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A place for memory, history and community : a study of identity at the Vancouver Japanese Language School Anzenavs, Lori Kathleen Ann 2001

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A PLACE FOR M E M O R Y , HISTORY AND COMMUNITY: A STUDY OF IDENTITY A T T H E VANCOUVER JAPANESE LANGUAGE S C H O O L by Lori Kathleen Ann Anzenavs B.A. University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, 1998 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT O F THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Department of Anthropology and Sociology) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 2001 © Lori Kathleen Ann Anzenavs, 2001 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Anthropology and Sociology The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Abstract This study discusses the influence of history on identity for those who are involved with the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall (also know as the VJLS). The historical significance of a recognized landmark such as the VJLS creates a unique atmosphere that allows the past to be very much part of the present. In addition to many types of commemoration, memory and imagination provide links to the past. The community at the VJLS was very diverse including both recent immigrants and those with family connections to the Internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. As a result, the feeling of a connection to the past was discussed in many different ways. These discussions are used in this study to explore the question of what it means to be Japanese Canadian and to be Canadian. At the VJLS, the history of Japanese Canadians is shown to belong to all Canadians rather than just to a separate ethic group within Canada. ii Table of Contents Abstract n Table of Contents »i Acknowledgments ' v Introduction 1 Background to the VJLS 7 Methods 8 Whose School, Whose History? 11 The Urban Landscape and the VJLS 18 Grounded Memory and Historical Imagination 21 Connections to the Past: The Idea of 'Rupture' 29 Conclusions: Revising the Question "Whose History' 35 Bibliography 37 Appendix 1 41 iii Acknowledgments I would first like to thank the staff, students, parents and volunteers at the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall for participating in this project. I would also like to thank Mayumi Ueno, for helping me to become more involved with the daily activities of the school and for her continued support throughout my study. I am also grateful to the Mennonite Central Committee and the National Association of Japanese Canadians for their financial support through the Canadian Japanese Mennonite Scholarship. I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Millie Creighton, who was kind enough to help me with this thesis during her sabbatical, as well as before and after, and Dr. Alexia Bloch for her continued support and feedback during the process of this thesis. iv Introduction The Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall (also known as the VJLS) is an example of a place where many different issues surrounding identity and commemoration come together. As a building of historical significance that has been designated a heritage building by the City of Vancouver, the VJLS is the site of many forms of commemoration. This situation provides an occasion to discuss many of the reasons for remembering in this way. Furthermore, memories have become attached to this physical location. It is these grounded memories that play a role in the way the past was remembered and imagined by those at the VJLS. Together these ties to the past influenced the identity of those who participated at the VJLS. However, there was a diverse group of people at the VJLS, including both recent immigrants and those with family connections to the Internment. As a result of this diversity, these issues were discussed in a variety of ways. The VJLS is a non-profit organization that has been located on the east side of downtown Vancouver since 1906. The school teaches the Japanese language to students from pre-school through high school, as well as to adults. In addition to the language instruction, calligraphy and some cooking are also taught and the school has extra-curricular activities such as a drama club, and a parent's organization. In addition, the building is also used as a meeting place for other community activities not related to the school. Thus the building acts both as a school and a hall, as implied by its name. This institution is also the only public building that the community was able to gain back following World War n. As such, its significance to the Japanese Canadian community is far greater than simply a venue for school and community activities. The VJLS is important as a place, as something remaining from the pre-war Japanese district. Its importance as a site for memory is recognized through commemorations at the school, ranging from plaques to gatherings. The people at the VJLS make connections to this past in different ways, in ways that comment on issues of identity that are relevant to the Japanese Canadian community. 1 Walter's definition of a place as "not just an empty container but an active receptacle of shapes, powers, and feelings that energizes and nourishes the contents" (1988: 12), is especially applicable to the VJLS as a school in this context. At the VJLS there is more to learn than what is taught in the classroom. However, most of the literature on such ethnic language schools focuses on just the classroom. The curriculum is the most examined topic, along with studies on language use (Edwards 1988, Heller 1984, Moscow 1990, Xiao 1998). Moscow's study of Jewish day schools examines the ways in which various schools integrate both the transmission of culture and beliefs and the curriculum requirements of the larger American society. This study focuses on the approaches to teaching in dealing with these requirements. The resulting description is one of accommodation and acculturation at a curriculum level. In a similar way, Gibson describes these forces operating in the lives of public school students of South Asian descent (Gibson 1997, 1988). In a more broadly focused study, Xian examines how the Chinese language is maintained in Winnipeg. In his study the focus is on the shift in dominance of Mandarin or Cantonese and the situations in which each are used. In discussing the language school, the emphasis is more quantitative in nature, focusing on the number of language schools and the number of students. This study, like Edwards' work (1988), found only limited success in language maintenance and argues that schools alone cannot prevent language loss. However, in addition to language, there are other factors that contribute to ethnic group identity. For instance, these studies do not take into account institutional momentum, that community organizations maintain group cohesion by providing an opportunity for social activities, regardless of their stated purpose (Reitz 1980). My thesis focuses on these more social and extra-curricular activities. Most of the data collected for this study involved the exposure of the students to information outside of the classroom but still within the context of the VJLS. The focus is on the historical content of ethnic identity rather than the linguistic content. This in part reflects the 2 experience of Internment and the subsequent Redress Movement , which are distinctive to the Japanese Canadian community, whereas the language issues are relevant to various ethnic groups. An analysis of the curriculum was not part of this study, because neither the history of the VJLS, nor the Japanese Canadian community in Vancouver was taught in the classroom. However, utilizing methods of participant observation and interviewing to analyze individuals' reflections on history, provided opportunities to examine the content of what people knew about this past, the way they thought about it independent of being provided with an 'official' version, and how this influenced their identity. Among various positions on ethnic identity, there were two contrasting positions that were used most for this study. These are labeled in various ways, the primordialists versus the constructionists (Alonso 1994) or 'communities of culture' versus 'communities of interests' (Espiritu 1992). The primordialist or 'community of culture' argument focuses on essential characteristics of 'a people' for defining ethnic identity. The constructionists, or those advocating the 'community of interests' position, hold the opposite view that only when historical forces operate on the group do the 'essential characteristics' of the primordialists become important in defining ethnic identity (Commaroff and Commaroff 1992). Most studies incorporate these two different perspectives on the origins of ethnic identity in various ways. For the purposes of this study, Alonso provides a working definition of ethnic identity as, "a subjective belief in.. .common descent because of [subjectively perceived] similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration" (1994: 389). This definition attempts to bring in the historical forces that have caused a group to see itself as a group, but the focus of the definition is still on the subjective experience, since it is 1 This refers to the forced removal of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast and their confinement in detention camps by the Canadian Government during World War II and the subsequent movement calling for public acknowledgement of these wrong doings and compensation for these injustices. 