rich. And that's where everything is gold. So he contacted my grandmother to say, I'm going to America, when I get settled, I'll send for you. On the way, they had to stop in Hawaii, because at that point, that was 1906, 1907, and . . . they had to stop, because America wasn't allowing in any more ships from Japan. So he ended up working on the sugar cane fields in Hawaii for about nine or ten months. And then, he and his friends discovered there was a ship going to Canada. To Victoria, in Canada. And . . . they looked on a map, and, they thought, whoa, if you look on a map, Victoria, Canada, Vancouver, Canada, is just like half an inch away from America. So they, so they got QUITE excited, and thought, well, we'll just go to Canada and we'll walk to the United States. And that's how he ended up in Victoria. And, came here, and did farming, and some, um . . . enjoyed himself. He never did go to the States.
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VR
My father's father . . . w-is from Shiga-ken, and, he came with his family. I mean, my father's father came on his own. He was a businessman. And he, he fished for a while, and then, he . . . no I'm all confused. My mother's father came in, 1907, yeah. My father's father came in 1897. And uh . . . and then they moved to the Powell Street area where my father was born. And, and my father Chiyo, Chiyo, uh, Wakabayashi, had a tofu making business, and they also had a small little grocery store. And they had a house near the PNE on McGill Street. So . . . so that's the beginnings for my parents. And my father grew up in the Powell Street area, he was playing baseball, he liked to think that he was going to be on the Asahi team at some point. He . . . um, used to deliver . . . tofu for my, my grandparents. And, he . . . graduated from Strathcona, school, and, was studying accounting. My mother, grew up in, she was born in Langley, and. Then they moved to . . . uh, Vancouver, to the Southlands area, and then to the Kitsilano area. And my father uh, my grandfather was farming. My mother went to . . . school, Kitsilano High School, she she was there, um, grad-she didn't graduate, she had to leave in grade ten because . . . times were tough, and the money was needed. So my mother grew up in Kits, my father grew up in uh . . . the Powell Street area. T-there's a family . . . um, story that is really quite funny where my father, would come to, um . . . visit my mother, but he didn't want her to know that he couldn't always afford streetcar fare, so he'd ride his bicycle. And my mother had . . . I think five younger brothers. And uh, when they saw my father coming on his bicycle . . . they would look to see where he would hide it because he wanted to hide it from my mother. And they would move his bicycle. And, they would move it, while my father was in the house visiting my mother. And, Laughs. and at the end of the, visit, they would, peek out the window and laugh as my father frantically searched the neighbourhood looking for his bike! Both laugh. And in fact, my mother didn't know that story until, oh gosh, about . . . fifteen years ago. From her two brothers, and they were all well into their eighties Laughs. and seventies at that point so here were two brothers . . . confessing to what they did, Rebeca laughs. -and my mother in her eighties saying, you did what? Laughs. And so that was good. Um . . . World War II, the racism, the, uh . . . tension . . . my mother, tells a story of being a very happy Vancouver girl. She was, working in a sawmill on the False Creek lands . . . she was happy, she had a lot of friends, uh . . . she, said when the, curfew, and the registration all came about, in many ways she said, we didn't see the racism, she, she never really met it, and she just thought, well this is odd but, you just deal with it. Pause. Until one day when my mother and two friends were getting off the bus downtown because they were going to see a movie. And she said we were happy, we were laughing and having a good time, because we were going to have a movie and she said as she was getting off the bus, there were three middle-aged Caucasian ladies, white ladies, waiting to get on the bus. And as soon as my mother and her friends got off, these three, she, she said well-dressed, nice-looking women . . . started screaming and yelling at them. Dirty Japs, here are the dirty Japs. Um, you know. Go back to where you belong. And my mother said she remembers being, angry and saying, I am where I belong, I, I was born here. And all of a sudden one of the women spat. And the spit hit my mother in her cheek, and my mother said, she, she stood there absolutely stunned. And it was at that moment when she realized, that there are people who hated her simply for her ancestry. And . . . that. Changed a lot of things.
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VR
When the orders came for . . . incarceration, my . . . my mother's father was sent off to road camp, because in the beginning it was, a promise that if the men would leave, then the women and children would be fine. He was off to road camp . . . um . . . he just came wandering back one day. In the, and then . . . my mother and her mother and, sisters and younger brothers all ended up in Hastings Park in the horse barns. They were there . . . then my, mother's family, had friends, who . . . said that there was a man, called Mr. Coy, who was setting up a sawmill in the Blind Bay area, Shuswap Lake? And he, had asked for, three four families to come up, men to come up to help run the sawmill. Now my uncle Jack, my mother's brother, was very gifted mechanically and, and in those days it was considered technology I guess. So he . . . actually converted a steam engine, they converted a steam engine, to . . . to use to run the sawmill. So these families were all, um . . . sent to a self-supporting camp. In Blind Bay, and . . . um, there was a Tasaka family, the Kobayashi family, the Wakabayashi family, and I can't remember the other name, I'll have to add to it later. But, they went up and there was a fishing camp that they were allowed to stay in for one month. And, so when the sawmill got going, the, the men, the families were paid with, lumber that they milled. But of course what happens is when you have green lumber and you build a house with it, it shrinks. But that, that's what they worked at. And, um . . . they never got paid because they were getting this wood to build their houses and they built the houses. Covered it with tarpaper, the windows were plastic, but they actually had a door. Then one day . . . Mr. Coy disappeared. He just . . . disappeared. And . . . nobody knew where he was, where he went to . . . uh, was he coming back, they didn't know what they were supposed to do. Pause. To shorten that story, my father and a couple of other men went to Kamloops, which was the nearest place with a court. To say . . . we need to find Mr. Coy, he owes us money. And, um . . . they spoke to a judge, they were actually in court, they spoke to a judge. But their case was thrown out because, Mr. Coy, they were told, had no assets. All his assets had been transferred to his wife, therefore technically, he had no assets. So . . . the families left, some went into, uh, uh . . . camps. My mother's immediate family, um, her uncle, my uncle, her brother, had been known as being a very gifted uh, ham radio operator and very gifted, that way so he was offered a job in Montreal. Clears throat. So. The rest of the family all went to Montreal, and they worked there. But my mother and father, chose to stay in . . . Blind Bay, uh, I think . . . part of my father's family went to Kamloops and some went into camps. Coughs. excuse me. Um . . . they chose to stay because my father had a job, now, here's my father, a city boy who . . . had been studying to be an accountant, he did drive a truck a bit to deliver tofu and things like that. Clears throat. Um . . . but he became a logger. And he rode horses. It was, where they were in Blind Bay they had to take a boat in, up, um . . . into one of the arms, and they would, use horses to bring the logs down to the water. So we used to joke about my father and horses and logging and things like that. And then . . . on the weekends they were allowed to come back to Blind Bay and my mother said, a couple of times, there were such bad storms on the water that uh, he couldn't come back. So, one time my father came back and he was covered in, fleas. Because they had sought shelter in a, in a cabin they knew that there was this cabin and so they all headed to this cabin, for safety. And they stayed there overnight, and they found a mattress, and it was, you know, of straw and everything and just slept there overnight, but of course when they came back, they didn't realize that they were covered in fleas and my mother was going, oh my gosh. Laughs and coughs.
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VR
Life was . . . interesting in Blind Bay, because, we didn't realize until much later, but . . . the . . . most of the residents of Blind Bay were British. So . . . when these, they were called “Japanese families,” when they arrived in Blind Bay, they were not welcome. In fact, there were signs outside of Salmon Arm, the nearest, town, to say no Japs allowed, Japs go home. My parents and the other families couldn't even buy groceries. Because there was, nobody would, there was nowhere to buy groceries. And . . . so my father and another man went to the one grocery store that was in Blind Bay and it was run by, um, a teacher, a former teacher called Mrs. McArthur. And she was sort of um . . . one of the McArthur families of Blind Bay, well known . . . well respected. And she talked to the other people in the community, Mrs. McArthur, and said, look, these families, they're Canadian. They are not here by choice. They need to live. We need to support them, we need to help them. Generally speaking the fam, the, the community, sort of rallied around, and the kids were allowed to go to school. Um . . . and Mrs. McArthur sold groceries to the families. Now, when . . . all the families left except my mother and father, my parents had become good friends with um, the McArthurs, and she said, my mother said, it was, they were, she said we were treated nicely. And she thanks the McArthur family, over and over and over again. For leading the way into acceptance into the community. So she said every Saturday they would go to, Mr. and Mrs. McArthur's family, and they would play Monopoly. And, and as a thank you, my mother would usually bake cookies, or something to take, and they'd have tea, and they'd have cookies, and they'd play Monopoly. So my mother said it was nice, it was, it was a nice way to be accepted into the family and, and uh . . . and she does thank the McArthur family for that. Anyways, my mother said, life as a young bride, a city girl in a place where . . . there wasn't really much in terms of, I mean there was no electricity there was no running water, she had to go to the lake to get water to wash clothes, she washed clothes in the lake. But I . . . my mother, who is almost ninety-eight now, she was spunky, she was resilient, she was positive. She said, we just did the best we could. But my father used to joke, because . . . he Laughs. when we were kids he would take out his false teeth and he'd say, see these teeth? My own teeth wore out because your mother had to bake bread. Because she couldn't just go and buy bread all the time. And it was so hard, that my teeth got worn out, chewing the bread. Laughs. But I think, it's all part of, I, I thank my parents, and I . . . and I . . . their resilience, their positive manner, this is what's happening, we'll do the best, we can . . . um, I was born then, in '43, my mother, I was born in September, the end of September, my mother said that first winter, there were so many cracks in the wood that they used to use, paper newspaper to shove in the cracks and there was just plastic and she was so scared I would freeze to death. But she said um . . . no, I was fine, and . . . I was well looked after. And I think throughout my childhood, what I think, and, looking at the pictures we just looked through, I was happy. It was . . . again, I thank, not just my parents, but the families around, and the community in general, for . . . making sure the children had a good life. And we were looked after, and we were shielded from a lot of those things. Okay, so then . . . we . . . had to leave Blind Bay, because actually my parents, I don't know how that happened, but they were offered to buy . . . the property of, where my parents were still sort of living. And it was two hundred feet of . . . waterfrontage on Blind Bay. And they were offered it at a dollar a foot. So at two hundred dollars but my father said, it could have been two million dollars, they just didn't have the money. Pause. So they . . . needed to leave Blind Bay, and they went, more or less across the highway, the main highway? across Sorrento into a small place called, called Notch Hill. Because they found a place, that somebody would rent to them. And the . . . it was the only place that had, a, a place that would take - the, the only people that would take in somebody that was, Japanese Canadian. It was a chicken coop. And . . . my mother said she remembers crying when she saw, where they were going to live. It was a chicken coop and it hadn't been cleaned. No windows, and a door. And she said, she and my father went to the grocery store and bought, bleach or, ammonia or lye or something like that and just scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. And she said we lived in there just for, she thinks . . . it was less than two weeks. And there was a, man called Mr. Henry Cod, who lived in Notch Hill, he owned property, he heard about, the f-our family. And he came to see my parents to say, I have a house that you could live in, you're welcome to stay there. So we moved into a, a lovely log house. Um, I have fond memories of, growing up there, you know for a few years anyways. Mr. Cod lived across the valley, but his, um, sister . . . her name was, um, Mrs. Walters, and Mr. Blackman, her husband, they lived just down the little bit of a, meadow, up a little bit of a hill from us. And they looked after us, so then, we lived there in Notch Hill. HAPPY, happy.
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VR
There were meadows . . . um, Mrs. Walters, Mr. Blackman's, sons and daughter used to take me horseback riding, bareback . . . we got, uh, fresh milk, unpasteurized, but fresh milk from their cows. They had a vegetable garden when we first moved there, and we got vegetables from them. My parents and us, we used to visit with them . . . and, they were, certainly very, very good to us, and to this day! I'm still in touch with one of the sons. One of the surviving sons, and uh . . . it's, it's lovely. In fact, when . . . we took my mother to visit there, the last time . . . oh gosh, about, fifteen years ago, ten years ago? Keith Walters, who is a lovely lovely man, he - his wife answered the door, and she said, Keith Keith come out, Aki is here. And he came out, and he would have been a teenager, right, when uh . . . when we lived there, and he came out, and this . . . grizzled man, who was so lovely and . . . he came out and he hugged my mother and the tears were pouring down his cheeks, my mother's cheeks, everybody. And he kept saying, Aki, Aki, I remember you. I remember your family. Thank you for coming to visit, and it was, it was quite the moment. The - the bonds between our families. Pause. It was nice. We lived in that log house, and um . . . I went to school, in Notch Hill, it was a one-room school house. Walked one mile, it was actually a mile. And I would, and I went to that school and, it was . . . it was great, it was the first two years were, were wonderful, we had Christmas concerts. The community was good. And then, um . . . the, when I was in grade three, another teacher came, and there were Christmas concerts, and. It was a night that, for me it was a great place. I asked my mother, too, what was it like to live there? And she said it was nice. We were well looked after, the community was good. There was one other Japanese Canadian family. The Fujikawa family, who . . . Sound of a dog panting. we're still in touch with, um . . . great family. Oh. Tape is paused.
RS
Okay. Go ahead. Pause. So we . . . yeah . . .
VR
School was good. Um, I liked living there, I have. I have, good memories. I think before that . . . my memories are, stories that I've been told, but, uh, certainly, when we moved there I was probably about . . . five years old. And so, I do have memories of living there. I have memories of um . . . ah. Good memories. Ah, of the people there, of, school concerts, of my teachers . . . and, being picked up Laughs. by the bus that used to run regularly from Salmon Arm to Kamloops, and he would give me a free ride . . . it was, not every day but uh, it was good, it was a good life, and uh, the families were very good. In fact, the Walters family . . . my mother and um, my parents and I give, you know, many thanks to the family there for looking after us and still being in touch with us. And Mr. Henry Cod, who has passed away, Mrs. Walters, Mr. Blackman, they've all passed away, but they were very good to my family. Unfortunately, that house burned. In um, December 1951. My father was at work, my mother had just gone, next door, to . . . the Walters' to get some milk, my sisters and I were, my sisters and I were, listening to the radio because in those days, there was a . . . a church in Kamloops run by Mr. Gaglardi, and his wife, and his wife used to have a radio program for, it's like Sunday school for children. And it was called, “Your Friend Aunt Jenny.” Laughs. And so it was like going to Sunday school. And we were listening to it, when, when the house burnt. And, and, my sisters and I got out and we . . . ran down the hill through the snow to, our neighbours', and . . . that was difficult. Now . . . my mother said, that's when the community rallied around, and . . . contributed, bedding, clothes . . . everything, dishes. And . . . Mrs. Walters and Mr. Blackman's, son Keith, who . . . I still see now, he was building himself a cabin. And it was . . . it was, mostly finished, so . . . we were allowed to live in there, and I can remember living in there. And then . . . that was December '51 and then . . . in '52, at Easter time, we moved to Kamloops. Where, we had relatives, and, we lived there. In '52 . . . in North Kamloops, my father . . . oh.
