TAIKEN Series: Our Elders, Our Stories

Interviews & Teaching Tools

The interviewees in this project are survivors of the forced removal, internment, incarceration, and forced dispersal of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.  Hearing our elders’ personal experiences (taiken) help us understand the challenges of immigration, the impacts of racial discrimination, and on being Japanese Canadian through past, and present while looking to the future. Despite all odds, and even though they are now spread across the country, the Nikkei communities have stayed strong and built a wonderful life in Canada.

As part of an effort to preserve oral histories, the NNMCC developed this resource providing greater access to the personal stories of our elders, and also to the archival collections housed at the Nikkei National Museum.

Use the Teacher Resource Guide and the Student Viewing Guides to enhance student engagement and address Core Competencies of critical and creative thinkingcommunication, personal reflection and social responsibility. Students will learn from our community about the Big Ideas covered in Social Studies Grades 4-6, 9, and 10.

Aki Horii 

Join the discussion: Ask Aki a question!
(0:07) – Life Before the War
(5:10) – Everything Changed
(13:31) – Starting again from Scratch
(18:52) – Words of Wisdom

Student Viewing Guide: Aki Horii

Roy Uyeda

(0:09) – Life Before the War
(3:18) – Everything Changed
(6:59) – Starting Again from Scratch
(14:47) – Words of Wisdom

Student Viewing Guide: Roy Uyeda

Mary Kitagawa

(0:05) – Life Before the War
(1:25) – Everything Changed
(8:07) – Starting From Scratch
(12:26) – Words of Wisdom

Student Viewing Guide: Mary Kitagawa

Mits Sumiya – A Prisoner of War Story

Student Viewing Guide: Mits Sumiya


The Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre (NNMCC) would like to extend special thanks to Aki Horii, Mary Kitagawa, Mits Sumiya and Roy Uyeda for your tireless efforts, support, and commitment to sharing the histories of Japanese Canadians. May your stories live on, and continue to teach us lessons of survival and honour, and the importance of our precious human rights as Canadians.

Thank you to the many BC educators and volunteers who gave us input, advice and assistance to help us improve our educational programs. We are grateful to the Nikkei National Museum staff, including Beth Carter, Alexis Jensen, Linda Kawamoto Reid, Nichola Ogiwara, Karah Goshinmon, Sherri Kajiwara, Carolyn Nakagawa, and Rafael Urera.

Produced and developed by Naomi Horii
DVD development by Marc Hansen

Thank you to:

Lisa G. Nielsen and Catrina Honjo Longmuir of Bitesize Media for the perceptive production of the interviews.

The Sedai: Japanese Canadian Legacy Project and Elizabeth Fujita in Toronto.

The Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre is proud to produce this educational resource and would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous support for this project from Telus Vancouver Community Board, Province of British Columbia – Multiculturalism, RBC, and Metro Vancouver.