3 often the case that many people feel it is the essential characteristics that define their ethnic identity. The results of this study at the VJLS reflect elements of both the 'essential characteristics' definition and the definition of ethnicity as the end result of historical forces. One of the defining features of the identity of Japanese Canadians has been the Internment and the subsequent Redress Movement (Miki and Kobayashi 1991). In addition, Makabe argues that there are no longer sufficient forces keeping the community together and as a result most Sansei or third generation Japanese Canadians prefer to identify themselves as 'Canadian' rather than 'Japanese Canadian'. At the VJLS there was some reference to these factors, but it was the 'essential characteristics' or the primordialist view that was primarily used to define what it meant to be Japanese Canadian. These issues are particularly relevant to the VJLS, given that the school is attended by both students who have a family connection to the Internment and students who are the children of immigrants or who are immigrants themselves. The meaning people attach to these issues does not divide neatly along generational lines, or according to other characteristics such as age, gender, length of time in Canada, or generational depth in Canada . One of the most important features of the VJLS for participants was the fact that it has ninety-six years of history in the same accessible location. This is an issue that is not dealt with thoroughly in much of the current literature dealing with place (Olwig and Hastrup 1997, Gupta and Ferguson 1997a, 1997b). These works deal with places remembered and imagined as constructed by people who are no longer in, or have access to, those places. In contrast, for places like the VJLS, Yi-Fu Tuan observes that, "if time is conceived as flow or movement then place is pause"(1974: 198). This is not to imply that time stands still, or nothing changes at the VJLS but rather that the VJLS provides a constant, a place to which people can return. As such, it provides a physical space where people can reflect upon the past. 4 At the VJLS, there are a variety of interpretations of the past. The school offerd no grand narrative of the past as it is relevant to the school, but rather allowed and supported different forms of commemoration to take place in and around the school. These ranged from plaques to gatherings. Since these different types of commemoration came from different sources, ranging from the City of Vancouver to former graduates themselves, it provided for a mix of experience and meaning. Bodnar contrasts the vernacular expression of memory, or what an experience feels like and the official expression of memory, which he feels highlights what people feel it should be like. These different types of expression of memory through commemoration, along with the fact that the VJLS is a school, provide a discursive field, as Sherman (1994) and Strunken (1997) discuss with reference to other monuments. It was based on these different traces that people constructed their own picture of history, a picture to which they could personally relate. It is through this personal connection to the past that both the issues of identity and issues of commemoration come together. Lowenthal sees the relationship between the past and identity this way, the past is integral to our sense of identity; 'the sureness of T was' is a necessary component of the sureness of T am'. Ability to recall and identify with our past gives existence meaning, purpose, and value (1986: 41). While Lowenthal is speaking of a personal past, something that can be directly known, we can also relate to events that took place outside of our direct experience through the fact that these events can continue to have an impact long after their immediate consequences. In terms of historical forces causing ethnic groups to form, then commemoration becomes a force in maintaining ethnic group solidarity. In the context of the VJLS, the way people who did not have a family connection to the Internment and the Redress Movement related to these events specifically and to the Japanese Canadian community more generally, has implications for constructions of identity. This history is seen to be a part of the Canadian experience and therefore Canadian identity rather than being limited to Japanese Canadian identity. The following sections present my research methods and ethnographic findings. The first section gives a basic chronological outline of the events in the history of the VJLS. As this is not intended as a history of the VJLS but rather an analysis of the ways people think about history and connect the past to their own identity, this is a very brief section designed to orient the reader to the VJLS. It is also not intended to provide the type of grand narrative that is not present at the VJLS. The second section deals with my research methods. This section is important in that it is through this section that I attempt to think about the way the research was conducted. Included are both theoretical concerns and the way things actually worked out. It is also an attempt to work through the difference between theory and experience. The third section begins the ethnographic account. It consists of four parts followed by the conclusion. It begins by explaining the way people discuss what it means to be Japanese Canadian. This part provides a background texture to the following account of the way people think about the history of the VJLS. In the remaining parts, these issues are discussed. The next part begins by discussing the way places function to maintain a city's past and the way the VJLS fits into the urban landscape. The following two parts include the way memory is grounded and the affect this has on the historical imagination and the feeling of connection to the past. The thesis concludes with accounts of how this history is situated in identity. Throughout these sections it is my aim to show the many contrasting positions that were presented during this study at the VJLS. 6 Background to the VJLS The Principal of the school told me that the history of Japanese Canadians in Canada is the history of the VJLS. This sentiment was echoed in articles published in The Bulletin; A Journal for and about the Nikkei Community. The VJLS first opened in 1906 in a wooden building at 439 Alexander Street. In 1907 the wooden structure was replaced by a brick building. During this time the VJLS was a day school, which followed the same curriculum as schools in Japan. It was not until 1922 that VJLS changed its focus to language education, which is the current focus of the school (Otsuka 1995). At the time the VJLS opened, the public school system in British Columbia was dealing with racist sentiments . Roy describes how segregation was proposed based on arguments of hygiene and competence in English but explains that the most prevalent argument at the time was a racial one that people of different 'races' should not mix (1989:26). While these proposals never became law, this does indicate the climate in Vancouver at the time the VJLS opened. The school continued to prosper. In order to accommodate the increasing number of students, the current location of the school at 475 Alexander Street was purchased and a new school building was completed in 1928. After the bombing of Pearl Harbour the school was forced to close in 1941. During World War E the school was maintained by the board of directors in exile (Greenaway 2000:20). It was leased to the Canadian Armed Forces from 1942 until 1947, and then it was rented to the Army Navy Department Store until 19523, at which time the VJLS reopened. However, in 1947 the VJLS was forced to sell the original half of the property, located at 439 Alexander Street, in order to pay absentee landlord expenses (Greenaway 2000:20). In 1992 the project to build a new school building was initiated. Unable 2 For a detailed discussion of racism in British Columbia, please see Patricia E. Roy A White Man's Province; British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1989). 7 to repurchase the property adjacent to the school on the west side that was sold in 1947, the school purchased the property adjacent to the school on the east side, and in 2000 opened the new school complex. The original 1928 building has been designated a heritage building by the City of Vancouver. The VJLS is the only public building belonging to the Japanese Canadian community that was not confiscated and sold by the B.C. Security Commission during World War LT, representing continuous ownership since it was founded, and the only remaining part of the pre-war Japanese district. Methods Most of the data for this study was collected over the period of seven months during which I volunteered at the VJLS. I decided to volunteer at the school for two reasons. The first reason was that I felt very out of place at the school with no purpose for being there except to do my research. This was of course my own feeling rather than that of those I met. Everyone at the school was very warm and welcoming towards me. I felt that by becoming more active at the school I would meet more people and get a general idea of the day-to-day activities at the school. The second reason I chose to volunteer was in hopes of giving something back to the school in return for their allowing me to write my thesis about the school. The debate surrounding collaborative research and the role of the participants in framing and directing research is very large. This topic takes on a greater importance in anthropology no doubt as a result of anthropology's historical association with colonialism. The starting point of this discussion is the belief that research should be done with the community rather than on the community. This discussion can take the form of abstract models and discussion of collaborative research (Nyden, et al. 1997, Banks and Mangan 1999) but it was discussion of how these issues were put into practice (Ames 1999, Cruikshank 1990) that had the most influence in directing my 3 This information is based on the time line presented in the Prospectus for the new complex, and decribed by Chihiro Otsuka in Remaking an Institution and Community: The Vancouver Japanese Language School After the War (MA Thesis, Department of History, University of British Columbia, 1995). 8 thinking for this project. With this as my starting point, I will explain how this consideration played out in my research. When I first asked the school's permission to focus my project on the VJLS I also asked if there were any research questions they would like me to investigate. At the time the principal said there were not but that she would keep that in mind as my project continued. As I began to learn more about the VJLS, which is a non-profit organization, I learned how much the school relied on the efforts of its volunteers. One refrain I heard over and over again from many different people was that the school could do so much more if they just had more volunteers. I felt that I could help the school in this way, so I began volunteering. The point of this is not to suggest that volunteering is a substitute for collaborative research or for the effort to include the participants in the framing and directing of the research but rather that in this particular situation, I could make a contribution to the community as a volunteer in addition to my potential contribution as a researcher. Volunteering also gave me the opportunity to meet people who were only involved with the VJLS in this capacity. The group of volunteers that I usually saw was primarily made up of students from Japan who were studying in Vancouver.4 Just at the time I began volunteering, the VJLS began setting up its new library. This was quite a large task that involved sorting and cataloguing all the books that had been donated to the library and the group of volunteers doing this came in several times a week. One of the main days the volunteers came in was Saturday. Saturday is one of the busiest days for the school, so this gave me the opportunity to meet many people outside the groups of volunteers I saw during the week. It also gave the people who wished to participate in my project the opportunity to find me. 4 For a detailed discussion of this point, see Keiko Koizumi Why Japanese Women Learn English in Vancouver, (MA Thesis, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia, 1999). 