TELLING the Stories of the Nikkei – Behind the Scenes

As part of their Social Studies and English classes at Lucerne Secondary School, students created 10 short films under the guidance of their teachers Terry Taylor and Gary Parkstrom and filmmakers Moira Simpson and Catrina Megumi Longmuir over the course of just a few days.

The students had been learning about their local history in New Denver of the Japanese Canadian Internment during WWII. Many were shocked that something like this could happen in Canada. Through visits to the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, interviews with Japanese Canadian elders who still reside in New Denver, and research, they made a total of 10 short films. These were shared & showcased at a community screening at the Bosun Hall in New Denver to honour the history and the elders in the community.

This film provides an intimate behind the scenes look into the students’ journey of digging deep into the history of their community, providing context for their short films. It includes interviews with the youth reflecting on their learning, the process of making a film & uncovering more through this process, and the rewards and outcomes of their work.

Telling the Stories of the Nikkei – 10 Student Films

As part of their Social Studies and English classes at Lucerne Secondary School, students created 10 short films under the guidance of their teachers Terry Taylor and Gary Parkstrom and filmmakers Moira Simpson and Catrina Megumi Longmuir over the course of just a few days.

The students had been learning about their local history in New Denver of the Japanese Canadian Internment during WWII. Many were shocked that something like this could happen in Canada. Through visits to the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, interviews with Japanese Canadian elders who still reside in New Denver, and research, they made a total of 10 short films. These were shared & showcased at a community screening at the Bosun Hall in New Denver to honour the history and the elders in the community.

Nobuyoshi (Nobby) Hayashi – An Interview

Elder Nobuyoshi (Nobby) Hayashi still lives in New Denver BC, a former internment site for Japanese Canadians during WWII. Here he shares stories of growing up on Powell Street in Vancouver playing baseball prior to the war, and then the forced relocation of his family to the interior during the war. To this day, Nobby volunteers at the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre in New Denver, a museum which recently gained recognition as a National Historic Site.

Falling from the Sky – Tsuneko Kokubo (Koko)

Artist Tsuneko Kokubo (Koko) shares the story of her childhood in this film. Though born in Steveston BC, daughter of a fisherman, she moved to Japan with her grandparents and ended up staying there throughout WWII. In this piece, Koko performs an interpretation of a dance created and choreographed by Hiromoto Ida as a tribute to her grandmother. She currently resides in Slocan Valley with musician Paul (Garbanzo) Gibbons where she paints in her studio that she and Paul built.

Emiko (Amy) Mori – An Interview

Elder Emiko (Amy) Mori shares her stories of growing up in Maple Ridge (just outside of Vancouver) when one day she and her family were forced to move temporarily to Hastings Park and then onto Lemon Creek at an internment camp during WWII. After the war ended her family was given the ‘choice’ of moving east or to Japan – her family chose Japan.. but it was not what they expected. Eventually Amy moved back to Canada and currently resides in New Denver BC.

Kiyoko (Kay) Takahara (93) – An Interview

Elder Kiyoko (Kay) Takahara shares her stories of growing up in Cumberland BC (Vancouver Island) and the forced relocation to Hastings Park and then onto internment camps in the interior of her young family during WWII. She also talks about the second uprooting that took place after WWII where her family was given the ‘choice’ of going east to work on farms, or “back to” Japan (though it was her first time to go there).

Gail (Ono) Swanson

Gail Swanson, President of the Kyowakai Society (Living together peacefully) – a society that was set up during the war years by Nikkei living in New Denver BC as a means to find ways of living harmoniously in the community, despite the difficult circumstances. They are responsible for the running of the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, a National Historic Site. Gail shares her family’s story and talks about what it was like growing up as a Japanese Canadian in her community. She also shares a special visit to Japan with her mother where she was able to meet her family in Japan for the first time.