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VR
And, there was a family, in, in Kamloops called um, oh, gosh . . . Shur Singh was the son, I can't remember the, his father's name, but there was a man called Mr. Singh, who owned, a couple of sawmills, and owned a lot of farmland. And he was very good to all the Japanese Canadian families that ended up in Kamloops. His son, Shur Singh, and then, they had . . . children, who are my age and a little bit older, they, they looked after the Japanese Canadian families. So . . . when he found out that my father had been studying accounting he gave my father a job doing the books for . . . uh, his sawmills. Which was good. And, so we lived there, we . . . were provided with housing . . . and, then we eventually bought a little house, in North Kamloops, a tiny little house . . . but had a, a good life, my father . . . okay backtrack . . . I think, the lesson that I learned as, a child who was born during World War II, during the incarceration time . . . I, I realized, what my parents had been teaching, my sisters and I, because when I joined the Redress group, um, in the '80s, 1980s, and, we used to meet at Roy Miki's house. And I remember going there. The first couple of times, and . . . it was the first time I'd ever worked with, Japanese Canadians. It was the first time I'd ever . . . there had ever been so many of us because we had been, so dispersed out into the wider community. And . . . we, we were talking, and we all came to the realization that what our parents had said to us, over and over and over again, because our parents had been Canadian citizens. They were born in Canada. And so, for example what my father and mother used to say to me is, we need to prove that we're good Canadians. How do you PROVE that you're, a good Canadian? . . . You do that by . . . getting a good education, and being of service to your community. And in that sense, my father . . . and my mother both, they were active in the PTA in the schools, my father . . . was one of the co-founders of the Lions Club in North Kamloops, and . . . they did all kinds of things, my father actually became a school trustee? He became the, um . . . and they were active in the PTA, they were always doing things. Through the Lions Club, my father and mother . . . uh, said that in North Kamloops, there was no library. And children need to have a library, it's part of education. So, they convinced the um, the fire hall, the volunteer fire hall in North Kamloops, to please, you know, just have a little corner, and someone donated a couple of small bookcases, and so, twice a week, my mother would go there for two hours each time, my sisters and I would go with her, and were, there were volunteers, and we'd open up the library, for anybody that wanted to come and, borrow a book. And I used to love it, because I would just sit there and read whatever books I could. So . . . so all of that. I - and I think, back to . . . how my parents . . . not just told us that we should be, of service to our community, they showed us, how you do things like that. And I'll never forget, in . . . the mid-fifties, late fifties . . . my parents said that, we were invited to a meeting. And what it was, was my father was getting a service award. From the . . . municipality of North Kamloops. A good service award. So . . . the family was invited, so I remember it was quite the big deal because it was after dinner, we were, getting all dressed up and we were going out. So we went, and my . . . father was asked to come to the front, and my, mother and my sisters and I had to stand up and, everybody clapped, and I wasn't - I, I, I just knew this was, something very SERIOUS, but. A happy serious. And then . . . they talked about what my father had done for the community and my mother had done for the community and everybody clapped and, got a little certificate, and we sat down again and I remember, understanding the seriousness of it, but not really understanding the whole implications of it. Of - being of service to your community and being Japanese Canadian and, how when we moved into that neighbourhood . . . I didn't know.
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00:30:05.000
VR
Now, do you see . . . the, grandfather, clock, sort of sitting there on the mantel? That's there - it doesn't work, and it hasn't worked for years - apparently when we moved to North Kamloops into . . . our first house, Pause. there were people in that neighbourhood who were quite upset. That, that we were moving in. Because we were, a Japanese family. Pause. I didn't know. I didn't know until I was, much much older. But I do remember my father and mother again saying . . . you know, this is Mr. So-and-so, there, and Mrs., they live here and they live there, and. And on the corner there's a, a nice . . . man and wife, their name is Mr. and Mrs. Terry and they're very very nice, and uh . . . and, so, just be polite, and when you see somebody you say hello and things like that. So . . . I do know that Mr. and Mrs. Terry were elderly, and, my father would often go over there and help them with yard work or help them with their car and things like that. And every so often, my . . . mother would give us . . . um, cookies or something to take over, or . . . some fruit, if we had a whole lot of fruit, or something. And, we'd take it over there and, we, they were always very . . . polite to us. One day my - Mr. Terry passed away. And my father was - asked by Mrs. Terry to come to the house. And she GAVE him, that mantel clock that you see there. It had been a wedding present, that they had received. And my . . . father apparently said, why are you giving us this clock? and Mrs. Terry said to my father, every time you came over, you always looked at the clock and commented on the clock and, you really liked it and so, we decided we'd like you to have it. And I remember, my father saying, you know, why, why did you like the clock? Well he said, because everybody who was rich had a great big grandfather clock. Or a mantel clock, because then you had a fireplace to put the, the clock onto. So . . . I like to think that, my parents through example . . . taught us how to behave, how to be . . . of service, and and how to, make friends. But shielded us as, as to, why. It was so important. And shielded us from people who might have been . . . I don't know, against the Japanese. I never did find out exactly WHO was against but, obviously there were people in the neighbourhood. But I never felt that. I never felt that sting or anything like that. And so . . . yeah. So we lived in Kamloops and then . . . I realized, in later years, that, as part of the, Vivian's going to go to university, because . . . um . . . yeah . . . it was always a case of, “and when you go to university, when you go” - I had no idea what university was. I just envisioned it as this, very big school. But I just knew I was, going to go to university. So . . . when I finished grade eleven, we moved from Kamloops, we moved to Vancouver. And my father, was transferred by the company he was working for, they, well they didn't transfer him within the same company. They got him another job here. And we moved to Vancouver. Lived near Kits Beach, a block from Kits Beach, for, um . . . a year and a half? Two years, I think? And then we moved in to a house um . . . near Macdonald. Thirteenth. And . . . yeah. And it was, it was good. And then that started our Vancouver chapter of our life, and. I went to university, my mother was working . . . my father was working, my sisters, were at Kits . . . it was, it was a bigger world, that we were in. Um . . . yeah. And my father was active in the JCCA, my mother was . . . in later years, they, for years they would, you know the Bulletin uh, magazine? When it was, whenever it was ready to be mailed out, my mother and father would go down to the office and, they would be part of the group that helped to bundle them all up to be mailed out and things like that. So . . . it was good. I, you know I'm sort of, wondering where to go from here. Laughs.
RS
Hm. We can continue with um . . . perhaps, um . . . you know, your life moving forward, and then . . . I have been taking notes, uh . . . of some of the stories that you've uh, shared with me, so. We can always, come back to those and. . .
VR
Sure.
RS
-and sort of revisit, but. Um . . . yeah, you have a, I think a lot more to tell about your own life and, moving forward, getting, married, you know, having children, all of these other -
VR
Okay.
RS
-events, um. I think to keep - moving forward in time.
00:34:54.000
00:34:54.000
VR
I went to . . . UBC. Um, took my teacher training, loved it. Um . . . then, graduated. And . . . yeah. Four years at UBC, got my degree, graduated, some friends and I decided we were going to, Europe to travel, and I had been working every summer as a playground supervisor. And I loved it. And, and - went to Europe, um . . . went, I ended up in Norway, with um, a friend, and . . . met my, now husband. Well, he's passed away, unfortunately. He passed away in 2013. But, I - when I was working, I got a job at um, Christian Michelson's institute. It was a research institute that did all, all their work for the United Nations, so their work was being done in English, because I didn't know Norwegian. So my job was, just to do filing and, just, odd jobs, and then . . . a, a Scottish professor was coming to work at the, at the . . . research institute so they asked if I would do the typing for him. Which was, great except Norwegian keyboards are different. They have, three extra letters in their alphabet, and they're where our punctuation marks are. And so it Laughs. took me a while to get used to that! And I was living in a student dorm and that's where I met my husband Bjorn. And, and I made uh, some REALLY good friends, I'm still really really good friends with them. In the beginning I was homestaying with a family that, um . . . that was friends with somebody that was here in Vancouver, and they recommended that I stay, with this family in Bergen, in Norway, so that's where I was. While I was working, and then I moved into a student dorm. And that was a great life. And then my husband and I decided - well, my, husband to be and I, we decided we want to be married. And in those days, you didn't live together. You . . . got married, and so. We got married. Laughs. And - and uh . . . and then, he had to do his military duty before he was allowed to leave the country. And then, because I needed to teach to get my permanent certification, we came back here and he got a job, we . . . I started, teaching in Surrey, did my whole career as a teacher, and uh . . . vice principal and principal was in Surrey, I, I loved it . . . we, have, two daughters, two lovely daughters . . . who . . . grew up. Uh, every other summer we would go to Norway. With the, with our daughters. And, they got to know their grand - they, grandmother, grandfather, aunts uncles cousins and, even their great-grandparents, which was nice. There is a place in Norway called Rygnestad it's the . . . it's the original family farm for the Rygnestad family, if you look on a map or just Google Rygnestad, it'll, show you that spot. So we, we went there every other summer and visited, this is where the - you know, the ancestors lived from the 1400s. And . . . their, um . . . my husband's grandfather was the last baby to be born at that farm. So, lots and lots of history and, and I guess for me because I'd always been interested in history, and my husband and his family, they're all history buffs and, there was SO much history, that it was FASCINATING and, and I'm glad to this day, that we, you know, we learned the history but we - we KNOW all the, Norwegian family. At the same time, because we lived nearby to my parents . . . our daughters grew up being baby-sat by Grandma. When I was teaching, and . . . Grandma and Grandpa were . . . wonderful. And so, there were, some, certainly some Japanese-y sort of things that, and the food certainly, that my daughters were lucky to have. And - and, our daughters say to this day that they, they learned . . . not Japanese so much, but Japanese Canadian, they went to, the bazaars and, and they learned this and they learned that, and there were relatives that came to visit . . . and it was uh, it was a, good life, it was, it was wonderful. My father passed away in . . . my, my youngest sister passed away . . . in 1994? she was, killed unfortunately in an accident and that was a. That was a shock to everybody. We're still in touch with her husband, he's still very much a part of our family. Um . . . my father, died of, um, died . . . he had Alzheimer's, it was very sad, he died in 1996. And, when he . . . before he, passed away, our older daughter was pregnant and, and my father kept saying, when is the baby going to be born? I'm waiting, you know, I'm waiting, you know, and even with his Alzheimer's, every time he saw my daughter, he would know, there was a baby coming, there was a baby coming. Pause. And he would pat her stomach and say, I'm waiting for the baby you know, I'm waiting. Well, his first great-grandchild was born, January 1996. And, he passed away, in March 1996. But, when . . . his first great-grandchild was, she was, three weeks old, four weeks old? . . . We all met, and, met with, my father, he was in a home. And so - he was brought down and, and the baby was there and everything and it was, it was very touching because, the nurse brought him, out in wheelchair and said, he's not doing very well today, I'm not sure . . . how cognizant he's going to be today. Because there were moments when he was fine.
00:40:12.000
00:40:12.000
VR
So . . . we all, we're all sitting there, and . . . and, our daughter Janet said, Grandpa, this is Natasha, she's . . . she's your, she's your great-granddaughter, you were waiting for Natasha, here she is and, just then, as if on cue, Natasha started to make baby noises. And . . . my father's eyes just lit up. And he held out his arms. Oh my gosh. He held out his arms, and so. We placed the baby in his arms, and he was holding her and holding her, and he was looking at her and looking at her. And then his arms got tired, so he'd hold his arms out again and then. But it was interesting too because, the whole time that he was holding her when he wasn't looking at, his great-granddaughter . . . he would search, the people there, he look - he was looking for my mother. And when he met - when he saw her eyes, and she would smile at him, he'd relax. Pause. And then he'd hold out his arms again as if to say, you know can I hold her again, and then, at one point . . . she started fussing, and, um, my father started going. Makes a swishing noise. Oh, we all, were in tears, because that's what he used to do to us. To, you know, say, hello hello, wake up you know, but you know. And that's what, you know, and he did that, and then she would calm down. And it was, very very touching, it was amazing and, and, he - and he kept smiling, and and just - this was his granddaughter. At the end of that visit, he . . . deteriorated quickly. And, it was, what, about six weeks later when he passed away. But um . . . yeah. That was my father. My . . . he was a wonderful, wonderful man. Now, my mother, who is still living, she's almost ninety-eight, she, she's amazing! She's . . . she's got a sense of humour, she . . . she keeps up on things, she's curious about life, and, we always joke, because my mother ALWAYS loved to eat, and she still does. She doesn't eat very quickly but she eats. And, and. At the home where she's at, the care aides and the nurses all say, she's the last one. And she'll sit there and she'll eat. She'll eat everything. But it takes her a while, but she'll eat. And uh . . . and she . . . so there's, our gran, um, Natasha our . . . uh, my mother's great-granddaughter . . . and then, little Kai was born. Now Kai was born in, 2011. The interesting thing is, is . . . my husband . . . Bjorn, always used to say from the time Leesbet our younger daughter got married to David . . . “they're going to have a boy. They're going to have a boy” and uh . . . we just thought okay. So, they waited a long long time. But suddenly along came Kai, and. He was a little boy. So, that's my family, I've got two daughters, a son-in-law, um . . . and, two grandchildren. I like to joke and say, one was learning to walk the same time the other one's learning to ride. Rebeca laughs. And, and I retired in 2010, I retired, um, I was a principal . . . before that, for, while I was a teacher I used to do workshops for the um . . . BCTF. And, it was in uh . . . multicultural, multiculturalism was the big word. And, and. So this was spreading the word of inclusivity and multiculturalism. And I remember at one point thinking . . . this is a re, service, this is service to the kids, it's service to the, teaching profession . . . and, and all along I had, I had said to myself, when I retire I'll get more involved in the Japanese Canadian community like my parents. My grand, my . . . my aunts and uncles in Toronto, and, here, they were all . . . very very active in the Japanese Canadian community. But anyways, um, I did those, workshops, and then, as a principal I also did workshops in uh . . . mentoring, and, professional development, and things like that. So for me, that, concept of service is always there. For me . . . when I retired and I, started to become active in the Japanese Canadian community, it took a while to sort of figure out where do I fit in, where, where do I want to be, and, what is it exactly that I want to do. And certainly social justice was, was the big overriding factor. But at the same time . . . in the back of my mind, I'd always wanted to do a PhD. And certainly my father, my father especially, “when are you going to do your PhD? When are you going to go to university again?” Laughs. And I always thought, okay, I'll retire and I'll work on it then.
