Family History

My father, Yoshio, was born and raised in Vancouver, the oldest of six children of Arthur Kozo (1887-1957) and Tomeko (1901-1992) Arai. In 1942, after signing an agreement which stipulated that no one in the family would ever ask the government for financial assistance, Dad’s family was allowed to move, intact, to Sunnyside farm, about five miles outside of Grand Forks. Kozo made this arrangement in order to prevent his family from being split up – my then 20-year-old dad would have been sent to one road camp, his 55 year-old father to another, and his 41-year old mother and five younger kids to an internment camp in some abandoned ghost town. After Japanese Canadians were finally allowed to return to the West Coast in 1949, Dad and his mother returned first, followed by the rest of the family over the next couple of years.

My mother, Sumiko “Sue” (1922-1990), was born and raised in Summerland, BC, (about 250 miles east of Vancouver), the second of five children of Kichinojo “Jack” (1890-1995) and Tsuruko (1901-1988) Imayoshi. Her entire family was allowed to remain in Summerland for the duration of the WWII. This doesn’t mean that her family was immune to the effects of racism and racist legislation in effect at the time.

My two sisters and I were born and raised in Vancouver. We all graduated from UBC.  When we were teenagers, my mother repeatedly told us that we should make sure we get a decent education so we won’t ever have to rely on a man for money. It was good advice. Nothing was ever said about marrying a fellow JC.  I WAS told, however, never to do anything that might disgrace the family! Must be that Asian family honour thing . . .


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