The Nikkei Called it Gon Island: A Story of Settlement and Dispossession on Mayne Island




Like recent community research and scholarly analysis, this article aims to open new doors in our understanding of the Japanese Canadian experience in Canada by focusing on the experiences of two Mayne Island families, Kadonaga and Nagata, the latter in the context of their greenhouse operation at Campbell Bay where my family now lives. I hope, through this microhistory of two Mayne Island families, their pioneering experience and consequent dispossession, and then placing that in the context of their declarations to the Bird Commission in 1948, to give focus to the experience of these Islanders and reveal details and truths that are lost in the big picture. Reclaiming this and how it relates to my family property on Mayne Island has been a way for me to confront and acknowledge the racism and white supremacy woven into the fabric of our Province and our communities. 


Author Biography

Jennifer Iredale

Jennifer Iredale is a heritage professional, curator, and the former director of the BC Heritage Branch. She has been involved in provincial and national heritage initiatives for more than forty years. Since retiring, she engages in history research and writing projects and in heritage and cultural initiatives on Mayne Island, Victoria, and the Fraser Canyon. Some recent articles include “Mali Quelqueltalko: The Writings of a Nineteenth-Century Nlaka’pamux Woman” in BC Studies 203 (Autumn 2019), and “An Eye for a Good Picture: The Legacy of John Aitken” in British Columbia History magazine (Autumn 2018). Jennifer sits on several boards has been honoured with a BC Museums Association Distinguished Service Award. Jennifer is grateful to the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples on whose territory she resides.