Photo: Students at Sacred Heart School in Greenwood Photo courtesy: Nikkei National Museum 2015.3.6.2.16
We went to a Catholic school in Greenwood. We attended Sacred Heart school for eight years. We never spoke English before we enrolled in school. The instructions were in English. And we either said: yes or no. And when we played outside at recess, we always spoke Japanese with a few simple English words mixed in.
I started high school in grade nine, then we had to speak English to other kids because they were hakujin, [white] kids. And I know if we spoke English while we were going to that Catholic school, people would say we were namaiki [a show off]. At the Catholic school we were all Japanese students.
I don’t think I ever spoke Japanese in high school. My English was okay because I never had trouble. I read a lot. I went to the library and picked up books to read. I think that helped.
Within the family: my mom, dad and my siblings, we spoke Japanese. My sister Margaret started at public school, so she spoke English. We would speak English to her. But Christine, Vince and I spoke Japanese.