While all my family members from my grandparents’ generation, as far as I am aware, married within the Japanese Canadian community, almost all members of my father’s generation intermarried with non-Japanese Canadians. I followed suit and also married someone outside the community.

I think this high rate of intermarriage is undeniably a partial product of internment and the policy of forced dispersal afterward. Growing up as a half-Japanese girl, although I was very involved with the Nikkei community, there weren’t many Japanese Canadians my age around, and certainly too few to expect that I would find a romantic partner among its members. I think it’s very likely that if Japanese Canadians had been allowed to remain in the BC Lower Mainland in tighter communities, and had not spent years being perceived as “un-Canadian” simply for existing, the intermarriage rate would be lower today.

As someone who is half-Japanese, I have sometimes struggled to feel secure in my “ethnic identity” especially because I never learned Japanese from my family. Yet being half has also helped me feel a part of a unique identity that almost all Nikkei of my age share in.

Nicola, Aiden (brother), Colleen (mother), and Les (father). Tokyo, 2012
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