Japanese Canadians

Japanese Canadians (日系カナダ人 Nikkei Kanadajin, French: Canadiens japonais) are Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry. Japanese Canadians are mostly concentrated in Western Canada, especially in the province of British Columbia, which hosts the largest Japanese community in the country with the majority of them living in and around Vancouver. In 2016, there were 121,485 Japanese Canadians throughout Canada .[1]

Japanese Canadians
Nikkei Kanadajin
Total population
(by ancestry, 2016 Census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec
English, French, and Japanese
Buddhism, Shinto, Christianity, Irreligion, Japanese new religions
Related ethnic groups
Japanese, Japanese Americans, Japanese Brazilians, Japanese Peruvians, Japanese Mexicans


The term Nikkei (日系) was coined by sociologists and encompasses all of the world's Japanese immigrants across generations. Japanese descendents living overseas have special names for each of their generations. These are formed by combining one of the Japanese numerals with the Japanese word for generation (sei 世):ada:

  • Issei (一世) – The first generation of immigrants, born in Japan before moving to Canada.
  • Nisei (二世) – The second generation, born in Canada to Issei parents not born in Canada.
  • Sansei (三世) – The third generation, born in Canada to Nisei parents born in Canada.
  • Yonsei (四世) – The fourth generation, born in Canada to Sansei parents born in Canada.
  • Gosei (五世) – The fifth generation, born in Canada to Yonsei parents born in Canada.


The first Japanese settler in Canada was Manzo Nagano, who lived in Victoria, British Columbia in 1877 (a mountain in the province was named after him in 1977). The first generation, or Issei, mostly came to Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and Rivers Inlet from fishing villages on the islands of Kyūshū and Honshū between 1877 and 1928. Since 1967, the second wave of immigrants were usually highly educated and resided in urban areas.[2]

Until 1948, Japanese-Canadians—both Issei and Canadian-born Nisei—were denied the right to vote. Those born in the 1950s and 1960s in Canada are mostly Sansei, third generation. Sansei usually have little knowledge of the Japanese language. Over 75% of the Sansei have married non-Japanese. Nisei and Sansei generally do not identify themselves as fully Japanese, but as Canadians first, who happen to be of Japanese ancestry.

The younger generation of Japanese-Canadians born in the late 20th century are mostly Yonsei, fourth generation. Many Yonsei are of mixed racial descent. According to Statistics Canada's 2001 census of population information, Japanese-Canadians were the Canadian visible minority group most likely to marry or live common-law with a non-Japanese partner. Out of the 25,100 couples in Canada in 2001 which had one Japanese person, only 30% had two partners of Japanese descent and 70% included one non-Japanese partner. As of 2001, 65% of Canada's Japanese population was born in Canada.


In 1942, the federal government used the War Measures Act to brand Japanese Canadians enemy aliens and categorized them as security threats. There were 20,881 Japanese placed in internment camps and road camps in British Columbia; prison of war camps in Ontario; and families were also sent as forced labourers to farms throughout the prairies. Three-quarters of them were Canadian [technically British subjects, as were all Canadians, since Canadian citizenship did not exist prior to 1947]. A parallel situation occurred in the United States. (See Japanese American internment.)[3]

The property and homes of Japanese Canadians living in the province of British Columbia were seized and sold off without consent in 1943. The funds were used to pay for their internment. They also had to "pay rent" for living in the internment shacks they were assigned. In 1945, after the war, as part of the continued effort to remove all Japanese Canadians from British Columbia, Prime Minister MacKenzie King's cabinet used Orders-in-Council to extend the powers of the War Measures Act and Japanese Canadians give two "options": to either be relocated to another province, i.e. "East of the Rockies", or to go "back" to Japan (though most were born in Canada and had never been to Japan). After organized protests by against their treatment, they were finally given the right to vote in 1949. Mobility restrictions were lifted in 1949.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, documents on the Japanese Canadian internment were released, and redress was sought by the National Association of Japanese Canadians, an organization representing Japanese Canadians nationally that was headed by Art Miki from Winnipeg. In 1986, it was shown that Japanese Canadians lost $443 million during the internment. There were 63% of Canadians who supported redress and 45% who favoured individual compensation. On September 22, 1988, the National Association of Japanese Canadians succeeded in negotiating a redress settlement with the government at the time, under the leadership of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The settlement included $21,000 for each individual directly affected, that was, by 1993, almost 18,000 survivors. The federal government also provided a community endowment fund to assist in rebuilding the community, which is run by the National Association of Japanese Canadians. In addition, to address the more systemic racism that led to the plan and later justifications of the effort to remove "all people of Japanese racial origin" from Canadian territory, the redress settlement included the establishment of the Race Relations Foundation and challenges to the War Measures Act. The Prime Minister also offered a formal apology in the House of Commons and the certificate of acknowledgement of injustices of the past, which was sent to each Japanese Canadian whose rights had been stripped, incarcerated, dispossessed and forcibly displaced.