00:45:00.000
00:45:00.000
VR
And, and I remember, just before I retired, the superintendant of my district . . . was talking to me and he said, Vivian, what are you going to do, when you retire? And I said, I've always wanted to do a PhD and he said, Why? And . . . it's one of those answers you don't think of, beforehand, and then it comes out of your mouth and then you go, oh that was pretty good! And I said . . . why? I haven't finished learning. There's SO much more I want to learn, and to investigate and do, there's certain areas I really want to know more about. And . . . plus the fact I love academia, I love . . . universities. And he said - fateful words, he said to me, you don't have to do a PhD. You really want to jump through all those hoops? Laughs. And I remember thinking, ooh, no, I don't know, I never thought of that. He said, use your influence. And at that time I thought, that sounded good. But . . . since that time, I . . . have really come to, understand and believe . . . in the power of influence. Influence meaning, sometimes it's just influence, one person at a time. Sometimes it could be just, something you say in a conversation, without really, realizing the impact it's going to have. There's intent and there's impact, right? But sometimes, you don't really intend it, but there is an impact. So . . . for me I guess it's that whole thing of influence. And . . . it's that idea that, many teachers and many principals say, you know well I can't do another job I, I don't know what else to do, I've just been a teacher, I've just been a principal, what else can I do? And I began to realize . . . that . . . we may not be able to do specific jobs, but . . . we have skills. When you've been a teacher for years, and a principal for years, you develop skills, you develop understanding. You develop, knowledge of, people, you develop knowledge of kids, how do you work with them. I also, believe that . . . as a teacher . . . and I've talked a lot of, a, a lot of my friends are retired principals and teachers and . . . that . . . as a teacher, and certainly as a principal too, when you meet someone . . . no one's perfect. And people will say well I can't do this I can't do that. That's okay. I think, because, you know, more than forty years of being a teacher and a principal and things like that . . . you, immediately see that where . . . you can help, where you could help someone, learn, where you could help someone develop, and things like that. So in other words you see the cracks and you say, eh! There are cracks but that's okay! You know. We can work around that! And. And things like that, so you develop this sort of positive, um . . . feeling about everybody. And . . . you learn how to work with people. So, for, back to influence, I remember . . . no I don't remember, I, I must have said, you know this, thing about influence, use your influence, use your influence. Because one of the things about being a retired principal is, and I belong to the BC Retired Principals Vice Principals Association, we've over, seven hundred members. And I'm, now the past president, I was president up until, a year ago. And I remember . . . one of our . . . goals is to, support the principals and vice principals who are, in the schools, who are active in the field. And, and . . . so I remember saying, influence, we know where our influence is, we may not be in schools anymore. But there are seven hundred plus people out there in this world, having conversations with people. And, inevitably, there's a conversation about, so what's happening in schools today? I don't understand, you know, blah blah blah. Why are they, complaining about this and what's, what's the problem here, and what's happening . . . and as retired, principals, vice principals . . . if we're, up to date, and we understand . . . we can explain. Well this is what's happening, and this is what's happening and this is what's happening in the schools and this is how the procedure works. Things like that, because it's all too easy to say oh, I don't know, twenty years ago when I was a principal, we didn't have any problem. Which is . . . not true. But, it's that understanding of being able to continue on the work, so influence again? My last, um, meeting . . . the principals and vice principals of BC, they meet. Three times a year, and it's called chapter council. And there are representatives from every district that meet. And so my last meeting as the um, president of the retired principals' group. It was nice because there was a, an award given . . . these are annual awards that are given to, principals and vice principals, and. And community people. So there was a, a retired principal and . . . I think they were both retired principals. And they, had retired, and they were living in a small town in BC. And they . . . were wondering, what shall we do? You know, we want to stay here, but what are we going to do?
00:50:01.000
00:50:01.000
VR
And . . . when they spoke in their speech, they said, they remembered Vivian saying, use your influence. So, they had always been interested in the arts. And, they got their award as community members because, using their influence, they raised money, um, from corporations and from individuals, and they would bring in, not whole orchestras, but . . . musicians, they would bring in artists, they would bring in writers. To, talk to the kids, in this small small town. And there's no other way those kids would have had the opportunity to . . . to meet those people and, and . . . interact with them. And so I thought, wow, that from me was . . . the power of influence. And I'm glad that I've been saying that. Yeah. Um . . . what else am I doing? Service to the community - Landscapes of Injustice. That came along . . . that came along, not even, a year after my husband passed away, and I'd been caring for him for, over a year and a half and. I didn't do my PhD because by the time I, sort of, you know, finished caring for him and . . . and everything, and he passed away . . . that whole Laughs. desire to do a PhD was gone. And so I, I used . . . my superin-former superintendant's advice of, use your influence, just DO. And so, I was busy. And I - I was busy, I go to the gym, at the Richmond Oval . . . four five times a week . . . um, I volunteer at the . . . um, airport, as a green coat, I LOVE that. I love it it's, you meet people from all over the world, you meet with um . . . fellow volunteers, there are . . . five hundred. Green coat volunteers. And, Laughs. many many, are retired principals and teachers. Laughs. Um . . . it, it enabled me to use the li, LI-ttle bit of Japanese that I know, it enabled me to use, the Norwegian that I'm fluent in, and the . . . and my okay French. But mainly it was just SO much fun, interacting with people from around the world, interacting with fellow green coats, and there was no homework, I'd put on a uniform, I'd go there do my shift, I'd come home, I don't have to think about it 'til I do it again. Um . . . I love that, but it's funny because . . . there's a group of us, four pri-retired principals, Laughs. who . . . are involved with helping out with workshops, now, does that surprise you? Laughs.
RS
Rebeca laughs. No.
VR
And so another . . . um, retired principal and I, we realized that, there was no sort of information binder for all these 500 volunteers, to keep up to date on, what's happening at the airport and, the questions people get asked. So . . . we developed a binder. Laughs.It took . . . oh, it took MONTHS to develop it. But we . . . with the support, and the, fantastic support from the airport, cause they're SO good to the vol, to the green coats . . . we have in that binder, information about any question you could get asked, we have the hours of operation of every store in there . . . where it is, um . . . we don't have menus for restaurants but we have all that, we have . . . any tourist-y type of question but it's all about the airport, so we developed that. And then a year ago, we um . . . updated it. So that was another few months of work. And, we did that, and then, right now we're, Laughs. updating it again. But anyways, um . . . back to being busy, I was busy. Pause. But there's more to life than just being busy. Pause. You need to be engaged, in something, and I believe that . . . everybody no matter what age, there needs to be something you love doing, you're passionate about, you're really interested in. More than just - doing, and being busy. So, Landscapes of Injustice came along, and I saw the advertisement in the um . . . Bulletin. For . . . emerging and, leaders in the community to ad-you know, apply to be part of the Community Council. And I read it and I thought oh, that's a really good idea. But did I apply? No. And I had two three people say Vivian, you should apply and I'm going, aw, yeah, no, I'm not a leader, well, uh. And it was actually, Mary and Tosh Kitagawa who said, Vivian! Have you applied? And I said, no, I, I'm not, I'm not a leader, there're TONS of people across Canada who are really really good. Well I did apply. And I sent it in, I think, I don't know, probably, the deadline was midnight and I sent it in at ten o'clock that night. Laughs. Honestly! Rebeca laughs. It was a last-minute, slap it together and send it in, and I was quite pleased to, to be accepted. And then I, went to the first Institute, because I thought, well this is exciting and, my daughter said Mum, this is all about universities, this is you.
00:55:08.000
00:55:08.000
VR
It's, it's universities, it's about Japanese Canadian dispossession . . . this is you. And uh . . . because the joke in my family is don't ever take Mum on a trip until you, check out the university because she always wants to go see the university Laughs. it's true. And uh . . . um . . . we went to the first Institute. And, and . . . I knew OF Art, I knew, Mary and Tosh, not well, but I really didn't know anybody else. And we all met at the first Institute, not really knowing, what our role was, or anything. But just hearing what was going on, and plans, and, meeting people who were just, so engaged in what they were doing, and . . . and, I was excited, and I remember . . . and then, I got - Laughs. We had to choose a chair. And it was Art, we chose, and then, later Art said, no, he couldn't take it on, he had too much, and he had done so much with the, Redress campaign. So then it was a case of, Vivian . . . somebody nominated Vivian to be the chair. And I remember thinking, oh that's easy, I just chair some meetings and, I can do that, I've, chaired lots of meetings, and I said yes, well. Little did I know that it was going to change my life! For the good. Um . . . when I came home from that first Institute, I remember . . . talking with my daughters, and . . . one of them said . . . Mum, we haven't heard you this, happy, this excited, for a couple of years. Pause. It's, it's nice to hear that, excitement back in your voice, you're . . . happy, really. What is it? And, without thinking, I said . . . my brain is happy! And it was true, and then, they said, is it because of that Landscapes Institute you went to? And I said, yeah, the people that are there are aMAZing people, professors who were like my age - Laughs. or even younger than me, young people who are students and who are RAs . . . it was exciting that THEY'RE interested in something like this, I said. I think I've found my home. Laughs. And it was good. It was really, really, good. So today, where am I? Um . . . still, totally committed to Landscapes of Injustice . . . I believe that, there have been amazing accomplishments by people, and, um, obstacles overcome, resilience . . . I love the Japanese Canadian community for the dignity and the resilience, the, um . . . humbleness, and yet, strength. Over the years, but we're scattered. We're scattered. But there have been, good things happening throughout the, timeline of Japanese Canadian history. But at the same time . . . there are stories. There are stories, and people have done work. And there are TONS of stories of our elders, their lives. Not just, where did you live - I, I - and we need to go beyond, well I moved here and then I moved to here and I moved to here. That can be corroborated easily. It occurred to me years ago that, stories I, haven't been asking, or questions I haven't been asking my, mother and father, were things like, how did you cook? How did you do laundry? What did we eat? How did you feel? You know, what happened when you this? Those are the stories that, we need to preserve. So for me . . . Landscapes . . . is taking all those stories and those, those AMAZING work done in the past by various people. And adding academic credibility. I don't think we're ever going to get this huge amount of money and the cooperation of five universities, and . . . SO many people. It's going to be a long time before that ever happens again, so. That's why I say, I am so committed, and the . . . Community Council is so committed to Landscapes because, this is the academic credibility, the RESEARCH that has come out is amazing. And the research corroborates people's stories. So it's good, my mother, when I, first told my mother, that I had joined Landscapes of Injustice, and um . . . I told her what it was all about . . . in her very quiet, in her own way . . . and, and she's so wise, and she said . . . that's good. Because now the, university professors and students, will be able to prove what we have been saying and our stories, for the past many years. I thought, right on, Mum. So for me, is Landscapes, be all and end all? No. But it's a HUGE part for academic credibility. And I like the fact, that it's bringing together.
01:00:00.000
01:00:00.000
VR
Unearthing all sorts of research . . . but it's not just that, it's the, it's the outcome, the things that are going to come out of it. So the papers, the films, the . . . stories the presentations . . . I'm hoping it'll ignite, and I'm hoping and expecting . . . it'll ignite, interest in, people, not just the general public, but . . . in the, younger generations of Japanese Canadians? And . . . most importantly it's people like you. It's, it's the . . . research assistants, the people who . . . have been working on it, and who are . . . developing skills, and developing interest, and, and are going on to . . . not necessarily just in the Japanese Canadian community, but just going on to unearthing history. And, and things like that. For me, it's, it's all of those things and, um . . . i-it's so important. Is this the end? No. This is going to grow. The other thing is, that I . . . forgot to mention is the um, honorary degree program for um . . . the students. The 1942 students at UBC, did I tell that part?
RS
No, I was going to follow up and ask you about it.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Why don't you go ahead.
VR
Mary and Tosh Kitagawa started the . . . um, research into the, expulsion of Japanese Canadian students from UBC, in 1942. The first time I ever heard about that, was . . . my uncle, my uncle Jack, Kobayashi at one point, when I was talking to him, and he, he said, I used to go to UBC too and I said you did? This is many years ago. And he said, yeah. But I got kicked out. And I went . . . what? And so he told, about the expulsion. And then my - Jack. In his . . . this is . . . my, Jack, and my, mother. He said, Well, they decided that because I was . . . Canadian but I was Japanese, ancestry that I couldn't stay at the university anymore because we were the bad guys. And he said So, we just had to get on with life. And then he paused and grinned and he said, Hey, I think I paid fees for the whole year. I, I should have got half of it back! Anyways. Um, through the Human Rights Committee I had met Mary and Tosh. And, um . . . Mary was telling me about, working towards honorary degrees for, these students, because she had heard that it was happening down in the - it HAD happened in the States. So, I remember . . . saying oh, my uncle Jack. And, and I started working with Mary and Tosh, now. That was a very difficult time for them because, there were road blocks. At UBC. And it was only when Mary went to the press that, all of a sudden the road blocks came down. But it was my uncle Jack, and so, I remember saying uncle Jack, there's going to be a ceremony, and you've got to come - he was living in Toronto in a, seniors' home. He was ninety. And I said, you've got to come, you - No, no, no, no, I don't need that, I don't need that. So, I had to en - enlist the help of his older sister, big sister, who phoned him and said, Jack, you have to come. Laughs. I quit school because of you so you can go to university! Laughs. And so . . . he came, and apparently, according to his daughter . . . when he, had made the decision to come he became quite excited about it. He needed some new clothes. He needed a suit. But he had been using a walker to get around. And he said, I'm coming but I'm going to walk across the stage. Not use my walker. So, my uncle Jack came. And he was, he was, he's so delightful. A great sense of humour, and I really liked him. The day of the ceremony there was a luncheon at St. John's College. Um, and then the ceremony, the actually ceremony, I think started at four o'clock or something like that. Five twenty that morning, Laughs. this is 2012 . . . five twenty that morning, I could hear rustling in the base- in the bedroom, downstairs? My bedroom's upstairs? Came downstairs and there's my uncle Jack, dressed in his suit already! And he said, I said Good morning Jack! And he said, Today is my graduation. And I said, Jack, yeah, yeah it is. Um . . . it's not until this afternoon. “I don't want to be late.” “Jack, trust me. It's five twenty in the morning. You can go back to sleep. I'll make sure you're not late. I promise you, you won't be late.” Rebeca laughs. “OH-kay.” So he goes back to bed. And . . . he got ready and everything later. We went to . . . the luncheon at St. John's and I said to him Jack, when we go into the, room, there will be media there, there will be people who, may want to interview you. So, I'm just warning you. Uh, “Oh no, I don't want to be interviewed I, I don't want to be interviewed.” And I said, you don't have to be, you can just smile and say no thank you.
