Norm Masaji Ibuki

Writer Norm Masaji Ibuki lives in Oakville, Ontario. He has written extensively about the Canadian Nikkei community since the early 1990s. He wrote a monthly series of articles (1995-2004) for the Nikkei Voice newspaper (Toronto) which chronicled his experiences while in Sendai, Japan. Norm now teaches elementary school and continues to write for various publications. 

Updated August 2014

community en

Vancouver’s Tonari Gumi: Keeping Jun’s Magnificent Dream Alive - Part 3

Read Part 3 >> Who uses Tonari Gumi (TG)? What kind of services do you provide? The most frequent and loyal users of TG are Japanese-speaking seniors aged 75-plus. Although we do have some activities and programs that target English-speaking seniors, such as a Japanese conversation class and our craft club, most of our programs cater to Japanese speakers. In 2019, prior to the pandemic we started our Nikkei Social Club on Saturday afternoons where mostly English-speaking Nisei and Sansei would gather for Japanese food and activities such as “gaji” card games and English …

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Vancouver’s Tonari Gumi: Keeping Jun’s Magnificent Dream Alive - Part 2

Read Part 1 >> What are some of the challenges of operating Tonari Gumi (TG) during a pandemic? From 2010 to 2015, I worked full-time as the executive director of the Japanese Community Volunteers Association, or Tonari Gumi, as it is popularly called in Japanese. Tonari Gumi had always had a positive image in the Japanese Canadian community ever since it started as a small group of young volunteers wanting to help poor and isolated Japanese Canadian seniors in the Downtown East side of Vancouver in 1974. The original founder was a young Sansei from Ontario who had come to study in V…

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Vancouver’s Tonari Gumi: Keeping Jun’s Magnificent Dream Alive - Part 1

  When I asked Takeo Yamashiro, a founding member of Vancouver’s Tonari Gumi community help group, about why young Nisei and Shin-Issei in the 1970s decided to help needy Issei, he shared the following experience: “Let me share with you a couple of encounters which totally blew my mind at the beginning of my involvement in the JC community: One day, I visited an old rundown rooming house in a back lane of Gastown (Vancouver). An old Issei man was lying in bed and mumbling. Through the visitation, I discovered he was not on a federal guaranteed income supplement program. …

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identity en

Kyoko Norma Nozaki Sensei: “A Minority of Minorities” - Part 2

Read Part 1 >> I am curious about what prompted you as a third year high school student to return to the US on your own? What was the reaction of your parents? Where did you go? Where did you study? Despite the tragedies my father had faced, he strongly believed that the USA had the best education system in the world and encouraged me to study in the country. In order to prepare for the goal, I was sent to a junior - senior mission school in Fukuoka, where English language (not content courses) was taught by American missionaries and went to the American Center for extra language le…

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education en

Kyoko Norma Nozaki Sensei: “A Minority of Minorities” - Part 1

“Mr. Commissioner….So when you tell me I must limitTestimonyWhen you tell me when my time is up,I tell you this:Pride has kept my lipspinned by nailsMy rage coffined.But I exhume my pastto reclaim this time.My youth was buried in Rohwer,Obachan’s ghost visits Amache Gate.My niece haunts Tule Lake.Words are better than tears,So I spill them.I kill this,The silence…” From “Breaking Silence” (for my mother) by Janice Mirikitani (1941-2021) If anyone knows about the struggles of living with the dual identity of living as a Japanese American i…

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