The Risk of being Japanese Canadian by Terry Watada

TerryWatada_Small_PhotoWith the redress settlement and the rise of Japanese Canadian writing, I noticed a new stereotype has emerged in the Canadian public.  Japanese Canadians are law-abiding, cooperative, timid, quiet, friendly, persevering and non-complaining (despite the redress campaign).

No one thinks of them as angry, combative, corrupt, sexual and loud.  That would be politically incorrect, that would be heresy, that would be normal.

So I took the risk and portrayed Japanese Canadians as human beings placed in extraordinary circumstances.  Thus after copious interviews and research, I constructed a storyline based on true events.  I found such varied characters (some real, some fictional) as a gangster, a patriot (for the wrong side) and a traitor willing to sellout his own community.  There were many others of course.  All in all, these were not the expected Japanese Canadians.

The risks are obvious: criticism, alienation and outright hostility from my own.  I know this because these were the reactions to my earlier work.  I was labelled a “dumbhead” in the past for “airing our dirty laundry”.  Japanese Canadians would rather the truth be forgotten and that the current stereotype persist.

The broader Canadian society may simply ignore my assertions and I will fade into obscurity.  I’m barely heard of today as it is.  But I will persist in order to recover my own history.

 

The Three Pleasures Terry Watada

 

 

Author Terry Watada is appearing at the 2017 Whistler Writers Festival at the Literary Cabaret, Fri. Oct. 13, 8pm at Maury Young Arts Centre.