9 Participants were primarily recruited through speaking to the classes, including adult classes. I explained to the class who I was, what my project was about and what their participation would entail. To those who where interested, I gave questionnaires, and then if they were still interested I set up interviews. Letters were also distributed to the teachers and through the students to the parents. While it was more effective to speak directly with people and most people were recruited this way, I felt it was necessary to distribute the letters so that as many people as possible were given the opportunity to participate. The questionnaires were used to obtain general background information about people and general comments about their participation in the school and their reason for this participation. In addition, the questionnaires were used to give people an idea of the types of things I was investigating and some idea of what to expect from the interview. I also reviewed the school's newsletter The Gakko News, and the community publication, The Bulletin, to get an idea of the issues that surrounded the school. I then addressed these issues during the interviews and it is from the interviews that most of the data for the following thesis comes. In total twenty-five people were interviewed. During the time of my study, there was a diverse community at the VJLS. The school offered two streams of Japanese language instruction. One stream was geared towards beginning second language instruction, and the other stream was geared towards the more advanced students. According to the principal it used to be the case that the majority of students spoke Japanese at home and were therefore in the more advanced stream but that this trend had recently begun to change. At the time of my study, it was the case that the students in the second language stream were in the majority. The school also catered to those people who wished to improve their Japanese before taking the provincial exams, and therefore was attracting many people who were not of Japanese descent. As a result, the students ranged from students of Japanese descent, some representing the third and fourth generations of their family to attend this 10 school, to children of recent immigrants, to students who simply expressed an interest in the Japanese language. In addition some of the past graduates and their parents continued to remain active at the school. The majority of the teachers were from Japan, while others were of Japanese descent or non-Japanese who had studied Japanese at the university level. This study will focus on the texture of the experience and the views of those people involved with the school. As such this study does not aim to produce results that are statistically representative of the people who are involved with the VJLS but rather to describe a range of different views. This is in part a result of the fact that the sample of people I interviewed may not be statistically representative of the community. More women than men were willing to be interviewed and the interviews with women were more detailed. Also, as I was only learning Japanese myself, all of the interviews were conducted in English. This did affect the sample in that a few people who filled out questionnaires did not wish to be interviewed, citing their English language skills as the reason. However, I also did not see any obvious patterns in the responses that were attributable to categories such as gender and the number of generations in Canada but there were some differences based on age. Also, in addition to the responses that seemed common at the VJLS I have also included responses that seemed distinctive. It is my goal in this thesis to show the diversity in the way people at the VJLS think about these issues that was presented during this research. Whose School, Whose History? When I first began interviewing people about their thoughts and feelings towards the history of the school I was surprised by many people's insistence that they had nothing to offer. They would explain that while they did have some historical knowledge about the school, they were probably not representative of people at the school, or were not the best person to talk to about these issues. This is exemplified by comments from one mother, who had been active at the school since her now grown children began attending pre-school. She summed up her 11 experience at the school saying, "every time I come here I learn something, so for me it's a very good experience and I like the school, it's not my school but I'm very proud of this school". When I questioned her further as to why she did not feel it was her school she could not answer and finally said she would have to think about it. With the exception of the students, this sentiment, to a greater or lesser degree, seemed to be a common one. In part this represents the attempt by the people I worked with to understand my research project. Most people insisted that the best people to talk to were those people who had been students at the VJLS in the pre-war period or the descendants of these people, or those who had helped to rebuild the school in the post-war period. After I reassured them that my project was less a historical project and more about the different ways people think about history, most people were more willing to participate. However, I also feel this indicated that most people do not feel an automatic connection to the school's history and further this reflects differing ideas about what it means to be Japanese Canadian. This context in particular brings out many of the issues surrounding the spectrum of experience that is labeled Japanese Canadian. These issues include both issues relating to the Internment and the Redress Movement, as well as issues surrounding current immigration. Based on research interviews conducted between 1975 and 1976 Tomoko Makabe (1980) discussed the importance of the Internment to Japanese Canadian identity. She interviewed primarily Sansei, or third generation Japanese Canadians living in Toronto, all of whom had parents who had been interned during World War LI. At that time she did not find the Internment to be a significant factor in Japanese Canadian identity. Rather Makabe found that most Sansei preferred to identify themselves as Canadian rather than Japanese Canadian and did not have any particularly strong ties to community organizations. However, since the time of Makabe's first study the community had struggled for, and won Redress from the Canadian government. 12 Since Makabe's study was completed there is further evidence that the Internment period has since become more important in Japanese Canadian identity. Miki and Kobayashi (1991) discuss how the Redress movement began a resurgence of pride and self-awareness after it was revealed that the Military authorities and the RCMP did not consider the Japanese Canadians a threat to national security giving greater support to the view that the Internment was the result of racism. This began to reveal and change the shame and silence that was associated with the Internment, as was discussed in Makabe's study. However, in contrast to this evidence about the Redress movement, Makabe (1998) continues to argue that the Redress Movement did not have a great impact on the majority of Canadian Sansei. She argues that most people did not feel that it was their fight and therefore did not participate in the Redress Movement or form any new ties to Japanese Canadian community institutions. She also emphasizes that an increasing number of Sansei do not see themselves as Japanese Canadians and prefer to label themselves as simply Canadian. For Makabe, this has implications for the community. She sees a change in feeling between the Nisei, their parents' generation, and the Sansei. She states that while the Nisei felt it was their responsibility to maintain the community and organizations within the community, increasingly the Sansei do not feel this way. Makabe attributes this to two types of forces acting upon the community. Primarily, she sees this as a result of the Canadian government's post-war policy to disburse people of Japanese descent throughout the country. Secondly, she sees this as a result of lifestyle. The majority of Makabe's sample consisted of the middle class, professionals and other white-collar workers. Makabe illustrates that these people feel the Japanese Canadian community has little to offer them. These two different studies are not necessarily conflicting. Miki and Kobayashi (1991) focus on those people who were, or became, involved with the Redress Movement, while Makabe's (1998) study presents a larger cross section of people. Makabe found that most people 13 were not involved in community organizations and preferred to identify themselves simply as Canadian. However, this may represent a growing trend among Canadians rather than a feature unique to third generation Japanese Canadians. Statistics Canada reported in 2001 that fewer Canadians are participating in volunteer organizations than before. This suggests that there are forces drawing people away from community involvement. Nevertheless these findings are still relevant to this study of the VJLS for two reasons. The first reason this is relevant is that this trend of declining participation has also affected the VJLS. Many people who had been involved with the school for a long period of time confirm that fewer people were indeed volunteering and it was becoming increasingly difficult to recruit parents. In an interesting twist, those who joined the school since the new building was built commented on how many people volunteer and how actively the school was supported. This reflects a difference in point of reference. For those involved with the school for a long period of time, some for more than two decades, the decline in involvement was easy to see. For those new to the school, the school seemed very well supported and perhaps less in need of volunteers, resulting in less participation. The second reason this trend is relevant is that those people who did participate may be different from the majority of Sansei represented in Makabe's study. Makabe presents the majority of the Canadian Sansei as uninterested in participating in community organizations. In contrast, Sansei at the VJLS obviously did not follow this pattern since they were actively participating at the VJLS. Also, they did not follow the general pattern of Canadians in that most people who participated at the VJLS, beyond attending classes, also volunteered their time with other community organizations both within the Japanese Canadian community and outside. In addition, being involved with the VJLS may have continued to foster their interest and result in further participation including participating in other community organizations. This is in part due to institutional momentum, the idea that once people are involved they stay involved (Reitz 14 1980). A father who was still active in the school despite the fact that his son had graduated explained that he felt he should see to completion of the projects that were begun while his son was at the school. A mother, who was in the same situation, remarked that her conscience makes her continue to volunteer at the school. She could see work that needed to be done and so she felt that she should stay and do that work. This is not to suggest that it is only out of a sense of obligation that most people volunteer. Almost everyone I spoke with commented that they found volunteering a very rewarding experience. In particular, students spoke of how they sought out other opportunities to volunteer after they enjoyed their volunteer experience at the VJLS. So in the case of the VJLS, the