01:05:01.000
01:05:01.000
VR
We get in there, and of course they come up to this, little man with the GREAT, great big grin, just beaming! And, and I'm sure they zeroed in on this man who just looked so, happy and alive, and . . . Laughs. the luncheon's ready to start, “Vivian, go get your uncle!” Rebeca laughs. He was the last person in that room, still being interviewed! And he was SO happy, and it was a WONDERFUL lunch, and hosted by St. John's College. And then we went to the ceremony, and remember he had said, he was going to walk across the stage? It was, at the Chan Centre, it was . . . wonderful. You can go to YouTube, and see the . . . Dr. Toope, the president's speech, and, and . . . Susanne Tabata did a wonderful film, about the history of all of this . . . and, um, they filmed the ceremony too. It was lovely, Dal Richards played music from that era, there were all kinds of, just this wonderful buzz in the room. It was packed. And, Dr. Toope, um, the president, said. Laughs. There were three rows of faculty. In their, PhD gowns and their caps and everything? And he said, Well, this is a good turnout, and Laughs. he said something about, um . . . it's the first time I've seen so many faculty attend when they didn't have to. Rebeca laughs. They were there out of personal interest. And uh . . . so the . . . the actual, uh . . . UBC students of '42, those who couldn't be there, they had a family member represent them, they wore black, the black robes. And they got, the, the big framed certificate, and, the, and all that. And then at one point. I think it was the chancellor who said, And now for the actual students, the, eleven actual students. Well, the WHOLE auditorium just erupted. Everybody jumped up and started clapping and cheering. And the faculty who were all down at the front threw their, you know their, caps in the air, for graduation? It was, touching it was, absolutely amazing. I found myself, pumping my fist in the air going, All right Uncle Jack! Rebeca laughs. And my mother . . . struggled to stand up, because she uses a walker. She stood up and, and she stood up, and she was crying. And she said That's my brother. And throughout, all the actual students being called one by one to cross, to walk across the stage, people were, were still. Cheering and clapping, and. When it was uncle Jack's turn. His name was called out, he got up there . . . he got, you know, the colourful hood, to wear over his black gown. He got his, big framed certificate and he TURNED, and he, looked out at the audience and he just BEAMED. That was nice. And there was a bit of a reception, now, the next day, I was taking him out to UBC because I wanted to take him to the bookstore to buy him a UBC sweatshirt. And uh . . . we parked, we were walking. Nice sunny day, we were walking towards the bookstore. And this woman Laughs. came walking towards us. Middle-aged woman. And she had a big smile on her face, and my uncle's pushing his, walker and, walking along, and. And she looked at him and she smiled and, and he smiled at her and, she said to him, are you one of the 1942 students? Laughs. And he, grinned, stood up straight and said, Yes, do you want to interview me? Both laugh. And so they talked and talked and talked, he was just beaming! Then we went into the bookstore. And there were other people - I'm sure they realized who he was. So he was, tried on his sweatshirt and uh . . . he wouldn't take it off, so I said, well, we have to pay for it and he said well the tag is still here and so, he put on the UBC sweatshirt, and he got a, a cap, and, got him a UBC pin and . . . he wanted to get, you know those folders for papers that say University for British Columbia? Yup, he was, and he, paid for that himself, and. He uh, wanted to get that, and . . . yeah, he was very proud. And then when we were . . . walking back to the car, there was a construction site and a sign that said, future home of the UBC Alumni. And he stopped and he went up to it and he touched the sign, he said, that's me. I'm now a UBC alumni. He said, I'm a university graduate, now this is my UNCLE. Who . . . had that job in Montreal. Went on to an international career. In terms of, then technology. Many, MANY, many of the students um . . . those 1942 students went on to have very successful careers. But having that university graduation. Was pretty meaningful. Yeah. And, and uh . . . you just know that that was, just that little bit of a missing part, all along. And thank you to UBC for the, for the ceremony.
01:10:00.000
01:10:00.000
VR
So . . . yeah. Now, I have his hood still. You know the, the coloured hood? And I didn't realize that, in order to give an honorary degree, it's a, real process, because there's a place in the States, that keeps track of all the hoods, for all the universities in the world? And it's registered. So they had to get a special one made up and get permission to use it. They, they don't just , put some colours together and do that. So . . . um, when he was leaving here, he had the hood. And . . . he, gave it to me, and he said, here, and I said no no no, give it to your daughters. Your daughters need to have this. And he said no, Vivian, you arranged it and, it means a lot to you. So . . . I wrote to his daughters and son to say, I've got it here. You know, if you ever, decide you want to have it, it's here, it's you're uncle's. It's your dad's. So, I've got it here. He graduated from Kitsilano High School, so I managed to get his high school grad picture? You know, the whole class picture? I've got that, and I've got the program, and the hood, and the certificate, um, his daughter has. So we're putting it together. And eventually, it'll go to the Nikkei National Museum. You know, along with the story of the whole 1942 students.
RS
Mmm.
VR
Yeah. I can't think of if - it's with anything else. No.
RS
Well I - I do have some, some questions, I mean we could -
VR
Okay.
RS
-start from there, yeah. First of all, thank you so much for . . . you know, such a . . . generous, telling of your life story and also your, your family, I really, appreciate it and I've, noted down a lot of questions because it's, very interesting, and. I think we can learn a lot from it. Um . . . the first thing I was curious about, so now . . . thinking back to where we, started, and we started talking about your, your grandparents, um . . . was, uh, I thought it might be . . . interesting to learn about what their, first impressions? Of, Canada, I guess it would be Victoria. Uh, great-grandparents, or?
VR
My . . . grand,
RS
Grandparents.
VR
My mother's, father landed in Victoria, my father's father came to Vancouver.
RS
Yes.
VR
Yeah.
RS
So, um . . . just because I think it's . . . to get a picture of what it was like at that time, and . . . what it was to, you know, to land in the city, I don't know if there were any sort of . . . uh, stories that were passed down in the family about, um . . . you know, coming to Canada for the first time and what, what that was like. Do you, have any family stories like that?
VR
No, I don't.
RS
Really!
VR
You're right. I don't. Um . . . no. That's a gap. That uh, you're pointing out that I . . . wish I knew. I could ask my mother. Um . . . I also have a cousin. Who's the son of my mother's older brother. He's been collecting some family stories. I'll ask him.
RS
Okay. Pause.
VR
Yeah. It . . . you know, you wonder . . . and that's a good question to ask ANY family, about first impressions.
RS
Mhmm. Mhm.
VR
Even today! People who first come here, right?
RS
Mhm. Yeah. Um . . . so then if um . . . I mean that might be something just of, personal interest to you that now you can,
VR
Mhm.
RS
-go ask, right, or go look through photos and sorts of things, but - another, another thing that we could maybe think about was, um . . . any family stories about uh, settling, and, and, you know, what, what that entailed, uh, as well.
VR
Settling meaning setting up a home, setting up a future -
RS
Yeah, and finding work, and these -
VR
Yeah.
RS
Sorts of things.
VR
Yeah. My . . . mother's father, because he came from a farming background, but the interesting thing is he came from a farming background. But. There was an intellectual component to that, because. Because he HAD taken university courses, and that was a long time ago! Laughs. Of interest too, is, my husband's grandmother. Um . . . in Norway. She . . . was . . . she was one of the few . . . Norwegian women, who went to university. 1916 to 1919. And so, I think, wow, we've got this university, running in our blood, from a long, Laughs. long time ago. Um. My, my mother's father . . . when he came here, he started farming. I mean, that's what he knew. And . . . he had property out in Langley. Now my, my mother's older brother, and my mother took us out there. It's all built up now, of course. But, took us out to where they think the approximate area was, and they, they farmed there. And then my . . . then my, my mother's grand, my mother's father . . . moved into town, and had, um . . . a piece of property. I don't think they owned it. In the Southlands area, you know that, now very posh area.
01:15:09.000
01:15:09.000
VR
And, and the house was there, and my mother says she remembers living in that house. And Laughs. so my sisters and I would, drive by every so often and go, Why don't we just . . . ask if, you know, we, just we can have part of that land back. Both laugh. But anyway it's there. And then, he ended up . . . um, becoming a farmer, um, a gardener. I think, rather than, because he probably couldn't afford to buy a farm. So he became a gardener. And he was a gardener for many families in the West Side of Vancouver. And that's when they were living in Kitsilano. Yeah. Now my, father's parents . . . I honestly don't know much but, they moved right into that Powell Street area. And they set up a small, little grocery store, and . . . and then the tofu business. Their home was, on McGill Street near the PNE? Now the, Laughs. story there is, my father used to, to show us that house, and that's where we used to live, and lalala. And then he told a story one time about how when it was, um . . . time to, leave, his parents did very much, um, what many families did. Because they could only take what they can carry. And they were told they were coming back. And that everything would be looked after. So . . . they, buried. And, and most families buried their, things like their really good china and their silver that, they knew they weren't going to need in the next two years. So my father said that, that um . . . his mother and father, in those, you know those tin cans that they used to have for, for rice? They buried um, a lot of dishes, and, and things like that. And they buried - they had, sort of like a shed. And instead of - they couldn't bury it in the house, and so they went out to the shed, they dug down deep, and they buried it. And they thought they'd come back. And, and it was. And my father said, when we came back, so, this would, now be, we moved back to Vancouver in 1960. And my father I remember showing me the, you know, he would, drive by and say that used to be our house, and see that shed? That's where we bu - Laughs. My youngest sister and I were, much alike, and we used to say, Let's go knock on the door and see if it's still there! Laughs. And see if we could have - but my father always said no. No. He wouldn't let us. I, I don't know what his reasons were. But he wouldn't let us - now. It was corroborated, because I got um, a list of um . . . possessions that were left behind? I got that list from Eric, and, um, yeah. There, there was a list of stuff that was left behind. Nice dishes, and. Beautiful artefacts from Japan and stuff like that. But anyways, my sister and I, one time, uh . . . were driving by. And uh . . . Laughs. and we, without my father. We, we decided we would go knock on the door Laughs. and say excuse me but my, grandparents . . . can we . . . and we knocked and nobody was home. And then another time, my sister and I, drove by, and, we discovered that it had been, made into a garage. Like a proper, building, garage kind of thing. And . . . and then another time my sister and I were there, and we were with, I think with her boyfriend or somebody or other. And managed to peek in a window. And there was, concrete on the floor. So we thought . . . I remember saying, I honestly remember saying, How far down to you have to dig to lay concrete? Laughs. I, it might still be there. I have no idea. My mother's, um . . . my mother's parent's house, at First and Maple in the Kitsilano area? She always used to point out the house, now, it's now a, an apartment building. But she said, when they tore the house down, she wonders how they did it, because . . . they had, um, through my uncle and his ham radio, they had all his stuff, and they, shoved into the walls: cameras, um . . . radios, and stuff like that which, they weren't allowed to have. So they would, they buried it in the walls. And some dishes and things like that, that were put into the walls, so. I don't know what happened.
RS
Hm. So was this, um, when you returned in the sixties with your parents, um . . . was it, like, quite a regular thing, that you would . . . go back and, and see, where . . . their, homes were? Or was it, when, when you returned, they just wanted to show you, this is where we came from.
VR
The latter. I mean, I had not seen it before. Um, it was just . . . you know, you'd, you'd be driving or walking, and you would see it, it wasn't sort of a, we have to go check on it, it wasn't that.
RS
Mm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Mhmm. Hmm.
VR
It was - it's almost as if . . . I mean, I think me, now, I would say, let's go back and check, let's go knock on that door. There's Laughs. a little more aggression or, or confidence, or just, it's the times. But I think too . . . my father never talked very much. He rarely talked about, growing up and, things like that.
01:20:05.000
01:20:05.000
VR
My mother told more stories, and we probably learned more stories about my father's family through my mother. Right or wrong, I know it's happened in many cases, there are, instances where, people didn't talk at all. There's that Japanese word, shikataganai. Which means . . . the past is the past. Learn from it and move on. And, and I think . . . there's that, and, and I think it happens in other . . . um, cultures and, too, where . . . those were hard times, we're, we're moving on. And, and you can't blame people for that. It's just, that's the way it was. It's only now, I think, when, we are . . . ever so much more curious about history, and we have more access. To history, and stories, and things like that.
RS
Mhmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Hmm. So . . . you mentioned that you, um . . . you learned, uh . . . a lot of stories from your mother then. Um, did she ever talk about, what it was like growing up in Vancouver, what school was like at Kitsilano school and what the neighbourhood was like, uh. I think um, it's quite interesting . . . um, to learn about, you know, the communities, uh . . . as they were, prior to leaving. Um, I think you learn a lot about where people were coming from, and. How different it must have been to, to have to leave and go, somewhere that's completely different. So, I'm not sure if she ever talked about her, her childhood at all, I know, that you mentioned that she has some happy memories, um. That unfortunately, uh, changed, at that moment when she was, on the bus, when she realized that changes were happening.
VR
You know I think throughout the stories that, my mother told . . . I think she just considered herself as, no different than anyone else. She never, talked about, feeling discriminated against or . . . being unhappy or being aware of . . . being different or anything like that. The stories she tells . . . I think are the stories of any young person at that time. Friends, visiting friends, families, um . . . quite happy, actually. Very much a city girl. Her . . . off on a tangent here, but her one sister, her older sister Yuki, um . . . it was an arranged marriage. But, not arranged in the sense of, you don't know this person, but it's a case of, family family, you know, introduce the children to each other and do they like each other. Her older sister Yuki . . . um, married a, a man who was a fisherman. His last name was Maehara? And, he was a fisherman in Prince Rupert. So . . . she, she married him, she was only nineteen when she married him, but that's not unusual in those days. She died in 1939, which, and she was probably about twenty, twenty-one years old then. Um . . . she . . . what was I going to say. She, she met Mr. Maehara and, married him, and she moved to Prince Rupert. She died less than a year later. She died of pneumonia. And . . . my mother said, that . . . my sis - my aunt. Her sister used to write letters back, home, saying Mr. Maehara was a very good man. He was such a nice man. He was a fisherman. And he was so good to her and she was very happy with him. But it was lonely. She was used to living with this big family in the city, and now she's a fisherman's wife in Prince Rupert. Life is different, the weather is different. The circumstances are different. But she kept saying she was very happy with him, he was very very kind and very good to her. Now the interesting thing is . . . um, and then she, she passed away, and my mother said, her mother and father, there's a picture, her mother and father and, one of mum, mother's brothers, who was a baby at the time, were . . . went up for the funeral. And it was just a simple wooden cross and, they went up for the funeral. And she said, the doctors had said that she died of pneumonia. No, apparently she died of pneumonia. But my mother said her mother used to say, she thinks it was a lot of loneliness in there. Even though she was happy. Now - my mother had always said - not always, but, I mean, she would say every so often, I wonder if . . . if she's still buried there, I wonder if that cross is there, it was just a simple wooden cross. So . . . oh gosh, when was that. I don't know. Ten . . . ten years ago? Maybe? Pause. No, more. A little bit more?