Japanese Canadians is located in Canada
Locations of hoshū jugyō kō in Canada

Hoshū jugyō kō (Japanese supplementary schools) for instruction of the Japanese language include those in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Saskatoon, Toronto, and Vancouver.[4]

With teachers from Japan:

  • Toronto Japanese School
  • Vancouver Japanese School (バンクーバー補習授業校 Bankūbā Hoshū Jugyō Kō) - Established on April 7, 1973 (Showa Year 48).[5]

Without teachers from Japan:[4]

  • Alberta
    • Calgary Hoshuko Japanese School Association (カルガリー補習授業校 Karugarī Hoshū Jugyō Kō)[6]
    • Metro Edmonton Japanese Community School (MEJCS; エドモントン補習校 Edomonton Hoshūkō)[7]
  • Nova Scotia
    • Japanese School of Halifax (ハリファックス補習授業校 Harifakkusu Hoshū Jugyō Kō)
  • Ontario
    • London (CA) Japanese School (ロンドン(CA)補習授業校 Rondon Hoshū Jugyō Kō)
    • The Ottawa Hoshuko (オタワ補習校 Otawa Hoshūkō)[8]
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
    • Saskatoon Japanese Language School (サスカトーン補習授業校 Sasukatōn Hoshū Jugyō Kō)


Historical population

Japanese Canadians by province or territory

Japanese Canadian population by province and territory in Canada in 2016 according to Statistics Canada:

Province or territory Japanese Canadians Percentage
 Canada 121,485 0.3%
 British Columbia 51,145 1.0%
 Ontario 41,645 0.3%
 Alberta 16,595 0.4%
 Quebec 6,495 0.0%
 Manitoba 2,645 0.2%
 Saskatchewan 1,225 0.1%
 Nova Scotia 900 0.0%
 New Brunswick 310 0.1%
 Prince Edward Island 110 0.1%
 Yukon 95 0.3%
 Newfoundland and Labrador 105 0.0%
 Northwest Territories 200 0.6%
 Nunavut 15 0.0%


Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, Steveston (2635520330)

Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Steveston, Richmond, BC.

Vancouver Japanese School and Hall

Vancouver Japanese Language School in Vancouver, BC is the oldest Japanese language school in Canada.

Vancouver Buddhist Church

Vancouver Buddhist Temple in Vancouver, BC.

Founding members of the Canadian Japanese Association at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial.jpeg

Founding members of the Canadian Japanese Association at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC.

See also


  1. ^ a b Statistics Canada. "2011 National Household Survey: Data tables". Retrieved 11 February 2014.
  2. ^ Ken Adachi, The enemy that never was: A history of the Japanese Canadians (McClelland & Stewart, 1976)
  3. ^ Ann Gomer Sunahara, The politics of racism: The uprooting of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War (James Lorimer & Co, 1981)
  4. ^ a b "北米の補習授業校一覧(平成25年4月15日現在)." () MEXT. Retrieved on May 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Home page. Vancouver Japanese School. Retrieved on April 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "トップページ." Calgary Hoshuko Japanese School Association. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  7. ^ "Time/Location." Metro Edmonton Japanese Community School. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
  8. ^ "Contact." The Ottawa Hoshuko. Retrieved on February 15, 2015. "日本大使館 領事班 オタワ補習校事務局  (住所)255 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON"

Further reading

  • Adachi, Ken. The enemy that never was: A history of the Japanese Canadians (McClelland & Stewart, 1976)
  • Sunahara, Ann Gomer. The politics of racism: The uprooting of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War (James Lorimer & Co, 1981)
  • Ward, W. Peter, The Japanese in Canada (Canadian Historical Association Booklets, 1982) online 21pp

