Affect of the war years and racism

Above photos of my grandparents: Left is Matsunosuke and Haru Komori newly married around 1913. Right is Nisa and Kin Mochizuki taken in Japan in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s.

I never met my grandfathers who likely were the most impacted by the racist treatment in Canada. For my grandmothers, this history seemed like just one more hardship that they endured. Their lives were a struggle but they lived to ripe old ages and were content to see that their families had grown and thrived.

My father and his brothers were very aware of the racist treatment they suffered. They worked extremely hard to be successful and make money through their street smarts. The measure of their worth seemed tied to the success of their business. They came from poverty and retired into comfortable lives. The racism and injustice may have been strong motivators to prove their worth and to show that they were just as good if not better than others.

When the Komori’s sold the sawmill in 1977, I remember my uncle making an interesting comment. There was negative local media coverage protesting the sale. My uncle felt that if the owners were white then they would not have been treated as harshly by the community and media. The stigma of past racist treatment still pictured large in my uncle’s view of the world.

I can’t say whether my father and uncles’ ability to name racism helped me address racist incidents. We certainly weren’t given the language and skills at home to deal with racist slurs and actions directed at us in a construction way.

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