institutional support and participation reinforces people's self-identification as Japanese Canadians and their community participation. In this way these Sansei are perhaps more like those described by Miki and Kobayashi (1991), and the majority of Sansei that are described by Makabe's study. These studies primarily focus on those who have connections to the Internment. However, at the VJLS the Sansei are not in the majority. A large number of the students are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. This raises other issues of what it means to be Japanese Canadian. Mia Tuan investigated the experience of Americans of Asian descent who were third generation or more. She discusses how they negotiate a position of being, "neither real American nor real Asian [original emphasis]" (1999: 105). Tuan's study is set in the recent context of increased immigration from Asia, she discusses how this has affected the identity of people who were born in the United States but are perceived as being outsiders by the 'white' community but are not perceived as being Asian enough by recent immigrants. This topic of being neither fully 'Japanese' nor fully 'Canadian' has appeared in The Bulletin, a community publication of the Japanese Canadian Citizen's Association. This publication's motto is "a journal for and about the Nikkei community", and is used as a forum for the circulation of ideas that are important to the community. In the article entitled "4 Twenty-something Japanese 15 Canadians discuss Generation Gaps, Ethnicity and Martians5" (Johnson 1994), the same topics are discussed by people whose parents emigrated from Japan. Thus the VJLS provides a unique opportunity to examine the content of what it means to be Japanese Canadian in the context of both the history of the Internment and current immigration to Canada. The VJLS also provides a site for considering how people across the spectrum relate to this history. Given this context, there are many differing views on the characteristics of being Japanese Canadian, reflecting a "community of culture" view. The two more visible characteristics are language and physical appearance. As a language school, language is naturally the more emphasized factor. For parents language was important for practical reasons. They would like their children to be able to communicate easily with family members who speak only Japanese or who are more comfortable speaking in Japanese. Other reasons parents frequently mentioned for sending children to the VJLS included reasons of economic advancement and enjoyment of another language and culture. In addition to the reason given by their parents, the students expressed different reasons for learning and maintaining their Japanese language skills. These reasons were more closely linked to their self-definition as being Japanese Canadian. One twelve year old student expressed both of these reasons when asked what was most important to him about attending the VJLS. He said, "its sort of the language more because if I can speak the language then I can speak with people in Japan when I go and it also ties me in more with my ancestors, and the way they lived...". Another student expressed the feeling that by maintaining her language skills she could always keep her Japanese side with her. Physical appearance was another frequently mentioned characteristic of being Japanese Canadian, and the one characteristic that presented the most varied opinions. This issue was 5 This term is used to suggest that these issues should be examined from an outsider's perspective and without any cultural context, as if the person looking at these issues was a Martian. 16 presented in many different ways. This contrasts to Mia Tuan's work, in which she focuses on people's resistance to being classified as Asian rather than as American, based on appearance. While this was an issue for some, it certainly was not an issue for everyone. One mother expressed her dissatisfaction with other Sansei who did not want to learn Japanese because they considered themselves Canadian. Her response to these people was, "but you look like a Japanese". She expressed the opinion that by insisting that you are only Canadian you are missing part of your heritage, while others, such as those described by Tuan, felt that such a view was a denial that people of Asian descent are true Canadians. This mother was not alone in this interpretation. A third generation student commented that he was happy when people asked him if he was Japanese. He explained that with the large Chinese community in Vancouver, he was happy that people would think there were also people of Japanese descent living in Vancouver, or outside Japan for that matter. For other students the problem was that they were not immediately identified as Japanese Canadian. One student strongly insisted to me that she was Japanese Canadian even though she did not look it. While yet another student who had immigrated to Canada as a young child also felt that she was perceived by her school friends to be Canadian rather than Japanese Canadian because she felt they did not get a sense of Japanese culture from her. In this context most people recognized that they were viewed differently by different groups of people but they all seemed very comfortable with their own self definitions and less troubled by the definitions of others. In contrast to Tuan's findings, most people I spoke with at the VJLS felt it was their choice to decide what definition best fit them and they felt this definition would, for the most part, be accepted. While language and physical appearance were the most visible characteristics, people also spoke of other characteristics that were equally important. These characteristics included their ideas and behaviour. A volunteer at the school commented to me that she thought like a 17 Japanese person, but because she had decided to become a citizen of Canada, she was therefore Japanese Canadian. Another student expressed her feelings in this way, I call myself a Japanese Canadian because I am both, I was born in Japan but I've grown up in Canada I grew up with all the Canadian ways of doing things, and Japan and Canada are very different so even though I have that side of me that is Japanese there is always the Western side of me, and I don't know which one I would sort of lean towards [since] I am in the middle. This passage also identifies that in addition to these characteristics there must also be an attachment of meaning to these characteristics. Tuan found this in her study as well and summarized it writing, "uniquely Chinese-American, Japanese-American and even Asian-American cultures have developed in this country and it is within these hyphenated spaces where their true authenticity lies" 6 (1999: 106). However, this hyphenated space does not have the same content for everyone, as people attach varying degrees of significance to the characteristics that are associated with being Japanese Canadian. Given these different ways of relating to being Japanese Canadian, it is not surprising that people relate to the school's past in many different ways. Everyone at the school, with the exception of the younger students, had some historical knowledge about the way in which World War II affected Vancouver. Also everyone at the VJLS agreed that the school should be preserved in some way. However, people think about these issues in different ways, with these issues taking on different levels of meaning and significance. The Urban Landscape and the V J L S After discussing the history of the school in his address at the Grand Opening Ceremony for the new school building addition in June of 2000, the Chair of the School's Board of Directors said, "This is not a monument, this is a place for interaction, this is a place for gathering. This is a place for expressing yourself, and this is a place for each and every one of 6 It was formerly the convention to hyphenate such terms. Increasingly the convention is not to use the hyphen and it is this convention that I have followed in this paper. 18 you". This statement served as a reminder that although the school has a long and important history, the VJLS is not something that belongs solely to the past. This sentiment is also visible in the architecture of the new building. Architectural features of the 1928 building are incorporated into the modern looking building completed in 2000. Also, the location chosen for the new building, adjacent to the site of the 1928 building, reflects a respect for the past and hopes for the future; it demonstrates a commitment to remain part of the landscape of the east side of downtown Vancouver. The urban landscape can appeal to the past in many different, and sometimes contradictory ways. Old buildings are preserved for their architectural value or their historical significance, and monuments and memorials commemorate and remember past events and people. Some monuments and memorials can bring a unity across states, either unintentionally or as a result of an intentional plan. In discussing the former Soviet Union, Warner (1991) comments that the government deliberately attempted to use monuments and urban planning as a way of promoting unity across the large state. This unity was reflected in the similar if not identical monuments and street names that every city and town had; such that, no matter where one traveled there was always a feeling of familiarity. Certain Civil War memorials in the United States and certain World War I memorials in France exemplify how unity can be created unintentionally. Bondar (1994) explains that following the American Civil War many towns wished to commemorate their involvement, but working within a limited budget, ordered their monuments from catalogues. Thus, many towns that had been on opposite sides of the conflict commemorated their local participation in recognizably similar ways. Sherman (1994) also discusses a similar phenomenon occurring in France after World War I. In both these cases, the primary focus of these memorials was to remember the local experience. Whether intentionally, as in the case of the Soviet Union, or unintentionally as in the above mentioned particular cases in the United States and France, a sense of national unity was created through commemoration. 