External links

  • Multicultural Canada website images in the BC Multicultural Photograph Collection and digitized issues of The New Canadian (Japanese-Canadian newspaper) and Tairiku Jiho (The Continental Times)
  • Japanese Canadians Photograph Collection – A photo album from the UBC Library Digital Collections chronicling the treatment of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia during World War II
  • Tairiku Nippō – Japanese-Canadian newspaper published between 1907 and 1941, and now digitized by the UBC Library Digital Collections
Angus MacInnis

Angus MacInnis (September 2, 1884 – March 3, 1964) was a Canadian socialist politician and parliamentarian.

MacInnis, a trade unionist who had served for five years as a Vancouver Alderman, was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 1930 election as an Independent Labour Member of Parliament. He joined the Ginger Group of socialist MPs led by J.S. Woodsworth. He helped form the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in 1932 and thereafter sat as a CCF MP.

MacInnis retained his status as an MP through five subsequent elections until his retirement in 1957, but sat in three different ridings. From 1930 to 1935 he represented Vancouver South. From 1935 to 1953, he was elected three times in Vancouver East. He finished his political career as MP from Vancouver Kingsway. He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties and spoke against the discrimination against Japanese Canadians that was widespread in British Columbia in the 1930s and 1940s, and was an early advocate of extending the right to vote to Japanese Canadians, a right that was not won until 1949.

In 1943, he and his wife Grace MacInnis published Oriental Canadians—Outcasts or Citizens? which, while a call for humane treatment of Japanese-Canadians, acquiesced to the prevailing mood at the time that favoured "evacuating" Japanese Canadians from the Pacific coast of British Columbia for reasons of wartime security.When F. R. Scott stepped-down as the National Chairman, just before the CCF's biennial convention in Vancouver in July 1950, there was a rift between the farmer and labour wings. Percy Wright a Saskatchewan farmer and Member of Parliament, represented the farmer-wing, while MacInnis, represented the labour-wing. Wright defeated MacInnis in the election to be the CCF's National Chairman.

Asahi (baseball team)

The Asahi were a Japanese-Canadian baseball team established in 1914. The team went on to great success, particularly in the 1930s, winning numerous tournaments and championships. The team was based in Vancouver's Oppenheimer Park, in the city's Japantown. Matsujiro Miyazaki, a Powell Street shop owner, was the Asahis' first coach and manager. The Asahi Baseball Team won the Pacific Northwest Championship five years in a row. The team was disbanded when its members were dispersed across Canada due to the Japanese-Canadian internment during World War II. The team was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 and the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. The team was designated an Event of National Historic Significance in 2008, with a plaque unveiled in Oppenheimer Park on September 18, 2011. (the 70th anniversary of the Asahi's last game) On April 24, 2019, the team was honoured with a postage stamp issued by Canada Post.

Asian Canadians

Asian Canadians are Canadians who can trace their ancestry back to the continent of Asia or Asian people. Canadians with Asian ancestry comprise the largest and fastest growing visible minority group in Canada, with roughly 17.7% of the Canadian population. Most Asian Canadians are concentrated in the urban areas of Southern Ontario, the Greater Vancouver area, Calgary, and other large Canadian cities.

Asian Canadians considered visible minorities may be classified as East Asian Canadian (e.g. Chinese Canadians, Korean Canadians, Japanese Canadians); South Asian Canadians (e.g. Bangladeshi Canadians, Indian Canadians, Pakistani Canadians, Sri Lankan Canadians); Southeast Asian Canadian (e.g. Filipino Canadians, Vietnamese Canadians); or West Asian Canadians (e.g. Iranian Canadians, Iraqi Canadians, Lebanese Canadians).

Canadian Race Relations Foundation

Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a charitable organization and Crown corporation responsible to foster racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding and help to eliminate racism in Canada. The foundation was opened in November 1997, after the bill establishing it received royal assent on February 1, 1991. The Foundation operates at "arms length" from the government and is a registered charity. The Foundation is led by a board of directors appointed by the federal government as selected by the Prime Minister's Office by recommendations from the Minister of Canadian Heritage, currently Mélanie Joly. Previously, such advice came from the Minister for Multiculturalism, last held by Jason Kenney.