01:25:00.000
01:25:00.000
VR
I was invited up to Prince Rupert to, work with the principals and vice principals, that's one of the workshops that I did. So . . . I was going there in October, that summer I went to the Steveston market, you know the farmer's market, here in Steveston? And I was wandering around and everything . . . and I saw um, a, you know, one of the booths, and it said uh, photography. Jeff Maehara. M-A-E-H-A-R-A. And I remember thinking, my mother said that that was an unusual name, especially since it was spelled that way. So I went up to talk to this guy. He was, Jeff was, 31, 30? Really nice. And I said, I was talking to him and then Maehara, and I said to him, do you have any family in Prince Rupert? And he said, oh! All my family comes from Prince Rupert. Laughs. And I said . . . um, my aunt, my mother's, aunt. My mother's sister, was married to a Mr. Sadamichi Maehara. And she said he was a very, very nice man, but my aunt passed away. And he said, oh! That's my grandfather! Isn't that amazing? So, so, Sadamichi remarried, and became the, Laughs. father to Jeff, this guy that I met here. That was amazing! So I said, oh, my goodness, I said, lalalala, um, I'm going up to Prince Rupert. My first visit to Prince Rupert. I'm going up there in, in October. And he said, I'll give you some names, and so. He did. And so I stayed an extra couple of days. And this, um. Lovely . . . family came to pick me up, and, um . . . their, mother, who was quite elderly at the time, she remembered. Sadamichi. And she said oh yes, he was a very, very nice man. They took me out to the spot where, my aunt had, been living. And it was a, grey day, it was just raining lightly, but it was grey, and it was windy, it was October. And, we were standing there and of course the, the housing was all gone, but, and there were trees there. And, and this lady, elderly woman said to me, just stand here, close your eyes, and imagine what it was like for your aunt to be nineteen years old, and living here, and her husband's gone for three, four weeks at a time, fishing. And she said, and this isn't even winter weather. And I remember, in tears, thinking, yeah. This is what it was like to live there. So anyways, they then took me out to the cemetery, and, the cemetery there is divided - Chinese, Japanese, Jewish. I don't know - I don't know why. I think it was just set up that way at one point in time. And . . . uh, Sadamichi, Mr. Maehara, and his second wife, had, um . . . I don't know how, or what, or whatever, but . . . that cemetery in Port . . . Essington I think it was called . . . Port, no, Port Evans? Had been moved. To, it was closed down or something, but it moved to, everything had been moved to Prince Rupert so, it was in Prince Rupert. So they had um, bought and set up a BEAUTIFUL stone in my aunt's honour. It's got her name on it and everything. It was SO nice, it was so nice of them to do that. So, buried there now, is, uh, alongside her now is Sadamichi. But, yeah, and so they were SO good to me. And, and they explained that, you know, this is, and that's why I saw it, and I took pictures. And everything, and then I, sent it out to all my relatives and I brought it back to my mother. And then, I went back two years later. To work with the, um, Prince Rupert Principals and Vice Principals again, and. My um, friend. Said to me, why don't we go to the archives to see if there's an obituary or something for your aunt? She said, do you have, the date of when she died? And so, all I knew is that it was 1939 and I had her name. So we went to the archives. And, Laughs. digitalization! The, the woman said to me, what was the name and what was the date? And she typed it in, bang bang bang, and she went in and she came back with the actual newspapers. And there was, on the front page there was a little article. And it says, Japanese bride . . . dies or something like that. And it was her. It was an article about her. And it said that, somehow word had got to her husband and he came back. And she . . . had been sick, but he came back, he left and he came back. And he took her into Prince Rupert into the hospital. But she died, three or four days later. And the doctor said it was pneumonia. And when I told my mother, my mother said, oh, because she always thought that her sister had died alone. But she said, her sister had said that Sadamichi was a very nice man, so he probably did a whole lot he could to get back to her that she was so ill. And he actually took her to the hospital. So my mother said it was a comfort to her to know that she was, in the hospital and she was with her husband when, when she died.
01:30:07.000
01:30:07.000
RS
Mmm. Growing up so . . . differently too, or being separated, um, I'm sure there's like, your mind goes, right and you sort of wonder, what it's like -
VR
Yeah.
RS
-in this, faraway place. Um . . . in Vancouver, one thing I was curious about was, you mentioned uh, the business, with uh, the tofu business, uh, and also the store. Um . . . I'd wondered if anyone had shared with you, the daily sort of, ins and outs, or, perhaps even just a little bit more, uh, detail about, um, what that business was, was like when it was sort of, you know, up and running before, you know, any sort of interruption.
VR
I don't know much but I know that my father . . . used to deliver tofu on his bicycle. And uh . . . yeah. And, then, he graduated to, a motorcycle. A small motorcycle, with a sidecar. And, he would put the tofu in the sidecar and deliver it and, and I guess business was, Laughs. was good. And, Laughs. when he got, when he got the motorcycle, he picked up my mother one day, and - to show off his motorcycle. And, and uh . . . he said let's go for a ride. And he, motioned for her to get in the sidecar. Laughs. And my mother . . . okay, you're getting to know my mother. And she said, “I'm not going to sit in there. I'm not tofu.” Both laugh. So, she sat behind him. Laughs.
RS
Oh my goodness . . . Laughs.
VR
This is my same mother who, I mean my mother who . . . when I asked her one day, do you remember when you met, Dad? You know, how did you meet? And she said well, she . . . liked to go from Kits down to watch the, baseball players. But she and her sister weren't allowed to go unaccompanied, by their parents and so she'd take her brothers. And um . . . Laughs. and she'd take her two brothers, and they would go down there. And, they were allowed to watch the boys play baseball, down in the Powell Street, you know the, um . . . the park there?
RS
Yeah.
VR
And, and I said, Oh, were you allowed to talk to the boys? No, we weren't allowed to talk to the boys so then Laughs. my uncle, my uncle who's now . . . he just turned, ninety-two, yeah. And he was here, he comes here, once a year? From Toronto. Because his son is in Whitehorse. And, and he, he and my mother were talking and, and . . . he said to my mother something about, you know going to, I have - “I had to go with you, to” - him and another brother had to go. To accompany. And so, Laughs. so anyways, my mother goes, I know. And, Laughs. and then, my cousin said to him, Well did you stay with her all the - the whole time and make sure she didn't talk to the boys? No . . . no, no, he said, not always, because sometimes my mother and her sister would give them a little bit of money and tell them to go buy some chocolate or something? Laughs. Which was like, get lost for half an hour. Laughs. And they'd stay, and then we got to talk to the boys. So then I said to my mother, you know, back to the how did you meet? And she said, oh he was one of the baseball players. He was a really good baseball player. He was a back catcher. And uh, he was really good. And I said, well, well, what did you . . . think of him when you first saw him? And Laughs. she said, well he was a showoff. Laughs. And I said, he was a showoff? Like, was he a showoff all the time? No, no, no, no. Oh, mum, was he showing off for you? Yes. Laughs. So, it's, it's interesting, isn't it, as you age, you hear these stories about your parents that, and you just try to imagine your parents, of that age and, yeah, I mean that's natural behaviour, isn't it. Laughs.
RS
Mm, goofy. Laughs.
VR
And then, and my father, he went to Strathcona school, um . . . they used to play baseball all the time in their free time but he said, he said there was a, a real divide between the Chinese, Canadian kids who come down from Chinatown and the Japanese Canadians who go this way? And, the meeting ground was the Powell Street Grounds. Right? And, and it was always baseball. So, we played and, you know, there was this unwritten rule that you have to be gone by such and such a time. And uh . . . and I said, were there ever any, problems? And he said oh yes, sometimes there'd be fights. And, Laughs. “Dad, did you ever fight?” “Oh, no.” Laughs. But, you think, no . . . my dad was pretty spunky. Now, talking about my dad being spunky . . . oh gosh, it was before the last institute, the institute this year? And I got an email from Eric. Eric Adams? A paper that he and Jordan had been writing. And he, he just sent it out and said, you know, what do you think, comments please . . . I read, the first line. And it had Nakashima, and then two other names. And one of the names was Tadao Wakabayashi.
01:35:00.000
01:35:00.000
VR
Pause. And I thought, that's my father's name. So I fired off an email immediately to Eric to say, Tadao Wakabayashi, that's my father's name. What do you know, about him? Is it somebody with the same name? So he immediately, emailed back, with, um, his wife's name is Akiko, da da da, and I went, oh my gosh, that's my father. I had NO idea. NO idea that my father had done that. Pause. That he was, one of three men chosen to go to, Ottawa to protest the broken promise. Pause. I didn't even know that there had been a resistance movement. Pause. So I asked my mother. You know, do you remember Dad going to - ? So my mother's memory is spotty, so, you know I, I'm just patient and - do you remember Dad ever going to Ottawa and uh - ? “No, no, he never went to Ottawa.” Uh . . . when you were in Blind Bay . . . did Dad ever . . . you know, go . . . to Toronto? “No, no.” So then, the third time, I thought, well I'm going to be smart. Mom, do you remember when Dad had to go to Kamloops to . . . um, protest, the disappearance of Mr. Coy? “Yeah.” How many times did he go? “Oh, lots of times.” Was there one time when he went, and he was gone for a LONG time? Laughs. That was a good question, hey? Laughs. And she said, ah, and she's thinking and thinking, and then she said, yeah, one time he was gone for a LONG time. Where - was, where did he go? “Oh, I don't know, Kamloops, I think, but one time he was gone for a long time.” Oh - more than a week, she said. Cause the train ride was what, days. And, I said - oh. Do you think he could have gone to Ottawa? “No, why would he go to Ottawa?” So I think that's the time when he went. But anyways, um . . . that resistance movement, I didn't know anything about it, where . . . there was a group of, people, mainly in the camps I think, were collecting, money monthly from families, whatever they could contribute, sometimes it was, twenty-five cents. And with that, they chose three men to go to Ottawa to represent the Japanese Canadians. To say, hey, you broke a promise. One was a man who was, not a naturalized Canadian, born in Japan, one was a man who was born in Japan, but had become a Canadian citizen, and the third one, was a man who was born in Canada. So the other two men, my understanding is, were in their sixties, they were older. And for the, the man who was born in Canada, it was Dad. Now I don't know if he volunteered, he asked, or, or what, but just the fact that, he was the one, chosen to go . . . Pause. and, they . . . couldn't, get an audience with, the Prime Minister or anybody, so I guess, I don't know how many days they were there, two days or not much more, so I guess . . . they heard that . . . these men, the Prime Minister and these men, dined at . . . what's the name of the dining hall . . . it was, some sort of like, Wilfred Laurier, dining hall or something, it was, it was quite posh, and it was a private club, and that's where all the politicians and the powers . . . that be, dined. And of course . . . Japanese Canadians weren't allowed in there, non-members weren't allowed in there. But I guess the, three men showed up there, and walked right past the doorman, and a-affront, accosted the men who were sitting dining and said hey, you broke a promise, well, they were quickly ushered out. They did - my understanding is that they did launch an appeal. But the judge that heard their case . . . um, threw it out. It also turns out that the judge that heard their case was in the Cabinet that actually made the decision to break the promise. Now is that a conflict of interest or . . . yeah. Anyways . . . so when I heard that story about my father, it was interesting because . . . I was SO surprised. And then I began to think . . . wow. W-was this resistance movement universally, loved by all Japanese Canadians? And that was a question I asked Eric and Jordan. And the answer was no. There were some that said, let it be. Y-you're sticking your neck out, and you don't need to. Pause. So . . . knowing that, and . . . knowing that my father did that, it's - to me, it says something about the man that my father was. That he would do that. That he, he had that, strength that said, I don't care if there are people who think this is wrong, that. We need to do this. Laughs. I remember Jordan's comment: who would have thought that seventy years later, here is his daughter, chairing the Community Council? For Landscapes of Injustice?
01:40:09.000
01:40:09.000
VR
So I was proud, I was really proud. The interesting thing is too, then Eric, before the institute said he wanted to bring that up, and was it okay to use my name, and say that that was my father. And I remember my first instinct was well, of course. But I didn't say yes, right away, and I, and I wondered, why am I not saying yes? And that's when I began to understand the power of oral histories. That you're sharing stories that . . . I didn't even know until very recently. I hadn't even talked much with my mother about it. Pause. I talk to my daughters, but, here's a very personal story that's not a universally loved story, maybe. And, and that to me . . . really got me thinking about the power, negative and positive, of oral histories, and the responsibility we have, when we not only take and record them, but disseminate them. Anyways, yes, I was very proud of my father. Because, in reflecting on what he had done, and his lessons of get a good education, be of service to your community, when I reflect on his life, right up until he passed away, that was my father. And uh . . . and I remember talking with my daughters. And my one daughter saying, Grandpa would have been really proud of you, Mum.Pause. And then, and then it made me reflect on my own daughters. And, how they're serving the community. So, my older daughter is um . . . she's actually a scientist, but she's, she works in the environmental field. And, um . . . is, doing an AMAZING job. You know, she's an environmentalist, she works, um, she's well known for project management for research, for business development, for, um, doing all kinds of things. She also, not Juno, the dog that's here, Juno . . . um, is a pet, but she also has trained, um, a dog, to be . . . uh, a search and rescue dog, along with her, and to be an avalanche rescue dog. It's, it's tough training, it's hours every day of training. But yeah, that's how she serves the community. Search and rescue, and avalanche search and rescue. So she does that, and that's quite a commitment. Younger daughter is a nurse, and she used to work at Children's Hospital in the emergency ward. And then when they moved to Victoria, because her husband, was in the government . . . she, took a job as a, street nurse. For the street, and - nurse for the street people. The homeless, the street people, the underprivileged . . . and everybody, including me, said, whoa, that's a real switch from Children's Hospital. And I love her answer, when she said, Mum, the most vulnerable people in our society are the very young, the very old, and those with mental health issues. That's who I'm working with. And I thought, there again, there's that service component to, nursing. And I thought, thank you to my father for, you know, the blood that runs thick. Yeah.
RS
Mhm. That's intergenerational, isn't it.
VR
Yeah. And even Natasha, that you just met now. International relations. “I'm going to save the world” Both laugh. Yeah.
RS
Yeah. Amazing.
VR
But yeah. So - my father. Definitely. You know, when I see - I see the things that he did throughout his life, and the way, you know, what he, said and what he did and what he believed in. And then my mother, too, in her own powerful way. She may not have been the PTA, you know, the PAC president, but she was in the kitchen and always making sandwiches for people, and if - and there was a family that lived on our street. In Kamloops. And, um. He was disabled, and the family was struggling. We didn't have a lot, but she was always taking, you know, sewing clothes for the, giving them our clothes, and she'd take food to them, and. It was always, it was always just an example that. That I see now. Yeah.
RS
Hm. You're just reminding me, um, because you were talking about your mother, and uh, work, um. You mentioned that she worked at a, a sawmill? Before the -
VR
Mhm.
RS
- before the war?
VR
- before the war?
RS
Where - do you know where that was -
VR
In the office.
RS
In the office. Okay.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Okay. And how long was she, was she there?
VR
Oh gosh. I don't know.
RS
Mm.
VR
Uh, she finished school, she had to leave school in grade ten, she said. When she told her um, teacher, um . . . she said the teacher cried and said Aki, you're so smart, you're so smart. But I understand. And uh, it's interesting because Laughs. many years later when I went to Kits? I had that teacher.
RS
Really.
01:44:57.000
01:44:57.000
VR
Yeah. And - and uh . . . and I said something to her one day about Kits and my mother, and, oh, “what's your mother's name?” Well, her name was Aki - Akiko Kobayashi. Pause. “Did she leave school, dadada? I remember her. She was so smart, she was SUCH a good student, but she had to, leave.”/ She remembered. And, and that's, grade twelve, for me, right? Grade twelve, first day of school, I walk into homeroom, and I introduce myself to the teacher, here's my papers, and I'm a new student here. Laughs. And he looks at the papers and he goes, Vivian Wakabayashi. Do you know any Kobayashis? And I said, uh, my mother's family. Oh, he says. Jack Kobayashi? I went, that's my uncle. He said, “he was so smart. He was brilliant. He was one of my favourite students. I remember him,” and I'm just thinking, oh my gosh. Laughs.
RS
Hmm. And where - when your, your mother, and her, brother , when they were going to school . . . did they, do you know what sort of makeup the, the class was like? Was it quite a . . . a mixed classroom? Like, what types of - of -
VR
That's a good question.
