Rising above adversity: distinguished Japanese Canadians

1.  Joy Kogawa, reknown Canadian poet, novelist and activist, was a pioneer Japanese Canadian to rise to national literary fame for her works that shed light on the Japanese Canadian Internment (famous novel, ‘Obasan’).  She was born in Vancouver, and grew up in the Marpole neighbourhood, in the Historic Joy Kogawa House, now a house that supports artists-in-residence.

Her family was interned in Slocan City during the Internment.  In 1986, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, and in 2010, she received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese Government.

2. Tsutae Sato was the Honorary principal of the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall who spent half a century teaching the Japanese language to Canadians from pre-war to post-war.  During the Internment, he was forcibly relocated to Coaldale, Alberta to work on the sugar beet farms.

Together with the school’s board of directors during the Internment, he helped to prevent the sale of the school’s building, thus becoming one of the only properties returned to any Japanese Canadian after the Internment and Dispossession.  In 1952, the community reclaimed the building and in 1953, after an 11 year gap, classes again were restarted, and continue to this day.  In recognition of his service as an educator of the Japanese language education and culture to enrich Canadian society, he was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1978.

3.  Raymond Moriyama is a world renown Canadian architect.  His firm, Moriyama & Teshima Architects is renowned for designing many major buildings across the world, including the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. His focus is on humane architecture with the pursuit of true ideals, democracy, and unanimity of all people.

Born in Vancouver, he was interned with his family to Slocan, while his father was imprisoned in a POW camp in Ontario.  To seek solace from the world, he built a treehouse outside the camp, which later became an inspiration for his designs in adulthood.

In 1985, Raymond Moriyama was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and promoted to Companion in 2008. With numerous awards and commendations of his contribution, in 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

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