Greenwood, British Columbia

Greenwood (2011 population 708) is a city in south central British Columbia.

It was incorporated in 1897 and was formerly one of the principal cities of the Boundary Country smelting and mining district. It was incorporated as a city originally and has retained that title despite the population decline following the closure of the area's industries.

The town is served by Greenwood Elementary School which covers grades from 4-7. Students attend Midway Elementary School for grades from K-3. Following grade 7 local students attend Boundary Central Secondary School in nearby Midway.

In 1942, 1,200 Japanese Canadians were sent to Greenwood as part of the Japanese Canadian internment. Among those interned at Greenwood were Isamu and Fumiko Kariya and their son Yasi, the grandparents and uncle of NHL star and Hockey Hall of Fame member Paul Kariya; his father Tetsuhiko (T.K.) was born in internment.

Japanese Canadian internment

In 1942, Japanese Canadian Internment occurred when over 22,000 Japanese Canadians from British Columbia were evacuated and interned in the name of "national security". This decision followed the events of the Japanese invasions of British Hong Kong and Malaya, the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and the subsequent Canadian declaration of war on Japan during World War II. This forced relocation subjected many Japanese Canadians to government-enforced curfews and interrogations, job and property losses, and forced repatriation to Japan.Beginning after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and lasting until 1949, Japanese Canadians were stripped of their homes and businesses and sent to internment camps and farms in the B.C. interior and across Canada. The internment and relocation program was funded in part by the sale of property belonging to this forcefully displaced population, which included fishing boats, motor vehicles, houses, and personal belongings.In August 1944, Prime Minister Mackenzie King announced that Japanese Canadians were to be moved east out of the British Columbia interior. The official policy stated that Japanese Canadians must move east of the Rocky Mountains or be repatriated to Japan following the end of the war. By 1947, many Japanese Canadians had been granted exemption to this enforced no-entry zone. Yet it was not until April 1, 1949 that Japanese Canadians were granted freedom of movement and could re-enter the "protected zone" along B.C.'s coast. On September 22, 1988, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivered an apology, and the Canadian government announced a compensation package.

Japanese Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area

Toronto has a population of Japanese Canadians and also one of Japanese nationals. As of 2010 there are about 20,000 Japanese Canadians in Toronto. Adam McDowell of the National Post stated that Toronto's Japanese community was "never very large compared to, say, the Chinese or Italian communities".

Japantown, Vancouver

Japantown, Little Tokyo or Paueru-gai (パウエル街) is an old neighbourhood in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, located east of Gastown and north of Chinatown, that once had a concentration of Japanese immigrants.

Japantown ceased to be a distinct Japanese ethnic area during World War II when Japanese Canadians had their property confiscated and were interned (see Japanese Canadian internment). Although some Japanese returned after the war, the community never revived to its original state as the properties of Japanese Canadians were permanently forfeited by the Canadian government. As the Japantown ceased to exist, area is often referred and marketed as Railtown by real estate developers.


Lillooet (English: ), formerly Cayoosh Flat, is a community on the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, about 240 kilometres (150 mi) up the British Columbia Railway line from Vancouver. Situated at an intersection of deep gorges in the lee of the Coast Mountains, it has a dry climate with an average of 329.5 millimetres (13 in) of precipitation being recorded annually. Lillooet has a long growing season, and once had prolific market gardens and orchard produce. It often vies with Lytton and Osoyoos for the title of "Canada's Hot Spot" on a daily basis in summer.

McGillivray, British Columbia

McGillivray, formerly McGillivray Falls, is an unincorporated recreational community on the west shore of Anderson Lake, just east of midway between the towns of Pemberton and Lillooet, British Columbia, Canada, in that province's southwest Interior.

Minto City

Minto City, often called just Minto, sometimes Minto Mines or Minto Mine, was a gold mining town in the Bridge River Valley of British Columbia from 1930 to 1936, located at the confluence of that river with Gun Creek, one of its larger tributaries. It was first called the Alpha group of claims in the 1920s, when underground miners were exploring the seams of Cadwallader Creek and the origins of the placer deposits downstream in the Bridge River. The mine prospect was never much successful although a model townsite was built by promoter "Big Bill" Davidson, who imported soil to build a specially-built rodeo ground and baseball diamond on the rocky site. The larger mine of Bralorne was nearby. The mine shut down in 1936 due to productivity issues, but restarted in 1940. The valley has since been significantly altered when most of the vestiges of the town were inundated by the waters of the Carpenter Lake reservoir following completion of the Bridge River Power Project. The town sat on the western end of the lake near the present Carpenter Lake Road (a section of BC Road 40), part of the road drove through a wooden Tudor arch built into the rock mill.

Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre

The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre is a museum and interpretive centre in New Denver, British Columbia, Canada, dedicated to the history of the Japanese Canadians who were relocated to internment camps during World War II by the Canadian government (see Japanese Canadian internment).

The site consists of five buildings, of which three are original shacks built to house the interned people. Many artifacts such as stoves and furnishings are preserved, as are some personal effects of the displaced people. It also features a Japanese garden designed by Roy Sumi, a former supervisor of the Nitobe Memorial Garden at the University of British Columbia.

The centre was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2007.


Obasan is a novel by the Japanese-Canadian author Joy Kogawa. First published by Lester and Orpen Dennys in 1981, it chronicles Canada's internment and persecution of its citizens of Japanese descent during the Second World War from the perspective of a young child. In 2005, it was the One Book, One Vancouver selection.

The book is often required reading for university English courses on Canadian Literature. It also figures in Ethnic Studies and Asian American Literature courses in the United States.

Kogawa uses strong imagery of silence, stones and streams throughout the novel. She has lots of interesting dreams that are carried throughout the novel as well. Themes depicted in the novel include memory and forgetting, prejudice and tolerance, identity, and justice versus injustice. Kogawa contemplates many of these themes in her poetry as well.

Reference Re Persons of Japanese Race

Reference Re Persons of Japanese Race is a famous decision of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which upheld a Supreme Court of Canada ruling declaring a government order to deport Canadian citizens of Japanese descent to be valid.

Slocan, British Columbia

The Village of Slocan ( sloh-KAN), historically also known as Slocan City ( SLOH-kən), from Ktunaxa: sⱡuqan, IPA: [sɬuqan]). is a village in the Slocan Valley of the West Kootenay region of the southeastern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. It is located at the southern end of Slocan Lake, to the south of New Denver, which sits mid-way up the lake's eastern shore.

Steveston, British Columbia

Steveston was originally a small town founded in the 1880s by William Herbert Steves near Vancouver, British Columbia. It is located in the city of Richmond, British Columbia.

Steveston village is a historic salmon canning centre at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River, on the southwest tip of Lulu Island in Richmond, British Columbia. Since 1945, it has hosted an annual Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1, Canada Day.

The extreme southwestern tip of this southwestern suburb contains Garry Point Park, the site of the Steveston Fisherman's Memorial.

Sunshine Valley, British Columbia

This article is for the recreational community near Hope, British Columbia. For the similarly named ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, see Sunshine Village.Sunshine Valley, formerly named Tashme, is an unincorporated settlement and former Japanese Canadian internment camp on the Crowsnest Highway between of the town of Hope (NW) and the entrance to Manning Park in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia. Located just outside the 100 mile "quarantine" zone from which all Japanese Canadians were removed during World War II, it was a large camp housing 2400 people on the site of a former Depression-era Relief Workers' Camp. Men housed in the camp were employed in the construction of the highway during the war. After the war, the site was sold off and has continued in existence as a proposed Boy's Town, the Allison Lumber Company (a combined lumber and mine venture) and then a small campground and recreational community, and served as the basetown for the small Silvertip Ski Area which was located at the head of Tearse Creek, a tributary of the Upper Sumallo River which flows north into the town from the south & upon entering the town, turns southeast & enters Manning Park. In Hope, there is a Tashme Friendship Garden in memory of the camp and its residents.

War Measures Act

The War Measures Act (French: Loi sur les mesures de guerre; 5 George V, Chap. 2) (the Act) was a statute of the Parliament of Canada that provided for the declaration of war, invasion, or insurrection, and the types of emergency measures that could thereby be taken. The Act was brought into force three times in Canadian history: during the First World War, Second World War and 1970 October Crisis.

The Act was questioned for its suspension of civil liberties and personal freedoms, not only for Ukrainians and other Europeans during Canada's first national internment operations of 1914–1920, but also during the Second World War's Japanese Canadian internment and in the October Crisis.

Canadians of Asian descent by area of origin
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