19 The local individuals and events that were commemorated were easily recognized as part of the larger national events. However, by commemorating local individuals and events these monuments also helped to foster a unique identity for the town or city where they were erected, as well as a national unity. The preservation of architectural features follows a similar logic. To some extent architectural styles or trends, particularly those that represent the styles that were used at the time of the city's construction or at the height of its economic power, can be preserved in a city. However it is more likely that cities preserve those architectural features that are particularly unusual or particularly unique to the city. Lowental argues this point stating that, "national identity requires both having a heritage and thinking it unique. It is heritage that differentiates us; we treasure what most sets us apart"(1994: 47). This is exactly the reason why the City of Vancouver began to preserve its unique architecture. The City of Vancouver began preserving landmark buildings in 1974. According to Rhonda Fleming's report to the Heritage Advisory Committee (1982), after eight years in place, the process of preserving landmark buildings was not accomplishing its goal as well as had been planned and there was an attempt to improve the process. The goal was to implement the program in time for Vancouver's Centennial in 1986. According to this document, in order to gain wider support the goals of the project were made more explicit. These goals were wide ranging and included aesthetic reasons, economic reasons and reasons of identity. The underlying reason for preserving these buildings was to, "provide continuity and a sense of security from rapid change"(1982: 3). This reason was further expanded as follows, Most new buildings in cities across Canada are so similar that they could be found in any of our cities: it is the old buildings that give each city its identity. A streetscape in Halifax could not be confused with one in Regina; a streetscape in Ottawa is not at all like one in Vancouver. A City's built environment defines its citizen's sense of community. Older buildings and heritage areas are often the most readily identifiable characteristic 20 of a particular city and thus define amongst its citizens a shared sense of belonging to a unique place. Cities without reminders of their architectural history are usually considered bland and without 'character' (Fleming 1984: 4). She went on to add that buildings also represent the social landscape of Vancouver, noting that at the turn of the century, "the West End was 'the' residential area"(1982: 4). These reasons do not represent solely a government perspective, as this perspective was also voiced by people at the VJLS. This document prepared for the Heritage Advisory Committee proposes a unified idea of 'the city', a unity that is based on the unique diversity of Vancouver. It is no longer the case that the buildings and houses in the West End represent simply the heritage of the wealthy in Vancouver, or that the building housing the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall represents simply the heritage of the Japanese Canadian community. Instead, these buildings represent the heritage of all the people of Vancouver. This unity is reflected in the historical plaques that all follow the same visual format but tell the unique stories associated with each building, explaining why it has been designated a heritage site. The designation as a heritage building was greatly appreciated at the VJLS. It is felt that this represents a recognition of the. importance of the history of the building for the City of Vancouver and a justification of the school's continuing presence on the east side of downtown Vancouver. They are also not alone in this sentiment. This idea was further reinforced by Senator Ray Perrault in his speech at the Grand Opening Ceremony of the new building in June of 2000, when he said, "in a sense the school belongs to every Canadian". Grounded Memory and Historical Imagination For most people at the VJLS, the commitment to the school's physical building and location incorporated the City's reasons and went beyond this. One of the primary reasons for remaining in the east side of downtown Vancouver was that this was the site of the Powell Street community, the pre-war Japanese district. The VJLS was one of the central sites for that 21 community. Every summer the school continues to receive senior citizens who make pilgrimages to Vancouver and the areas in which they grew up. Many of them have not been back to Vancouver since they were forced to leave for the Internment camps in 1942. It is in part for these people that the location of the school is being maintained. A teacher described the emotional experience of meeting one of these senior citizens. Three years ago these adult grandchildren put up money for their grandmother to come here. Al l of them live in California and of course grandchildren means almost always mixed blood, but all these people so warmly supported this grandma. [They] sent her over here and not only sent her.. .but two grandchildren accompanied her all the way up here. One day they showed up at this school and it was so moving. They took lots of pictures. So once I experienced that kind of old memories involved, human stories, I thought, "Yah, we have quite a good reason to stay here" It is in part through a responsibility to the former students that the school is maintained at its historic location. The people at the VJLS felt responsible to these people to keep a space for them to remember. Sherman (1994) and Strunken (1997) claim that monuments create a discursive field where resolution can be worked out; the same can be said of the VJLS. In addition to maintaining the VJLS at its current location, where people can visit the school as a way of working out their relationship with the past, it is also significant that the VJLS is a school. While the curriculum covers only language and culture, the students are nevertheless exposed to the history of the school. Whether or not the students should learn about this history as part of the curriculum is an interesting topic for most people. For most people, the Internment period is the first thing that comes to mind when the topic of the school's history is discussed. Some of the teachers wanted to see the history of the VJLS incorporated as part of the curriculum. One teacher expressed the wish to show students that war is complicated and that it is not as easy as one side is good and the other side is bad. She also expressed concern that the students not hate Canadians because of their decision to intern Japanese Canadians, but rather hate war itself. 22 Among the parents, most would like to see Japanese Canadian history incorporated, but given the disturbing nature of the subject many people are concerned that the topic be presented sensitively and at an age when the students are better able to understand it. In contrast there is a general agreement among the students that it would be redundant since they learn about this history as part of the public school curriculum. A small minority of people felt that the history of the school should not be incorporated into the curriculum because the school's main objective is to teach language and it is the public school's responsibility to teach history. In addition there are a few people who would like to see a broader focus in terms of the history of the school, particularly focusing on the early period of Japanese immigration to British Colombia. This debate surrounds the 'official' incorporation of the history into the curriculum, but the history is already incorporated into the school in a variety of ways. While students are at the VJLS they hear about the history of the school from a number of sources. There are some opportunities to meet former graduates, at reunions and other events such as the anniversaries of the school's opening and reopening. There is also a small group of former graduates who volunteer on a regular basis. Also, things like the speech contest provide a venue for this type of message. The year 2000-2001 winner spoke about her grandfather's experiences during the Internment period and her desire for world peace. In addition there are many items around the school that speak to the school's past, such as the photographs of the World War I Veterans and other former students and various plaques and displays. It is this type of learning that influences people in distinctive ways. For people who have met these former graduates or for people who have family members who were former graduates, both the memories of the former students and stories they told became attached to the 1928 building. One mother with students at the school described how her father did not believe that this was the school he had attended in the pre-war period until he saw the door that led under the stage in the gymnasium. 23 And my Dad is like, "no way, that place would have been burnt down in the war or before the war", like you know when they took over and moved all the Japanese people out, and he didn't believe that it was still there, and then I said "no, no, this must be it", and he still didn't believe it.. ..And then when he came here [from Toronto]...he walked into the old building and when he saw the staircase going up the sides he's like - woo- and then he went into the old hall, and in the old hall when you went in there was a little ramp, and when he walked down the ramp it was like he was going to faint, it was like ghosts or something, and he said, "yah this is it", it was like he couldn't believe it...and under the stage there was a little hatch, .. .and I had already been there a couple of times and I didn't even know that there were rooms underneath the stage, well under the stage they had storage space but there was actually like a room downstairs, and my Dad walked off and he said "there are rooms under here", and he pulled the floor up and we found it, the student council had stored stuff down there, it was being used, but I never knew about it and he knew about it. For this man, the physical building of the VJLS provided the catalyst for remembering the past. Now for his daughter the building provides both a way of remembering her father and a way of remembering the pre-war era. Such personal memories animate the building for the people who have had contact with the pre-war students. For those who have not had the opportunity to meet pre-war students the past is a living part of the present in a different and imaginative way. Gaston Bachelare wrote that, "home gathers images, cementing memory to imagination, and that the essential benefit of a house is to shelter daydreams" (cited in Walter 1988). For the students of the VJLS these daydreams have a historical content to them. Many aspects of both the 1928 building and the 2000 building speak to the history of the school, and stimulate the imagination of the students. These include the Tsutae and Hanako Sato Memorial Library, named for a former Principal and a teacher who were instrumental in rebuilding the school in the post war period7, a plaque and a display commemorating the efforts of the Redress Movement and the accomplishments of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation, and details of the exchange program with a school in Japan that was founded in honour of a former graduate who had gone to Japan to continue her studies when 7 See Chihiro Otsuka Remaking an Institution and Community: The Vancouver Japanese Language School After the War, (MA Thesis, Department of History, University of British Columbia, 1995). 