RS
- students, I'd be curious to know and with your father as well. Um . . . sometimes there are cases in which there are, just a . . . a couple of, um, Japanese Canadian students amongst a great mix of, of different kinds of families and other times it's uh . . . depending on the community, it's a little bit different.
VR
Yeah. I think Kits, there was quite a mix. But Strathcona is where the, the biggest mix was. In fact I have a book that you could take a look at. It's um, it's about Strathcona, the area. And there's an interview with my father in there.
RS
Right.
VR
Yeah. And there were DEFINITE groups of Chinese Canadians, First Nations, Japanese Canadians, Germans, yeah.
RS
Mm. Hm.
VR
But the funny thing is, then when I was at Kits for that one year, grade 12, I re- Laughs. I was on, I'm, still on the reunion committee. We're now so old that we have reunions every FIVE years instead of - . But I remember there was, I don't know which reunion it was and . . . there was a question about, nametags. Do we really need nametags, lalala? And, you know, what do you think, what do you think, and I remember saying, oh, yeah, because I was only here for one year, and so, nobody would remember me, and there was this BURST of laughter. From the committee and I went, what? And they said, Vivian, don't you realize, we were, I think there were about 320 of us in our grad class. 1961. And they said, Vivian, you were the only Asian female. I went, really? Laughs. That's how, absolutely unaware, I was, of being. Of looking, different, right? So, I think that says something to the way I was brought up. That I didn't, think of myself as different. Yeah. And it's funny too, because, I mean it still happens because I mean a few years ago, we were going to a dinner party, we knew the, couple that was hosting, and . . . and um . . . we were walking in, and I know a couple of cars parked, at about the same time and there were people walking in behind us, and we walked in and the hostess says . . . to the, room at large, “Oh! And here comes my Japanese friend!” And I went- Laughing, clicking noise.
RS
You looked to see who was coming.
VR
Laughs. I looked to see who was coming! And Bjorn says, “She's talking about you.” “Oh!.” Laughs.
RS
That must have been strange. Pause. In a way.
VR
I guess it's that whole thing of growing up . . . trying so hard to be Canadian. And . . . one of the, certainly one of the drawbacks of, for my generation, is. My parents, they went to Japanese school, they learned, the traditional, things, and certainly, it was, common, amongst the more, well-to-do or, whatever, families, that, when their children reached the age of puberty they were sent back to Japan. To learn to speak Japanese properly, and. To learn the Japanese arts and things like that. My father was sent back when he was eleven, but apparently he cried. And so they, sent him back. And uh, then he went back again when he was nineteen. And, I don't know exactly the reason, because his answer always was, well, he was looking for a wife, but, he found, my mother here. Yeah. Um, what was I going to say. Uh, yeah. That they, they all went to Japanese school and they learned, the martial arts and the . . . and the cultural practices and things like that. But for people of my generation, we all agree, that, we didn't get that. Because, first of all, it was frowned upon to be, Japanese. And, when I started school, “never, never speak Japanese, anymore. You are, you have to speak only English.” So it was ONLY English. Even in the homes. Which was not, a problem, because my parents were born here. But still, it was that thing, that you try to erased your Japaneseness. And so the only time . . . I was ever in contact, contact with, other Japanese Canadians was with my relatives, or . . . twice a year we'd go to the, annual bazaar at the Buddhist church but we weren't Buddhist and so it, that wasn't us. So I think, for most of us, we became so Canadianized, it never occurred to us if somebody said something about, “you're Japanese,” I'd go, I am? You - yeah.
01:50:16.000
01:50:16.000
RS
Mhm.
VR
Now, for my parents . . . I think they just grew up, they both grew up, surrounded by different cultures and I don't think they ever saw themselves as being, different or better, it's just, they just mixed in.
RS
Mhm. One thing I was um . . . interested in, with the, deliveries, of the tofu . . . was, if - and also with the store, if this was something that was crossing different, communities and cultures, or if it was, mostly within, Japanese Canadian community. Um, understanding that network a little bit more? Pause. If you don't have the answer, that's fine,
VR
Yeah.
RS
-but I was curious about it.
VR
Yeah. I-I'm guessing - you know, this is just a guess, I'm guessing that . . . people pretty well stuck to their own cultures. I think so. I think there was a separation, Chinese Canadian, Japanese Canadian. Yeah. Things like that.
RS
Mm. Mm. Is that the sense that you get from some of the stories that you've, sort of been told?
VR
Pause. Yeah. When I reflect on what, for example my mother talks about her, social life and my father - things that they did. They were always with other Japanese Canadians, right. Other Japanese Canadian families, yeah.
RS
Hm.
VR
I know that . . . um . . . oh! Yeah. I know that my mother's oldest sister, she did something that was fairly common, she quit school and she got a job working uh, as a maid, I don't know what the term is, for a Caucasian, couple. A white couple. And, she would do things like polish the silver, serve at their dinner parties, um, vacuum, she didn't do child minding, but she, she was sort of the housekeeper I guess, in a way. There was a person who did the scrubbing and the cleaning and washing, but she did. She, and she started doing that from when she was just, fourteen or something, she was fairly young. And, my mother said she would go and help her older sister sometimes, if it was an extra big dinner party. And they needed more silver polished. Pause. So there was that. And, and she said, that she remembers that . . . sometimes her sister would bring home food. From dinner parties, and oh, this was like, really different food, this was. You know, this wasn't Japanese Canadian, or what they thought was Canadian food. And then my - her father, my grandfather, when he was gardening, it was always for the, the white families out towards UBC and the West Side, things like that. So, yeah. When I, yeah. You're right. And then my - cousins, my mother's cousins actually, in Kamloops, the oldest daughter there, I remember . . . she, was doing the same thing. She was sort of a housekeeper for this family and, sometimes she would cook, food for us kids. And she would cook this, Snaps fingers. whatever it was, and we would just think it was so different, it was so neat. Yeah. But growing up too, it's funny, because. There's an adaptation, you know. Talking about food . . . i-it's funny how food, you know, the cultures clash? I grew up, putting soy sauce on scrambled eggs. Not ketchup. I don't think it ever occurred to us. I also - Laughs. I was at university before I realized that corned beef and cabbage was not Japanese. I could remember my friends, just hysterical. Because, “Vivian! Corned beef and cabbage is Irish” - “no it's not, it's Japanese.” Laughs. Because we would stir-fry, corned beef and cabbage. And we'd put soy sauce on it, and have it with rice. And I LOVED it! And so - yeah. And, and. One of the things I told you this route that I'm working on in, compiling, pidgin English and, you know this is. One of the things we laugh most about is, food. How the adaptation of, how English, food, English food, was adapted into the Japanese culture like Laughs. corned beef and cabbage. But at the same time, how, um . . . the people who were here, the, the first immigrants that came, and especially during the war, there was no access to, food from Japan, or any things like that. And so I remember, my um . . . my uncle. When we lived in Kamloops and my one uncle had moved back to the coast. He used to bring us seaweed, he would, they would go out and gather seaweed. And rinse it off and everything, and bring it up, and dry it. And then bring it to the Japanese Canadians who lived in the interior, and we just thought it was, wonderful. Things like making pickles, and, making things like that. It's just adaptation, so. If I show it, or if we show it to the Japanese, JAPANESE students who come they go, what is this, and, and, it's easy to say, it's Japanese and they go - Scoff. Rebeca laughs. Similarity, maybe. So - for cookbooks, for example. The most popular cookbooks for Japanese Canadians are NOT the JAPANESE cookbooks. But, Japanese Canadian cookbooks.
01:55:10.000
01:55:10.000
VR
Because there are the adaptations of, over the years. Like chow mein is Chinese. But, somehow, Laughs. chow mein, became a favourite food. And so it was, it was hilarious because you - talk to people my age - Monday. Was always chow mein sandwiches, at school. Because chow mein was something that was special, because you used meat, a little bit of meat, but you had chow mein on Sunday nights. And so on Mondays, we'd all take chow mein sandwiches to school. And then it became this - um, thing of all my friends would say, I'll, trade you, trade you, right? And eventually my mother would make, chow mein sandwiches for my friends. And, I'd take it to school on Mondays. But yeah, I just thought of it, it's that whole . . . issue with food, and growing up.
RS
Mmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Mhm.
VR
Which makes it Japanese CANADIAN, not Japanese.
RS
Hm.
VR
So it's the language, it's the food, it's the . . . customs, I grew up . . . following, well my parents followed the, New Year's tradition of inviting, people over for open house with Japanese food, and that's when all the expensive Japanese food came out. And the men, would, start off late in the morning on New Year's Day and visit every family, you paid your respects, and you had to do that. That was a very Japanese custom, I don't think they do that in Japan anymore. But I remember that. And they'd have a little drink, and then they'd be served food, so the. Women and the children stayed at home and the men went from house to house, and I remember Laughs. realizing as a child, holy cow, the men that come in the late afternoon or the evening, they're, pretty looped. Yeah. But that's, that's what you did. And then, I realized how customs changed over time. Right? And so, then it wasn't just the men that went around. Instead families would get together and have, a dinner. And, we did that for ages, and then when we moved to Vancouver for example, my parents would invite some of their families, to have this, Japanese food, I would invite some of my high school friends . . . and so, it's funny because now, I have, um, three or four friends I'm still in touch with from high school days, from grade twelve, and then we went through university together. And they would say, heck, we were eating sushi and drinking green tea more than fifty years ago! Yeah.
RS
Hm. Kinda cool. Hm. When um . . . this is sort of a random question, but. Um . . . because your parents had, already sort of, met in Vancouver, um, I had wondered . . . when they were actually married, were they married, before? Having to, relocate? Or were they, was that something that, came afterward?
VR
They married, when they realized that if they weren't married, they'd be separated. A lot of marriages happened then. And, and a lot of families, moved to the sugar beet farms in Alberta and Manitoba so that the families could stay together. Because otherwise the men were sent to road camps and the women, were in Hastings Park and then sent off to, camps, alone. And so there are some, there are many sad stories of women and children in, in camps in Midway, Greenwood, places like that, and then they get word that their husband, the father, had, is very ill, or - or worse. So . . . I know for my parents' sake, they said, you know, they were planning on getting married anyways, but they married so they could be together. And, and there were a lot, I think if you, ask around, there were a lot of families who did that. They did whatever they could to stay together.
RS
Mmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Hm. Um . . . maybe moving into, now we've learned a lot about your, about your parents I think, and. Um, as much as, you . . . can get from the stories that were passed down to you before you were born, um. Maybe we can move into some of your, early memories and, we got. Um, a bit of a sense of what it was like growing up in, in Blind Bay and Notch Hill and, and Kamloops but, um . . . I was, curious about, uh, a few things . . . uh, one being a little bit more about . . . um, school and, things you did for fun, and, and these types of, things and your earliest memories around that.
VR
Pause. When you said school . . . I remember, I think I said Notch Hill School?
RS
Mhm.
VR
When I was there for grade one, two, and most of grade three. There was always a, traditional Christmas concert. And I remember in grade . . . now I don't know which grade it was. Pause. It was my, earliest memory, of. What I realize now was, racism, towards First Nations. And it wasn't until, years later I realized that this family was First Nations. But, Notch Hill there was the main road, and then, the main road went this way and here was the school and the community centre, grocery store right here, but up the hill here - I don't know anybody who lived up there. It was, I don't know if it was, it was remote, but it was just, there were very few people that lived up on the hillside.
02:00:19.000
02:00:19.000
VR
But I remember . . . at Christmas time, for the concert, we were going to do this dance. The girls were going to do a dance. And . . . and, we were each supposed to get a partner. And there was one girl, I remember her name but I won't say it, um, there was one girl who nobody wanted to be, her partner. And I remember the other girls going, Ooh, don't touch her hand, her hand is dirty. She was dark-skinned. And, um, and . . . and I remember thinking, she was really nice, she was really shy, really quiet, hardly ever spoke. And I remember going over to her and saying, I'll be your partner. Because I, couldn't figure it out. Remember some of the girls saying, to me, afterwards. Disapproving noises. And I couldn't figure it out I, I remember thinking . . . I, I didn't see anything wrong with her, so, I was her partner. And I remember the teacher, saying something to my parents about the fact that I said, asked her. Want to be my partner? So my parents never said anything other than, that's nice that you were her partner. It was fine. It wasn't until years, years later, I connected her with, this one family. Every so often, my, my parents, would . . . bundle up clothes that we weren't, able to wear anymore, or, especially it was food, my mother'd make stew, usually it was stew, and she'd make lots and then, she'd put some in a container. And, my father would drive, and we would go up the hill and up to this house, and it was just a little old house up there. And he would make me, go and just leave it on the doorstep. And he would say don't knock, just leave it on the doorstep. And I remember saying to him one time, but there are eyes, you know, people are. Looking at me. I could see there's people inside there. He said, just smile and just leave it there and then leave. Pause. They were a First Nations family. Now, I don't know how long they lived there, but other than those memories, I don't, really remember too much. But, it's that example that my parents were setting, wasn't it?
RS
Mhm. Pause.
VR
Yeah. Pause. Yup.
RS
Hm.
VR
Now, what else was the question? Laughs. I forgot. Laughs.
RS
I was just curious about, um . . .
VR
Oh, early memories of school, you said.
RS
Yeah.
VR
I loved school. I always loved school. Um . . . I always loved school, Notch Hill was great . . . went to Kam, um . . . North Kamloops . . . Easter time in grade three . . . I was used to a one room schoolhouse with about, eleven kids grades one through eight. And uh . . . Laugh, lower voice. I wet my pants, every day. Because it was an outhouse, and if the boys saw the girls in there, they used to rock the outhouse. And they would, tell us that they, they were going to make us fall down the hole? So I didn't go. Laughs. I didn't go I, I remember that, and uh . . . I remember, uh, sometimes we would go outside and play baseball. And I remember the older boys - the first teacher I had for grade one and two . . . I remembered the boys, would conspire, that they would tra - when they threw the ball back to her, she was the pitcher, they would throw it really hard! Laughs. And, if they were batting, they would try to hit her? Because she would always go, Ooh! Laughs. And she'd jump, or she'd run away! Laughs. And I remember thinking, that wasn't very nice, but, but I was just, fascinated that people would do something like that. I remember, um . . . yeah, I remember there was a cloakroom, when you came in. Um . . . and you had to leave your boots there, and you had to leave your, lunch there. But at lunchtime, the sandwiches were always frozen. At Christmas time, I mean at, in the wintertime. And inside the main building - and I've been there. Like, I, I went back there again two years ago, and, and . . . in the main part of the, thing? There was a big potbellied stove. And, the youngest kids got to sit closest to the stove, so I was always closest to the stove. Now when I went back there a couple years ago, this, this one family, they took me to the school, and they asked the caretaker, could we, could you open up please, Vivian really wants to see it, she used to go to this school. So I was talking. And its - you know, refurbished and everything, and, and. Um, I said to the, caretaker, Ah and I remember there was this huge potbellied stove right in the middle here, I was one of the little kids, we got to sit. He said no, there was no stove in the middle and I went - yeah, there was, there was. And then . . . the, the couple that was I with they said, look up. And in the ceiling there's that metal plate to show that that's where a chimney once went through. Pause. Yeah. So - fond memories.
