Bittersweet Memories: Narratives of Japanese Canadian Children’s Experiences before the Second World War and the Politics of Redress


  • Daniel Lachapelle Lemire McGill University



Japanese immigration, children, internment, redress, Japanese, Vancouver, education, military history


In this paper, we first examine a number of adult recollections of life in British Columbia before, and during, the Second World War; these retellings—most of them committed to paper decades after the events by supporters of the redress movement—found resonance in the collective memories of discrimination and victimhood that had come to define many Japanese Canadians’ sense of identity. Secondly, we analyze archival documents that reveal many more facets of the lives of Nikkei children than previously encountered in the literature, including their activities at school and at home, and their reflections on contemporary events and on their place within Canadian society. Deconstructing the discourses that redress activists and supporters crafted in the years preceding the successful conclusion of the campaign, it will become evident how the politics of redress obfuscated important experiences of Japanese-Canadian children living in British Columbia in the first half of the twentieth century.