Long-term affect of internment

The internment experience affected my outlook in that for many years after we returned to Vancouver I had this sense of not belonging.  In 1951, the Japanese were not welcome.  As a teenager, I experienced my share of discrimination, mostly name calling but nothing uglier than that.

In Alberta, there was some discrimination, but the anti Japanese sentiment was minor. I experienced some name calling, but that’s the extent of it. I was never attacked. When we first moved to Vancouver there was quite a bit of name calling not just with me but all my Japanese friends. We talked about this a lot. But over time it dissipated. Once I got into high school, conditions improved. With the friendships I had formed with other Japanese and with my white public school friends, I got along pretty well. Things were fine after that. So, this feeling of not belonging didn’t last past high school.

I attended school where I formed a few close friendships and through attending Japanese Language School after regular school for several years I met many Japanese friends who are still my closest friends today.  I lived with two distinct sets of friends.

I’m still close to the Japanese Canadian friends because of our shared experience of our time as teenagers. We had a lot of fun in those days. I’ve remained friends with many of those acquaintances, for over 60 years now. We’re still going strong. Although several have passed away at this point.

Most of my non-Japanese friends didn’t go to university. So, there was a break at the end of high school. I went to UBC and I made friends there, but we all went our separate ways. There are a few friends that I keep in touch with, but most of them are from my university time.

The sense of not belonging when I was younger disappeared over time.  I enjoyed school, did well, got into UBC, earned a degree which led to a career that worked out very well.

I met the girl I eventually married through my friendships with the Japanese crowd.  In those days the Japanese teenagers from all over Vancouver hung out and did things together especially during the summers.  Jane and I married during my last few months in grad school and as soon as I finished, we left for Ottawa not to return for 39 years.

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