UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The stories of eleven Japanese Canadian teachers : colouring racial barriers into teacher training, certification, and hiring processes in British Columbia, 1916-1942 Kubota, Haruho


This master’s thesis is a historical research study that examines critical gaps in two areas of historical scholarship: the history of education and the history of Japanese Canadians. While rich histories about Japanese Canadians and of education in British Columbia exist, this thesis revisits told and retold histories to bring the stories of eleven Japanese Canadian teachers to light. In doing so, I argue that while an explicit policy preventing aspiring Japanese Canadian teachers from obtaining teaching certificates did not exist, the normalization of anti-Asian attitudes and franchise laws, ultimately led to their exclusion from the teaching profession. The widely shared historiography of Japanese Canadians suggests that an explicit ban was placed on Japanese Canadians from obtaining teaching certificates after Hide Hyodo, the only Japanese Canadian to become a teacher in British Columbia, was hired by the Richmond School Board in 1926. However, there appears to be no such explicit policy. Using historical sources such as yearbooks, newspaper articles, governmental documents, and archival materials, I located ten other Japanese Canadian women who sought the teaching profession between 1916 and 1942. Hyodo’s story and the stories of ten other Japanese Canadian women who aspired to become public school teachers in British Columbia show how they navigated and responded to an education system that presented itself as colour-blind but was coloured with racial barriers. This thesis also adds to the existing history of education by bringing forward their absences as evidence of how subtle and overt racism lived in and informed the teacher training, certification, and hiring of teachers in the first half of the twentieth century. By piecing together eleven individual experiences of young Japanese Canadian women, this thesis offers new ways of understanding how racism worked and enriches our knowledge about Japanese Canadians in the pre-war years.

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