I am a yonsei, and I identify as a mixed race Japanese Canadian. My great grandfather immigrated from Japan, which means the Japanese side of my family has been in Canada longer than my white side. I am in my mid thirties, I believe I am slightly older than the typical yonsei. I am half white and half Japanese, and my mixed identity does inform my experiences interacting with Japanese Canadian communities. My being mixed also affects my representation as an Asian person to non-Asian people, including stereotypes and inappropriate comments, such as “you’re Asian…but not TOO Asian!” My experience being mixed unfortunately brings a lot of feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy. There are expectations that I can represent Japanese language and culture, but I wasn’t raised with these things so I can’t. As an adult, it’s seen as my failure, instead of knowing the traumatic roots of why Japanese culture wasn’t preserved in families. While there are positive aspects to having access to biculturalism, my Canadian experience is more about not belonging to either group, and being on the outside of both.
Carley OkamuraView posts by Carley Okamura
I am a yonsei living in Edmonton, Alberta, which is where I grew up. I have played Japanese drums (taiko) for 20 years, and am involved with the local EJCA.