I am thrilled to collaborate with retired legendary Filmmaker/Producer for the National Film Board, Michael Fukushima. I know that Michael will give me so much education about filmmaking that he will inspire me in unimaginable ways. It has always been a dream of mine to be able to give an authentic voice and bring to life, the courageous members of my family who had endured so many challenges to be Canadians. To be with them through all of their struggles, to be thankful for all of the gaman and strength they needed to persevere in the face of disaster.
For most of my life, I had denied being a Canadian who is Japanese because the issue of my identity has been a troubling one. Perhaps my ambivalence stems back to my early years when we first came to Ontario, in the living room of my parents’ closest Nisei friends every Saturday night. Other Nisei friends also came to this house. While my sister and I watched television, the adults spoke in whispers about “TASHME”, which I thought was a Japanese word… much later I learned that it was the acronym of the names of the three B.C. politicians who wanted to force all Japanese Canadians to be interned – Taylor, Shirras and Meade. The adults looked so serious and worried as they asked about long-lost friends. I assumed that whatever they were discussing was a bad thing. My parents never spoke about what had happened… and I never asked. I just wanted to get away from being Japanese.
In 1995, I asked my mother to write her story for her grandchildren. At first, she was reluctant saying no-one would be interested in her life, But I persisted. Mom wrote her memoir. In 2001, six years after she wrote her story, I painted SHIKATA GA NAI/ IT CAN’T BE HELPED, ALBERTA, 1951, of myself holding my Anglo doll, behind a barbed wire fence, my mother toiling in the sugar beet field behind me. This was my first major work on my family story of forced relocation. The beginning of healing for both my mother and me.
Me. Starting a new creative project, hard.