24 World War U was declared. (She was later killed helping to fight a fire at the school in Japan where she was teaching). It is this school that now participates in the exchange program. The artifacts that most caught the student's imagination were the photographs. There were two sets of photographs that the students found particularly interesting. These photographs included photographs along with the names of the Japanese Canadians who fought for Canada during World War I and an old class picture, similar in style to the class photographs that were taken during the time of this study. In addition most students learn how World War LI affected Vancouver as part of their public school classes. Together these things, along with the 1928 building itself, were the starting point for the students' imagination. In this context, the term 'imagination' should not be taken to mean something purely fanciful. Rather, the students were using their creativity mixed with their own experiences to bring to life a world based on the historical evidence that they saw around them. For most students who had attended classes in the 1928 building, this involved imagining what it was like for past generations to attend the VJLS. Most of the students identified with past graduates, both those they have met and with those whose pictures hang in the school office. The 1928 building provides them with connection to the past through the surroundings. One young student assumed, based on the faded paint in the 1928 building that the school had never changed and was the same now as it was for students from previous generations. For the older students, who had learned about the history of Vancouver in their public school classes, they felt that the VJLS was a place where that history was made real. One student said, "We learn about it in school, but we don't really get a touch of it and I get a touch of it when I come to Japanese school and see those people [the former graduates]". This type of imagining has also produced an interesting shift in the naming of the pre-war Japanese District. According to Kobayashi (1992), to those within the community, the area was referred to as Powell Street. This name encompassed the whole community, which extended 25 beyond Powell Street to the neighboring blocks. For those outside of the community it was called either 'Japantown' or 'Little Tokyo'. Some people at the school cautioned me that referring to the community in this way was less than polite. However, among the students this is a common way of referring to the past community. This reference was made in comparison to Vancouver's Chinatown. Chinatown is visually a distinct area within Vancouver and this distinctiveness is celebrated by the City of Vancouver. Historic Chinatown includes a number of designated heritage buildings and the City promotes tourism to the area through a walking tour booklet highlighting these buildings. Most students imagined that the Powell Street community was similar in scale to "Historic Chinatown" and expressed their regret that this is no longer the case. While a few shops and organizations remain in the area, the last ten years has seen many of these move on to other areas. The students also expressed their relief that their school has survived in the area, so that something of that community remains. This type of imagining may also be a type of forgetting, when students have less historical information on which to base their imaginings. The Tsutae and Hanako Sato Memorial Library is one such instance. One student made the comment, "you don't really know who those people are so it kind of makes you think. Like what did they do? Why are they here? Were they really big?" Rather than looking for answers to these questions his imagination filled in the blanks. It is also the case that sometimes names can become too closely associated with the things named after them. Litzinger (1998) makes this point in discussing rural China. He explains how a bridge was built at the location of a traditionally performed ceremony and given the name of that ceremony. However, that ceremony had not been practiced since communism in China and the bridge, while at the location of the ceremonial bridge was in no way related to the ceremony, except in name. Rather than causing people to remember the ceremony it has caused them to forget, as the name had come to be associated only with the bridge. Like the bridge, the library invokes both commemoration and forgetting. Alternatively, the name of the 26 library, in honor of Tsutae and Hanako Sato, now has a permanent and tangible location allowing many people to see it on a daily basis, and may lead some curious students to discover who Tsutae and Hanako Sato were, rather than just imagining who they were. This process of cementing memory to imagination is not limited to the students at the VJLS. Unlike the historical imagining of the students, which is directed towards the past, the adults' imagining is directed towards the future. More of the adults imagine and hope for improvement in the future and some are actively working towards this goal. As a result of providing this grounding for people's memories VJLS has come to see itself as having a moral duty to remain in the east side of downtown Vancouver. This is in part, an attempt to not allow history to defeat the community, as one teacher explicitly stated. An adult student, whose wife immigrated from Japan, saw the problems of the east side of downtown Vancouver as the result of the policies of the Federal and Provincial governments during World War II. When the banks and businesses, the Japanese businesses and banks and so forth, that were in operation around Powell Street in the early 1940's were closed, that's when the east side really became an economic vacuum and some of the social problems started to move in. Most cities have similar areas where poverty is more visible, and for most people this demands explanation. In the case of Vancouver, the events of World War II provide the basis of this explanation. For the teachers at the VJLS, the cause of the visible poverty was less a concern than its impact on the school. In interviews the teachers looked towards the future rather than towards the past. One teacher detailed how poor the area has become but also expressed hope for improvement in the future. This teacher emphasized that if the school just waited it would become a nicer area again. It is my understanding that another new wave [of development] from the Gastown area is slowly crossing towards here, so I hope eventually our area is going to get a little better. And I see one apartment around Main and Alexander is converted for artists. 27 Another teacher not only sees a brighter future for the east side of downtown Vancouver but believes that the VJLS should play a role in building that future and improving the east side of downtown Vancouver. The reason why we have [the school] here is also to teach the students who don't know the history. It also means a lot that we are here and they should understand what it means to be in this place. Many people are complaining about the neighborhood but I am hoping the neighborhood will get better but you can imagine what it would have been like if Japanese people didn't move out. It would be a totally different area; it should be such a fun place and like little Tokyo. History changed that but we shouldn't be defeated by the history, we should change the history, that's what I feel. This sentiment of a moral reason for being on the east side of downtown Vancouver was summed up by the President of the Japanese Canadian Citizens' Association in her speech at the Grand Opening Ceremony in June of 2000. I feel grateful to the school and to the perseverance to persist and preserve this building, to continue to exist here because it is a marker of and our wish for the future of our community.... The east side of Vancouver has seen a lot of different communities come and go and today the Japanese Community [sic] has moved on to other areas, but what really speaks to me...is that all members of our society may not have as much opportunity to make positive change and the fact that the Japanese Language School is here and able to work together throughout the community also speaks very positively of the institution. Both to those associated with the VJLS, in the Japanese Canadian community, and others in Vancouver, the VJLS represents perseverance and commitment. The importance of the VJLS comes from its ninety-six years of history at the same location, and the uniqueness of that situation. It is a place that has meaning for people because it has endured. For the VJLS the meaning of these places comes from their presence in people's lives. This is used to maintain a connection with the past as Basso (1995) demonstrates in the case of the Western Apache, events that give moral guidance are remembered through the locations where they happened. In this way the terrain takes on special meaning. Drawing on Basso, Riano-Alcala (1999) situates this same phenomenon in an urban area. Riano-Alcala 28 discusses how the people of Medelin Columbia situate memory in the landscape when violence has caused so much change in that landscape. In these constructions of place it is the interaction with the past in an inhabited place that is the defining feature. Connections to the Past: The Idea of "Rupture" An awareness of the past is essentially a personal relationship with the past. The relationship between the past and the present is one that is discussed in terms of an awareness of the separation between the past and the present. Everyone is conscious of the passage of time but to have an awareness of the past we must individually attach some meaning or importance to the past in daily life. There must be a feeling of connection. Pierre Nora argues that in order for there to be a need to 'preserve' the past, society must have lost a sense of continuity with the past. For Nora this type of continuity is represented by the collective memory of peasant culture and it is the loss of this that he sees as a violent rupture that has prompted the growth of history. In a similar, although less drastic way, Keith Basso discusses the turn of events that can lead us to view a frequently seen place differently. Basso explains that, "Perhaps, one spots a freshly fallen tree, or a bit of flaking paint, or a house where none has stood before - any disturbance, large or small, that inscribes the passage of time - and a place presents itself as bearing on prior events" (Basso 1996: 4). There is a disturbance that separates the past from the present. Basso continues, ".. .at that precise moment, when ordinary perceptions begin to loosen their hold,.. .awareness.has shifted its footing, and the character of the place, now transfigured by thoughts of an earlier day, swiftly takes on a new and foreign look" (1996: 4). After this type of rupture there is an awareness of the past in the present that is of a different character than before. However, this implies a feeling of connection to what is changing. Everything is in a constant stage of change but it is only certain changes that produce this rupture or are noticed at all. It is only when there is a connection to the way things are and they begin to change that there is an awareness of the passage of time. The urban landscape of the city is perhaps one 29 place where this is most true. Cities are both places of rapid change and spaces filled with meaningful places. As mentioned earlier, this is one reason why the City of Vancouver began to preserve its heritage buildings, "to provide continuity and a sense of security from rapid change"(Fleming 1982: 3). At the VJLS many of these sentiments came out at the time the gymnasium in the 1928 building was demolished. The 1928 building had a large gymnasium that was attached to the back of the 1928 