I was born in 1951 in Vancouver, the second of four children of Charles and Lillian Shimotakahara Kadota. I grew up in South Vancouver and graduated from the University of BC with a BA in Psychology. While a student there I was involved in the Asian Canadian Coalition, which set me on the path to connect with identity and family history. It was then that I began to identify as Asian Canadian, which I saw as a kind of political statement coming out of the Asian American movement.
After graduation I went to live in Japan for two years, teaching English and learning Japanese. Upon returning to Vancouver I started volunteering at Tonari Gumi and worked on a slide tape show, Images of the First Hundred Years, with Lucy Komori and a group of Sansei, to show at the first Powell Street Festival in 1977. I stayed connected to the Japanese Canadian community through Katari Taiko, redress in the 80s, Tonari Gumi and the JCCA.
I did my teacher training at Simon Fraser University and enjoyed a lifetime of teaching young children in the public school system in Vancouver Island North, Delta and East Vancouver. I retired in 2012 and started volunteer work with children and in the JC community to encourage sharing and preserving our stories and history. I’ve also been able to take two courses in the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Department at UBC, which led to Lucy and I making a short film SEDAI, about identity through the eyes of two Sansei and two Yonsei.
My partner, who is from Seattle, was incarcerated with his family in Crystal City, Texas during the war. Together we have a son who graduated from UBC in 2010, just two years before his grandfather Charles received his honorary degree for being expelled in 1942.