02:05:02.000
02:05:02.000
VR
Except . . . I had trouble pronouncing the t-h for mother, father? And that's part of I think, learning English. And . . . and I quickly learned, because when it was my turn to read, and you had to stand up and read from, you know, Dick and Jane, and the teacher, was so frustrated with me, she, Laughs. she had a strap. And she would hold it like this and every time I mispronounced “mo-ther, fa-ther,” she'd, hit the strap on the desk and say, Say it again! And I, I quickly learned to say, “mother, father,” and. And I pronounced the words properly, because if I didn't, she'd slap the desk with the strap.
RS
Oh my goodness.
VR
But yeah . . . um -
RS
So did you . . . when you were very very, young, were you - first speaking Japanese, and then -
VR
Yeah.
RS
- okay.
VR
I learned English when I went to school.
RS
I see.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Okay. Yeah . . .
VR
And I told you the story about being vaccinated?
RS
Yes.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Yeah. Yeah . . . oh my goodness.
VR
Anyways. No, I, I, I love school. I know I, I love school. And then when we, moved to North Kamloops I remember walking into this building and it was, huge. I thought it was huge because it was much bigger than the one-room schoolhouse. And um, that was grade three, and in grade four, there was a federal election. And we had a really nice teacher. And she . . . decide to teach us how, elections operate and things? REALLY good idea, when I, you know, I think of teaching practices, that was smart. So she divided us into each of the main, federal, political parties. And, and, we just, she did it at randomly down, and we picked up thing. I was with the, Communist party. Laughs. Which probably - in those days, that would have been in the, early fifties, was not a very popular party to be part of. But anyways, I was. Part of the communist party. And, um. This other boy, who . . . throughout my elementary school days and high school days, we were always competing to be, top student. Anyways, he was - supposed to be the speaker, and I was supposed - and . . . he was - yeah, and one person, was chosen to be the, the candidate. And then there was a group. So we were a group. And, and I was chosen to be the campaign manager. And I thought, this is really good. So I remember talking to my father about, how do you do, because he was really interested in politics, and how, how, what does a campaign manager do, because that's my job. So he said this, this, this, this. And so . . . Laughs. one day, the campaign manager of another party and I thought, it'd be really smart, so we bought a chocolate bar, and we cut it into little pieces, and, we made little tags that said, vote, in my case the candidate's name was Mel. So, Vote Mel, and on, every kid's desk, I had, a piece of chocolate bar that said Vote Mel. And she had a different chocolate bar that said vote, whatever her candidate's name was? And I remember, the other, students got really angry, and they were angry, and they, “They can't do that! That's called bribing,” and I remember, thinking, oh gosh, now I'm in trouble. But the teacher saying, no, that's what, political parties do. And my father had actually said, that's okay, because that's what political parties do. Well - then, we held an in-class election. And I thought we did a great job, I helped make posters, and everything like that. Our party won. But it was the Communist Party. And when, the teacher announced the results, she burst into tears and ran out of the room. Laughs.
RS
Hmm.
VR
And - and I remember, all of us sitting there going, Gasp. what did we do wrong?
RS
Hmm.
VR
And then . . . I remember talking to my father and mother that night, and they had, my father saying well, you know the Communist party is not really good to be part of that. And I remember arguing and saying but, they were a political party, they were allowed to run. Why would the teacher cry?
RS
Hmm.
VR
Laughs. So there, and then. I think I was. I loved the school. Girls weren't allowed to play soccer. Pause.
RS
Mhm.
VR
So we used to steal the ba - the ball from the boys every so often if they weren't using it, and we'd play until we got into trouble. Um . . . yeah. I, I realize that I was probably, one of the quieter leaders, not one of the ones, right out in the front? Because, in grade six we got this teacher who we all, absolutely adored. And he was . . . we found out that he played the violin. And um . . . we wanted him to play the violin for us. Pause. But he, he kept saying no, no, no no . . . no, I forgot to bring my violin, that sort of thing, so one day, the bunch of us conspired and so one of the girls . . . had her bike at school and, at lunch hour, she rode home, and told his wife that he needed his vi - his violin, and she brought it back to the school, and so after lunch his violin was sitting on his desk. Laughs. And aside from the fact that we lied, to his wife Laughs. we thought we were pretty smart! Laughs.
02:10:06.000
02:10:06.000
RS
Mmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Hm.
VR
And then grade eight, um . . . there was no grade eight . . . there was no grade eight at that school, elementary school. So, I was bussed in to Kamloops. And I realize now, I realized years ago, that. I used to ride every day with a girl who was in grade, eleven or twelve, she was older, but I used to sit with her on the bus every day? Going back and forth, and she was going to go to university, and I remember asking her about university and she was telling me about what she was studying, and. She was showing me her notes that she was studying from, and stuff like that, and. She did go on to get her PhD eventually, Grace. I can't remember her last name. And, and just being fascinated with what she was studying, and I think that was all part of my, academic fascination. And then . . . no, that was grade seven. Cause grade six - and then grade eight, a brand new high school was built in North Kamloops. And I started there in grade eight. And, I was part of the, smart class. And then, I stayed there through nine, ten, eleven. And, one of the, one of my, yeah. So there, and then grade twelve I came down to Kits and I was placed in the class - that's what people did in those days, I was placed in the class of students who were, going to go to university.
RS
Hm.
VR
And just being blown away at - at the pressure, but loved it.
RS
Mhm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Hm. So rewinding a little bit then, um, do you remember, a change in, the community makeup or who your neighbours were when you went from, from Blind Bay, Notch Hill, Kamloops, and, um . . . maybe the differences, because you mentioned some specific people, you mention Mrs. McArthur, and then, you mentioned the, Singh family, as well. And so, what I was wondering, was, um . . . yeah, just the differences between, those communities.
VR
Well, Notch Hill, my immediate community would have been the Japanese Canadian families, right? I mean, that's Blind Bay. Notch Hill we moved in, and I've, got to tell you, I found out later that, Blind Bay was very British. Pause. I went to the reunion, did I tell you?
RS
Mhm.
VR
I went to the reunion for Blind Bay. Fascinating, it was fun. It was - I went with my cousin, it was SO GOOD. And there were all these families who were saying, oh we didn't know that, but it was, I was happy to go back. And, meet all these people that. Not many had lived there at the time of course, but, who were there - Notch Hill . . . there were TWO Japanese Canadian families, and the rest were . . . British. Um, a couple of Scandinavian names. Pause. Yeah. I think we were the only two . . . non-white, families, in, in, at that school. North Kamloops? There were a lot more, at - not, not a lot more. In our, classrooms. Maybe there'd be one or two other Japanese Canadians? Or, Asian Canadians, period. Pause. I don't even remember any Indo Canadians in, in that elementary school. But, my mother's aunt and uncle and cousins lived, on a huge ten-acre vegetable farm, and there were fourteen kids in that family. So, that was my social group, it was like party time all the time. And then, there were other Japanese Canadian families. That were there, and we sort of knew each other, right? So there were more. But, did we all socialize together? Not really. I mean, yes and no. Except for my, relatives. Kits? I told you I was, the only Asian female. Um . . . I think there were, other, Asian families, but not really, and then at UBC . . . not really, I don't really remember any. Which is why it was odd, when I - I actually ended up living in Norway for two and a half years. When I went there and then I came back. Which is why when . . . occasionally we would go to Japanese Canadian functions, you know with, my husband and, then, little, little daughter . . . I probably felt more out of place there, than in the Norwegian community where I'd been living and IMMERSED in for two and a half years. Because that's so monocultural, right? But to come here, and, and. Yeah. And then, in terms, of, Indo-Canadian families? Yeah. I had friends, in high school, with them.
02:14:55.000
02:14:55.000
RS
Mhm. Pause. Yeah. And um . . . we heard a little bit about some of the stories, um . . . um, specifically about your father, but. Um, during these years, um, following, relocation, so I guess . . . um, when your, parents were sort of reunited, moving forward, um . . . what were your parents doing at that time? Um, I imagine there was a, like a change in the . . . uh, employment, and, and that sort of activity in, resettling. Um, and so. Yeah, just getting a sense of what sort of, uh, changes were happening there, um, when they did move. Outside of Vancouver -
VR
When they moved from, Notch Hill to, Kamloops?
RS
Yeah, or even just, um . . . from, Vancouver. And then, you know what sort of, ways in which their lives changed and what they were doing at that time.
VR
Mm. If we could just backtrack, when we were in Kamloops, my father . . . started up his own little, trucking delivery business. One, one truck. And . . . he, he, met a lot of people, he had a contract, with . . . I think, super, it was a big grocery store, he used to deliver their groceries? I think he did that for two stores. And then he did other deliveries and stuff like that, so he met a lot of people. And he was, quite talkative, and. There was a, a Conservative party politician called Davey Fulton. And, my father used to deliver, groceries to him all the time, and they used to talk a lot. And my father . . . used to give credit to Davey Fulton for encouraging him to join these, groups like, the Li, start up the Lions Club, and to . . . get involved with the school board and things like that. You know, to become politically active, I guess is the word. And - for some reason or another, I guess they clicked, and um, my father used to say, Davey Fuller'd say, no you need to do that, you need to do this, to help your community, blah blah blah, so. All the more credit, to Davey Fulton, now. I, I don't know much about his career, but he, he's long since passed away. But it was nice to, it was nice to know that here was a man, who had power, who was willing to, encourage and mentor. He obviously some, saw something in my father that was, worth mentoring and encouraging. So my father had that delivery business, and then one of the contracts he had was with the um, oh gosh. It was a brewing company. Beer brewing company, he used to deliver for them. And, they really liked him, he. I think he had quite a good reputation in terms of, as a, as a business person. He also became good friends with the, then mayor of North Kamloops, a man called, Mr. Elsie. And HE encouraged my father, and, and, this man had a grocery store? And he used to encourage my father to do all kinds of things. And I think he was the one who encouraged him, and, I think he was the mayor when my father got that award. Um . . . then, when my father, wanted to move down here so I could go to university, the . . . the company that he used to, that he had a contract with, um . . . hooked him up with another company down here, so my father actually ended up, um, being a truck driver in, in Kam, in Vancouver. And he worked sometimes in the office. Pause. Yeah. My mother . . . when she was in Kamloops, she worked cleaning houses. Now and then. Not. And then she got a job, working for a travel agency. Part-time for a travel agency, and the man there. I can't remember his name now. Um, he really encouraged my mother. And, and, um . . . I think, it was nice, it was really good. So, that - that was good. And then, my father . . . and mother, when we were living in Not - um, Notch Hill, the man who owned the grocery store, Mr. White . . . became good friends with my mother and father. And then he had moved to Kamloops ahead of us moving to Kamloops. So, when we moved to Kamloops my mother, got a job, he ran a . . . a rooming, house, I guess you would call it. And, he gave my mother a job cleaning the rooms there. And his, Mr. White's . . . brother or brother-in-law or something or other, owned a big hotel, in, uh, Kamloops. And so that man . . . used to talk to my father and mother a lot, and they became friends, and, again, that whole thing, encouraging my father, and, not just encouraging but giving confidence and giving, networks and inroads into, another community, right? And then when we came to Vancouver . . . my parents . . . probably spent, most of their, time and energy, my mother worked in an office, full time, she did really really well, and the . . . um, it was Northland Navigation she worked for. And the man who, owned that company, was VERY good to his employees. Including my mother.
02:20:13.000
02:20:13.000
VR
And, so my mother made really good friends with some of the people that she worked with in the office. And, and, the um, man who owned the company. He used to um, take whole families out and go, um, go for a, boat ride, in the summer, and we'd have a picnic laid out for us, and stuff like that. And my father, the company he worked for here, they were very good to him too, and. And encouraged my father and actually had him working in the office for a while and they recognized he had those skills. So, yeah, when I, think about it, it's that power of networking and uh, encouraging, and, Laughs. influence, isn't it?
RS
Mhm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Mhm.
VR
And at the same time, recognizing the people that, would not only, welcome your help but . . . move on with it. Do something with it.
RS
Mhm. Hmm. That's interesting. That's interesting that the . . . there were some . . . of course there was uh . . . there were, probably challenges and, you know, finding your, feet again,
VR
Yeah.
RS
Um, however, um, some of those, skills and activities, remain from, you know the, Vancouver years.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Moving forward and then, or was developed over time. Yeah, that's, that's really interesting.
VR
Yeah, certainly there were, certainly there were, challenges I mean, money was tight. We didn't have a whole lot of money. But . . . I can honestly say I, I never remember a time when . . . it was talked about openly, and that. But I realize that my mother, was quite creative in her cooking, and, we ate well. We always had, a vegetable garden. Um . . . yeah. And, there was always the sharing of food. Yeah, when I think about it.
RS
Hmm. So now um . . . fast tracking in time, whether . . . um, you learn from your family or, perhaps even from uh, some of the research, um, being done, but. Um . . . you mentioned that you, with your parents were able to see..um, later in time, where they lived, and. Um, pointed out the homes, and you were a little bit curious along with your sister, Laughs. you know moving forward to, to see those, places and knock on the door. Um, but did they ever learn, about what happened to their homes, or . . . you know, realize who, who had lived there, um, afterwards? Was there any sort of, um . . . I guess, um . . . because some people, they have no idea what happened to their home, right, and it's just, um, especially if they, had gone somewhere outside of BC and didn't return?
VR
Mhm. Mhm.
RS
Um, so. Um, yeah, I was interested to know if, if that was something that they ever, learned themselves. Later in time. Pause.
VR
Now I think I shared with you all that I know, that.
RS
Okay.
VR
You know, about my parents fought um, my parents' parents' house, on McGill Street? And, my mothers', parents' house, at First and Maple. In Kits. Pause. I don't think they ever made, a concerted effort to learn any more.
RS
Mhm.
VR
I don't know why. I mean it, we could speculate, but I - I don't know why.
RS
Mhm.
VR
I mean, certainly - I guess you could say they didn't dwell on the past. If there, if there were stories told, they were family stories, stories about, oh Vivian, and you did this, and. And we did this, and. And we went swimming here, and things like that. But I don't, remember stories, of sitting around, oh woe is us. Kind of things.
RS
Mm. Hmm.
VR
I mean, maybe they did that privately, but.
RS
Mhm.
VR
I, wasn't privy to it. And I, like I said a lot of these things I found out, later. You know, my late teen years or as an adult. When I became curious. Yeah.
RS
Yeah. Yeah. Just interested to know because, um. Yeah, yeah, I mean, I think with, over a certain . . . um, you know, passage of time, across generations, curiosity becomes sort of a natural thing?
VR
I think so, yeah.
RS
Um, however . . . yeah, I just wonder if you know, the . . . there would have been some of that, wonder, you know . . . um, whether it was nega-negative, or just . . . I don't want to say negative, but. Um, just wanting to know. Yeah.
VR
The only, the only incident, of. What now has a, a word, call racism. . .
RS
Mhm.