school. This had to be torn down in order to obtain the occupation permit for the new building next door. In an article in the school newsletter one teacher writes, On the rainy morning of October 7 l h our hall that held so many eventful memories was demolished into rubble within three hours. During that short time, it was sad to recall how long it must have taken the Japanese pioneers in 1927,1 imagined with sweat and tears, to build this sturdy building so that the younger generations to come could use it for years. It is this teacher's connection to the old gymnasium that makes this event speak to the passage of time. She concludes by writing that, Time in its wanderings seems to promise that nothing remains forever, yet I do believe that the destruction of our old hall, in the end, may not be such a sad event after all. In fact it just might be a corner stone for the future, and greater developments to come. For this teacher the demolition of the old gymnasium was an emotional event. It was through this feeling of a connection to the old hall that the passage of time became significant. Without this rupture or the feeling of personal connection it is still possible to have an understanding of the past. At the VJLS this took the form of historical knowledge. Practically everyone had an understanding, in greater or lesser detail, of the way in which World War II affected Canada, and Vancouver in particular. Most students I spoke with could recall learning about the history of Vancouver in their public school classes. One student connected the facts he had learned in history class to the school only in the sense that the school had been around at that time and showed no personal interest or identification with those facts. Some parents also 30 responded in this way. They knew of this part of history and connected it to the school in a general way. These parents expressed an interest to know more about the specific history of the school but also said that they would probably not seek out such information on their own. While some of this may be attributed to a greater interest in other aspects of the school, some of it may also be attributed to the fact that these people did not feel a personal connection to this past. This is not to say that these people were not interested in the past or in preserving the past, but rather that there was a different texture to their statements. Their reasons were closer to those articulated by the City of Vancouver, with some people practically paraphrasing the statements made by representatives of the City. For some it is the moment of connection that can form this rupture and open up a new level of awareness of the past. One student found herself identifying more with the former students from the pre-war period than did the adults at the school. This was because their level of Japanese was more similar to her own. She explained that, they [the former students] were talking about how they were so young when they came and all that, and that's kind of neat to hear, and its neat because even though they went to Japanese school their English is much better than their Japanese too, and my problem with going to Japanese school is that all the older people here, like the adults all speak Japanese so well and formal speech which is so hard in Japanese, so I kind of get nervous when they talk. It was through this experience that she got a greater understanding of the Internment. In her own words she 'got a touch' of that history. This passage also highlights the important role a connection between people plays in the connection with the past at the VJLS. For the adults at the school it was this connection to people that played a key role in the way they thought about the past. When the teachers I spoke with talked about the past, they talked about other people who had been involved with that past, and they represented this past in terms of its connections to the present. When one teacher who has been at the VJLS for two years, first arrived she was surprised by people's commitment to the school. 31 Its was so different from the school I used to work at and I thought 'why do they do that so much' and some parents who have daughters and sons who don't come to school anymore, the graduates, still come to help. It made me very interested to know why they do this. She attributed the sense of community spirit to the original Japanese immigrants who in spite of their poverty built the school building and she felt that this was an inspiration to the community that has been with them ever since. Another teacher also emphasized the continuity with the past but in terms of a connection to people. She told me a story about an old gentleman who used to be the director of the school's board. This gentleman, one day I was talking to him because I was very interested in him. He doesn't say too much about himself but if there is something he just shows up and he is on his knees and hands and scrubbing the floor and he doesn't mind. He said he used to have a couple of buildings around here, he is wealthy too by the way, so he doesn't need to according to his age and his financial situation too but he is up front to look after this school and he and his wife kept saying, "Please build the new school when we are alive" and he kept donating money so many times and that donation is more that ten thousand each time, almost every time, and one day I was talking to him and he said "I don't mind working, and when I was in Japan I was poor" She goes on to explain the success story of this gentleman who was so poor in Japan and came to Vancouver and became wealthy. For this teacher it is these people that provide the connection between the past and the present, between the 1928 building and the new building. The connection to the past through a connection to known people shows a connection to the past through community. Community is used in the sense that Williams (1988) describes as becoming popular in the nineteenth century, as "to distinguish direct relations from the establishment of realm or state". This type of community of direct relations also holds some nostalgia for those at the VJLS. When I asked people what their experience of the 1928 building was before the 2000 building was built everyone offered their happy memories. The atmosphere in particular was something that is missed. One father described the 1928 building this way, 32 In the old building its very small, very crowded but very friendly, like everyone's right there, when you came in the old school you would see everybody, when you walk through the school, the school is full, like at your own home and everyone is in the way, but that's family, right, so at the new school there a is little of that missing, maybe it just needs more people, more people to fill it. Another mother expressed a similar sentiment, In the old building its small so you feel like you are at home because everything involves mixing with everybody, okay, so you go to the hall and you bump somebody else so, I prefer to work in the old building in the kitchen, everybody comes in and talks to us, the new building is so big, everybody in their own room, so we don't have time to meet, with three hundred people in the old building you had to meet with somebody else, so I prefer the old building, I feel more comfortable over there. The students have mixed feelings about the 1928 building. One young student felt that the 1928 building was old and dark. Another young student said, "It seemed like you were at a school with about five dollars in the bank so now with all these painting and all the calligraphy and posters and stuff, it's a little bit more lively, a little bit more rich". Other students, especially those who were not planning on returning in the fall had a more nostalgic view of the old building. One student described it this way, When it was recess everybody would go there so it was like it was fun because there was so many kids and then in order to go to the gym there was like this one big door and then there was this one door that led to the kitchen, and there used to be stairs there and my friend and I used to go there to talk and like have fun and when there was also a stage by the gym, we used to play on the stage and that was smaller also but it used to be like all together. For these people their own personal memories of the VJSL reinforce their commitment to keep the school as a place to remember, not only for the pre-war graduates to return but so they themselves can return. This type of community of direct relationships can be contrasted to an imagined community (Anderson 1991). Anderson calls some communities imagined in that, "Each member.. .will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion" (1991: 6). The Japanese Canadian 33 community could also be defined as one of these types of communities. In the context of the history of the VJLS it is also through this type of imagined community that some people feel the connection to the VJLS. It is through the bringing of the abstract idea of the Japanese Canadian community down into lived experience that some people become connected to the VJLS. One father had first heard of the VJLS through reading Joy Kogawa's book Obasan. Later'when it was time to send his children to school, he chose this school because of the associations to the pre-war community. He explains, I think that because it was in my mind, that the community was here, that the school was here and I really admire the fact that they have kept the school here, I think that is important and to be supported. I think that it is a small community and it has already been completely fragmented by what happened fifty years ago and I think it is important that the school try to keep things going together. I would rather we all came together in one place than scattered around. This type of connection begins at a different level than the connection through direct relationships. However, this type of connection can be equally emotional and for some this emotional attachment was further enhanced through their participation at the VJLS. For one teacher, who had first learned of the Internment at the university level, she felt a deeper commitment to this history after her time at the VJLS. She stated that, I want to know, I should know, so and why don't I ask the questions there are so many people who know the history,.. .because I am now an immigrant here I should know and I feel like I should pass it to my children and to the next generation that's how I feel. After directly experiencing others' commitment to this history, this teacher's own commitment to that history was deepened. She felt it was her duty as a Japanese Canadian to learn more and pass on what she knew. Both the imagined community and the community of direct relationships interact at the VJLS. As mentioned above, some adults felt that by participating at the VJLS they were part of a larger Japanese Canadian community, while others did not feel this way. One mother said to 34 me that she is not involved with the Japanese Canadian community. She is only involved with the VJLS. The students were no different. Some students felt that the school stimulated their interest in being more involved in other Japanese Canadian organizations, while others felt attached only