Voices of Four Generations: A Story of the Japanese Canadian Community from Issei to Yonsei

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This study examines the overall transformation of Nikkei, or individuals of Japanese descent, in Canada from first-generation Issei to fourth-generation Yonsei by drawing on the voices of each generation. How have the Japanese in Canada—once deemed “inassimilable”— transformed into one of the smallest and, statistically, most “assimilated” visible minorities in all of Canada with an intermarriage rate surpassing 95 percent? I examine the reasons behind this phenomenon by interweaving my own family narrative within the larger historical framework. The transformation of the Japanese Canadian community is examined in three distinct stages. The first chapter examines the arrival of the first-generation Issei and the creation of a transnational community in Canada. The second chapter explores the destruction of the transnational community, using the internment experience during World War II as a distinct event responsible in large for the distancing of Japanese Canadians from their “Japaneseness.” Lastly, the third chapter examines how the Canadian government’s “repatriation or resettlement” policy forcibly dispersed the community and accelerated their “blending” into mainstream society. Ultimately, my study asks if it is possible for current and future generations of Nikkei to re-member a Japanese Canadian transnational community. My thesis integrates oral histories of my family members, as well as archival material from Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa) and McMaster University (Hamilton).





Spieldenner, Alexis (2013). Voices of Four Generations: A Story of the Japanese Canadian Community from Issei to Yonsei. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/7556.

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.