02:24:52.000
02:24:52.000
VR
But. Was when I was . . . fourteen, maybe thirteen or fourteen? I was in Brownies, and then I was in Girl Guides. And every year, the Girl Guides marched in the, um, parade up to the cenotaph. On Remembrance Day. Pause, quieter. How old was I? I was a Guide - maybe thirteen. Um, and every year, the oldest, of the Girl Guides, got to. Carry the flag. And I remember, two of my friends, they were the same age as me, they got to march with the - I must have been fourteen. And then, when I figured it was my turn, because I was now the, oldest one and, hadn't carried the flag, it was announced at a Girl Guide meeting that, so and so so and so would, be the flag bearer. And I remember thinking . . . me! It's my turn! And being, really disappointed, because I was looking forward to it. And I remember telling my mother and father that, soandso soandso was chosen to, be the flag bearer - what about me? She forgot that it's my turn, that I haven't had my turn yet. Pause. And I don't remember any, great reaction out of my parents. But. I remember, the Girl Guide leader coming to the house, I think a couple of days later, and having this, talk with my parents, and my sisters and I were sent outside, while they had this talk. Speculation now, I'm sure she came to talk about that. Because - now that I, realize who my father was, he probably phoned her and said hey, Laughs. what's going on here? And, then, I remember, a couple of days after that . . . just before the next Girl Guide meeting, I don't know how often we met . . . I remember my father saying, um, Fu? That's my Japanese name, right, I always knew he was SERIOUS when he, called me by my, Japanese name. “Fumi?” “Hm?” Pause. “Yes. You are going to be the flag bearer.” And I remember going, “Yay!” Laughs. And, he said, it's a very special honour, and, um, I will teach you how you're supposed to carry the flag and everything. And I remember saying, well that's okay, because, the Girl Guide leader teaches us. And he said okay, you listen to her, but I hustle-hup. Laughs. So anyways. At the next meeting, it was announced Vivian was going to be leader, and she showed me, I had that belt, with the little, spot where the . . . um, stick goes in, and you, hold it there against you and you have to go like this. And so I remember my father, saying to me, okay, when you do this, this is what you do, and I said, well don't worry - you, I get a belt, and I put it in there, and I just hold it like this. And he said, yes you do. But, when you get close to the cenotaph, you take it out of there, straight-arm it, hold it like this. It's going to be heavy, and it's going to be hard, but you have to use all your strength, and carry it straight like this, because that is a real pro-you know, a matter of honour. And that's how you. So I remember Laughs. he said, just before you get to the cenotaph, so I remember, it was windy. And I remember, marching and feeling, EXTREMELY proud that I got to, carry this flag, and then just before I got towards the cenotaph, I just happened to look and I saw my parents and my father went -Making a gesture of some kind.- like this? And I held it up, I thought my arms were going to break, because it was SO windy. And, I wasn't very big. But I carried this, HUGE flag. And I walked like this, and then, you know, the part where you put it in the thing. I thought my arms were going to kill me. Honestly. And . . . and I remember my father saying, you carried it with honour, lalala. Not realizing what had happened in the background of all of this, but what had happened, my father and mother told me, in later years, that the, legion had complained, that I had no right to carry that flag because I was Japanese. And I guess there was a great, hoo-hah about it. And the Girl Guide leader had actually taken up, my side. To say, she's Canadian. Her parents are Canadian. Whatever happened in Japan, didn't happen in Canada. This is a, a Canadian girl. Third generation. It's her turn to carry the flag. So I gather that even within the legion there was, dissension, but. Now I understand why my father had me carry the flag - in a, and, “Stand up straight, and your shoulders, and you practice your good posture, and you do this, and - and then when you put it down, you stand there, and you, just stand for a split second of silence,” I still remember that.
RS
Hmm.
VR
But yeah.
RS
This um . . . did the idea of, um . . . change, maybe, is reminding me about, um, when you mentioned, the redress. Um, and one thing I was interested in, and this is one of my very last questions, so, we can take a break soon, Laughs. or stop soon, because it's been a while! Um, was just, what you remember of that time, um, and uh . . . if you remember, you know the, if there were any, sort of, um, I guess reactions, uh, at home, or what the, opinions, were at that time within your family, but also, like, within yourself?
02:30:06.000
02:30:06.000
VR
About - ?
RS
Just the Redress, and -
VR
About the Redress?
RS
Yeah, the apology, and, uh, that point of time in the, in the 80s or, 90s.
VR
My parents were very involved with Roy Miki.
RS
Yes.
VR
Roy Miki was, one of our neighbours. He just lived a block away from my parents. And um . . . my parents were, in their way, very involved. My mother actually went to Ottawa, to march in that parade. And, because my uncle Bill, her brother, was one of the people who worked with Art Miki. So they were very involved, and so when I had a chance to join in the, the meetings at Roy's house, I was very much encouraged to, to do so. Um . . . it, it was interesting because, my sister and I were both born, between that, you know, the beginning and the end up until '49? My sis-my youngest sister was born after, the - after the, timeline cutoff. So technically she didn't apply. She didn't - um, she wasn't entitled to, that money. Um, my parents both got money. And I remember . . . my sister and I saying to each other that we would share our money with my, sister? My youngest sister? And my father and mother, said - no, that, that was very nice, but they said that they would be giving, you know, their money, to my sister, so she would end up with an equal amount. And I remember, talking about it, and. Bjorn was there with me, and. Talking with, our parents, and they said, “Take it, with acceptance, and know that . . . that is money that we would have been able to give to you if we had managed to complete our education. So that you - it would make life easier for you as our children. And to please share with, your children.” So it was - it wasn't the case like, “woo hoo! We got a whole lot of money,” it was a case of, this is why it's there, use it responsibly.
RS
Hmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
So there was, quite an, an open discussion and, an understanding.
VR
Yeah.
RS
About it.
VR
Yeah, yeah.
RS
Okay.
VR
Especially with my mother going to Ottawa. I was so proud of my mother! She's not one to go to parades and stuff like that, but she went. Laughs.
RS
Hmm.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Mhm. Okay. And now um . . . I think, moving forward and, um, thinking about these questions, about . . . you know, and the ways that we can use the oral histories to pass on, um, education, and also just, um, lessons to other Canadians and, generations, um . . . we've got a good sense that you're a, a teacher, and a lifelong learner, and. You've used your influence in many different ways, um, and so I ask you one more time, to sort of think about that, and, um, think about what you think is the best way to pass on this message to, other Canadians? And also to, younger generations who, perhaps aren't as familiar with the history? Um, of the Japanese Canadian community? Uh, and . . . yeah, I just, if you could pass on a message to them, what would it be? Pause.
VR
The um, Japanese Canadian community is a small community within Canada. Small in numbers. And the intermarriage rate of, Japanese Canadians to non-Japanese Canadians is, well over ninety percent. Pause. I think, because of the trauma of, incarceration . . . and we can't forget the 4000 people who got sent to Japan, I mean that was a, another horrible story there . . . people were scattered. The community was - the communities were . . . completely torn apart. People did what they could to survive, I think, the lesson that has to come through is that whole idea of, the power of families, and, the wonderful, families that, the family that, I grew up in. Passing on the message, I think . . . it's easy to say, oh yeah, I think, one of my grandmothers was Japanese Canadian. It's, it's, it's HISTORY. It's CANADIAN history. It's not just the story of the Japanese Canadian, it's a story of a community that had, um, problems. First of all, I think, it's really important to tell the story, and my wish is that . . . there are so many people within our Japanese Canadian community who are, wonderful people, accomplished people, who have so much to give. It would be great if we could all somehow work together. To support each other, because we're all sort of part of the same community.
02:35:05.000
02:35:05.000
RS
But in terms of passing on the message . . . it's important because I think, the message that, I am trying to get across is, this is the history of Canada, this is something that happened, it's not just the Japanese Canadians. It's applicable to any group. I also believe strongly that, um, from my years of being a teacher that, for years the history that was taught in schools was the history of people from across the Atlantic. We're forgetting the people from Asia and the people from South America. Um . . . it's, it's important. I think we all need - we're multicultural, we're diverse . . . the reason why there's the hyphenated name, it's, it's, pride in our cultural heritage. And pride in our cultural heritage means, pride in my heritage and I respect the pride in your heritage, that we share this sort of thing. I think it's that whole thing of, we need to get this across to the general public so they understand, what happened. And the fact that, governments can make promises, and break promises, and this is what happens. I think it's also a story of resilience, and how you bounce back, or, how you hurdle it. I also, going back to that intermarriage rate, and the size of our community, I also think it's really important for anybody of Japanese Canadian ancestry . . . to know their history, because it's a history of their ancestors. And . . . how do we best get it across? Influence, and - often it's just, one conversation at a time? Um, cooperation with other groups. Working in a spirit of respect and cooperation, and not of stridency and anger. Pause. I - I'm not sure if I'm answering this properly. Education is always the answer. And - and I don't mean, formal courses in schools, because I'm not sure that that's always the best way to get a message across in history. But if we could all - within the Japanese Canadian community, take pride in, in, accomplishments and, pride in who we are and who we were and who we're going to become, I think, and if we could pass that on to our own families, and then, they could pass it on, it's, that's the important part. Landscapes is good, because I think . . . it's academic credibility. And . . . I would like to see Landscapes work really closely with the, with EVERYONE within the Japanese Canadian - if everybody works together, we - we all want the same thing. And I know um, I've had a couple of conversations with people who talk about, Landscapes and the answer is, Yes, we need it to succeed, we want it to succeed because, this is the credibility to our, history. And this is the, research that . . . most people can't do. Yeah.
VR
Hmm. Oh, yeah. And um . . . so, I'm, all out of - not out of questions, but I think that's, you know, a good place to start to, to wrap up, just because. Yeah, you've given me a lot of your time and a lot of your stories! Um, but I also want to give you the opportunity . . . um, to maybe, share anything that I, forgot to ask you, that maybe you had mentioned in passing before? Um, before we turn the recorder on. Or maybe if there was a story, um, that you wanted to share, that didn't necessarily come from the questions that I noted down today. Pause. I don't think so. I think - I, I like to think of this as, Canadian history. Japanese Canadian history. Um . . . I'm very proud of the fact that my grandparents came from Japan, but I'm also extremely proud of the fact that . . . of what they did when they were here, and my parents, what they've done, and. I'd like to pass that on to my children to . . . have . . . I want them to have a sense history and then, and in our family, Laughs. it's, Norwegian history and Japanese history, Laughs. really. Pause. Yeah. But, I think most of all, I think it's that whole thing of um, I want them to have curiosity. I want them to keep learning. Pause. Yeah. And thank you, to people like you for, taking part in this project and uh, and the stories you tell about some of the others who are continuing on and I remember, I think it was Will who said, I've got to, I learned all this stuff and I wish I could continue on, and I, hearing from what you're saying and from the people that I've met - Mikayla going to Japan, and learned Japanese so she could study more here and things like that, that to me is exciting. Just as exciting as everything else, and people going into the research archives, and FINDING all these things.
02:40:01.000
02:40:01.000
VR
So I look forward to . . . Phase Two, I look forward to the dissemination. Is it going to be easy? No. I think we're going to, as a community council, run into some ethical questions. Um, the BIG question, that's hanging over us from the last institute is . . . yes, everybody will put out their stories, their films, their papers, their talks, their books, whatever. Pause. The concern is - the, not the concern. And everybody has the right. To do that. Absolutely. But the concern that I have is, I hope it tells the whole story, in a context. Because you can do a lot of damage if you don't. And sometimes you don't know the context, until you . . . know the context. Until you ask somebody.
RS
Mhm.
VR
That's in the community.
RS
Mhm.
VR
So . . . if someone just, you know, picks up one little bit of it, and runs with it, it, it's hard. Because there's a whole community, there are people involved in this. And, anytime you're collecting stories, retelling stories, using stories, there are, just please remember that there's always, people, attached to that.
RS
Mmm.
VR
It's like, when I was a teacher and every so often, you know, racism, and, there was a period there where, it was, the Indo Canadian families that would And uh . . . and I remember . . . saying, anytime anybody, starts slamming any group, ANY group . . . I see, little children's faces in front of me. And I say, don't, please don't. These kids are innocent. They just happen to be born that way, same as I just happened to be born the way I am. And uh . . . and so always remember that these are PEOPLE that you're talking about.
RS
Mhm.
VR
And people's stories and lives that, that are being sent out there.
RS
Mhm.
VR
And . . . is it going to cause a bit of angst, or some . . . “oh my gosh,” stories? Laughs. Or, I mean, reactions? Probably, but. It needs to be done. Yeah.
RS
Well, speaking from an RA's perspective, speaking from somebody who, has the . . . privilege of learning from, Community Council . . . um, I think I speak for a lot of, RAs Laughs. on the project where, you know, we want to thank you as well because, um, these . . . these sort of lessons, and these, um . . . threads of conversation, have helped us with our research, and, um, have helped us, do our jobs in a way, um, in which we feel like we're contributing to something bigger than just our, our summer position. . .
VR
Mm. Mhm.
RS
Or our, year position, two years, whatever it might be, so, um, you know, you're thanking us but we, we also, thank you and, um . . . I feel very, privileged to be able, to be the one to record, you know your life story and also, your, your family stories, so.
VR
Thank you. But we learn from each other!
RS
Yeah!
VR
And, and the good thing for me is that, I had to do a lot of thinking. And uh, reflecting.
RS
Mhm.
VR
And uh . . . pulling things together and going, “Oh, oh, okay,” yeah.
RS
Mhm.
VR
So it's good!
RS
Yeah. Laughs. And uh - yeah, and I'm sure that there's uh, for somebody listening to, to this interview, or reading the transcript in, in the future . . . um, there will be a lot, um, for them to think about too, and so it's nice that this all feeds into a longer conversation.
VR
Mhm, mhm.
RS
That will go - you know, years beyond the project.
VR
And hopefully, lead to more questions on their part.
RS
Yeah.
VR
And more learning on their part.
RS
Exactly.
VR
Yeah.
RS
Yeah.
VR
Now, you had mentioned -
RS
Should I turn it off?
VR
Yeah.
RS
Okay. We'll continue.
02:44:02.000

Metadata

Title

Vivian Rygnestad, interviewed by Rebeca Salas, 27 August 2017 (1 of 2)

Abstract

Vivian shares stories of her family, from her grandparents on both sides immigrating to Canada, to her parents growing up in Vancouver, and her own childhood in Blind Bay, Notch Hill, and Kamloops, BC. Vivian's family moved to Vancouver and she attended UBC, and then spent some years in Norway before returning to Canada to begin her teaching career. She reflects on her lifelong love of education and academia, and how this is connected to her involvement with the Landscapes of Injustice community council. Through Landscapes of Injustice, Vivian discovered that her father, Tadao Wakabayashi, was part of a legal test case against the property sale in the 1940s, which is now a point of pride for her and is consistent with her memories of his values and way of being.

Credits

Interviewer: Rebeca Salas
Interviewee: Vivian Rygnestad
Transcriber: Carolyn Nakagawa
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Richmond
Keywords: Sansei; Blind Bay; Notch Hill; Kamloops; Kitsilano ; Norway; education; academia; intergenerational; Landscapes of Injustice ; Community Council; 1897-present; especially 1930s-1960s

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.