to the school. This is also true of the history of the Japanese Canadian community in Canada more broadly. Some students felt attached to this history because of their participation at the school and the importance of this history to the school, while others felt this history was important more generally for people who defined themselves as Japanese Canadian. This range of views appears to emerge from the way people define the meaning of being Japanese Canadian. Conclusions: Revisiting the Question of 'Whose History?' The question of what it means to be Japanese Canadian is a complex one, but the question of what Japanese Canadian history means at the VJLS provides interesting answers. For most people this history belongs first to those who experienced it and their families. This reflects the feeling of a community of direct relationships that is present at the VJLS. Rather than belonging to abstract categories of people, it belongs most to those who were and continue to be part of that history, and to those related to them. This not only includes people of Japanese descent but also others who are involved with the VJLS. For example, a community outreach organizer in the area felt very proud that the VJLS was still in its historic location, and still actively playing a role in the community. However, in terms of a larger group to which this history belongs, it does not belong exclusively to those who fall into the category of Japanese Canadians, but to all Canadians. This history belongs to those who call themselves Japanese Canadian by virtue of the fact that they are Canadian. Many of the people at the VJLS felt a connection to the school's history, but this was often expressed through a connection to being Canadian. Those people who identified themselves as Japanese felt the least connected to this history, and felt it more to be a part of the rest of Canadian history that they had learned elsewhere. One teacher, who was Japanese, 35 explained that her desire to learn about the history of Japanese immigrants to Canada was part of her desire to learn about all of the ethnic groups in Canada and especially First Nations peoples. However, the history of the VJLS, of Japanese immigrants to Canada, of the Internment and of the Redress Movement, was felt to belong to the Canadian experience. This sentiment has also been expressed by the Japanese Canadian scholar, Audrey Kobayashi, who wrote that the process for those who participated in the Redress Movement, was not one entailing, "the adoption of a separate 'Canadian' culture but a proud and dignified assertion of their distinctiveness within a multicultural society" (1992: 4). As Senator Ray Perrault said at the Grand Opening Ceremony for the new building addition, "in a sense the school belongs to every Canadian". The focus in on the fact that the Japanese Canadian experience belongs to the Canadian experience rather than just being the experience of a separate group or specific ethnic minority. 36 Bibliography Alonso, Ana Maria 1988 "The Effects of Truth: Re-Presentations of the Past and the Imagining of Community." Journal of Historical Sociology 1(1): 33-57. 1994 "The Politics of Space, Time and Substance: State Formation, Nationalism, and Ethnicity" Annual Review of Anthropology 23: 379-405. Ames, Michael 1999 "How to Decorate a House: The Re-negotiation of Cultural Representation at the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology." Museum Anthropology 22(3): 41-51. Anderson, Benedict 1991 Imagined Communites. Verso: London. Banks, C. Kenneth and J. Marshall Mangan 1999 The Company of Neighbors: Revitalizing Community through Action Research. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Basso, Keith 1994 Wisdom Sits in Places. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Bodnar, John 1995 "Public Memory in an American City: Commemoration in Cleveland". In Commemorations; The Politics of National Identity. John R. Gillis ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Casey, Edward S. 1996 "How to Get from Space to Place in a Fairly Short Stretch of Time: Phenomenological Prolegomena". In Senses of Place. Steven Feld and Keith Basso eds. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press. Comaroff, John and Jean Commaroff 1992 Ethnography and the Historical Imagination. Boulder: Westveiw Press. Cruikshank Julie 1990 Life Lived Like a Story; Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Edwards, John 1988 "Bilingualism, Education and Identity" Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. 9(1-2): 203-210. Espiritu, Yen Le 1992 Asian American Panethnicity; Bridging Instititions and Identities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 37 Fleming, Rhonna 1982 Vancouver's Heritage; Towards Vancouver's Second Sentury 1886-1986. Heritage Rationale and Program for Vancouver. Vancouver: City Publication. Greenaway, John Endo 2000 "The Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall; Building Community through Knowledge and Communication" The Bulletin June: 18-23 Gibson, Margaret 1986 Accommodation without Assimilation; Sikh Immigrants in American High Schools. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 1997 "Complicating the Immigrant/Involuntary Minority Typology" Anthropology and Education Quarterly 28(3): 431-454 Gupta, Akhil and James Ferguson, eds. 1997 Anthropological Locations Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkely: University of California Press. 1998 Culture Power Place Explorations in Critical Anthropology. Durham: Duke University Press. Heller, Monica 1984 "Language and Ethnic Identity in a Toronto French-Language School" Canadian Ethnic Studies 16(2): 1-14. Johnson, Genevieve Fuji 1991"4 Twenty-something Japanese Canadians discuss Generation Gaps, Ethnicity and Martians". The Bulletin, September: 15-21. Kobayashi, Audrey 1992 Memories of Our Past; A Brief History and Walking Tour of Powell Street. Vancouver: NRC Publishing: Vancouver 1992 "The Japanese-Canadian Redress Settlement and its Implication for Race-Relations" Canadian Ethnic Studies 24(1): 1-19. Kogawa, Joy 1981 Obasan. Toronto: Oxford University Press. Koizumi, Keiko 1999 Why Japanese Women Learn English in Vancouver M A Thesis Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia. Lowenthal, David 1986 The Past is a Foreign Country. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994 "Identity, Heritage, and History" ^Commemorations; The Politics of National Identity. John R. Gillis ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 38 Makabe, Tomoko 1980 "Canadian Evacuation and Nesei Identity" Phylon 41(2): 116-125. 1998 The Canadian Sansei. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Miki , Roy and Cassandra Kobayashi 1991 Justice in Our Time: The Japanese Canadian Redress Settlement. Vancouver: Talonbooks. Min, Pyong Gap 1999 "Ethnicity: Concepts, Theories, and Trends" In Struggle for Ethnic Identity. Pyong Gap Min and Rose Kim eds. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press. Moscow, Michal Anne 1990 "An integrated approach to Judaics and general studies in a Jewish day school" Ethnic Groups 8:15-27. Nora, Pierre 1989 "General Introduction. Between Memory and History" In Rethinking the French PastWo\.\. New York: Columbia University Press. Nyden, Philip, et al. 1997 Building Community; Social Science in Action. London: Pine Forge Press. Olwig, Karen Fog and Kirsten Hastrup, eds. 1999 Siting Culture the Shifting Anthropological Object. Routledge: London. Otsuka, Chihiro 1995 Remaking an Institution and Community: The Vancouver Japanese Language School After the War. M A Thesis, Department of History, University of British Columbia. Reitz, Jeffery G. 1980 The Survival of Ethnic Groups. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Roy, Patricia E. 1989 A White Man's Province; British Columbia Politicians and Chinese and Japanese Immigrants, 1858-1914. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. Sturken, Marita 1995 "The Wall and the Screen Memory. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial" In Tangled Memories. The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic and the Politics of Remembering. Berkeley: University of California Press. Sherman, Daniel J. 1994 "Art, Commerce, and the Production of Memory in France After World War I" In Commemorations; The Politics of National Identity. John R. Gillis ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 39 Riano-Alcala, Pilar 1998 Dwellers of Memory: A Ethnography of Place, Memory, and Violence in Medellin, Columbia. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of British Columbia. Tuan, Mia 2000 "Neither Real Americans nor Real Asians? Multigeneration Asian Ethnics Navigation of the Terrain of Authenticity" Qualitative Sociology 22(2): 105-125. Tuan, Yi-Fu 1974 Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. 1977 Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Walter, Eugene Victor 1988 Placeways: A Theory of Human Environment. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Warner, Catherine 1990 Burden of Dreams. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press. William, Raymond 1983 Keywords; A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. London: Fontana Press. Xiao, Hong 1998 "Chinese Language Maintenance in Winnipeg" Canadian Ethnic Studies 30(1): 86-96. 40 Appendix 1 The following is the text that appears on the City of Vancouver Heritage Plaque. Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall Architects: Sharp and Thompson The Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall, a non-profit organization founded in 1906, constructed this combined Japanese Hall and school building in 1928. Sharp and Thompson's design featured triple arched windows with columned separations, and black and gold mosaic tiles adorning arch heads and entrance. This institution was forced to close during World War Two but reopened in 1952. It was the only property returned to the Japanese Canadian community after the war. The building continues to be a focal point for language studies and cross-cultural gatherings for the Japanese Canadian Community. Architect Shigeru Amano designed the new expansion, begun in 1998. 41 This mosaic sidewalk tile is part of the Footprints Community Art Project. It was installed front of the VJLS in the spring of 2001. Designed by Vancouver Artist Debra Yelva, it symbolically represents the Internment. 42 43 Volunteer Host Families needed for 2002 exchange 2 0 0 2 ^ ) * ^ h 7 T ? V - f I Fundra ising for 2002... Sugiyama Meat Sale, Pie & Cookies Sale. Collecting ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ H empty cans and bottles ^ ^ ^ H ^ H H,story Notm •od VJLS T V » r » .-- • (—« Mlhn hi I -1 • If ril . l i l « • WW feM% NPM MM ItfMHt « W « — • I . . . . . . - . H « t a k B > ' J M ^ < * M ^ • U I M l l t t i l M k M l n l K X ' - ' »•»—»*»"»•»» —.Ml W m M * — — M l M . l M « < > i * I H I f t W I i l l ' |I1>I> ' r T — ' — — M I -1 - • J J — — - J — * 1 " ' * " — * « 1 M I M • i a k i M i - '*> i M i i i i iMj* tn i i i ii • 1 r •— As part of the display about the exchange program between Nobeoka Junior High and the VJLS, this panel tells the story of Akiko Kurita. There is also a scholarship named after her. 44 


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