In the early 1950’s, the Quebec chapter of the Japanese Canadian Citizen’s Association (JCCA) formed the rudimentary beginning of our community organization. For well over a decade, it was quite active, holding National Conferences and basketball tournaments, with a roster of capable and well organized executives, but the feeling that the National office had fulfilled its mandate of alleviating post relocation problems affecting Japanese Canadians ultimately resulted in declining local interest and membership which after due consideration prompted the Montreal chapter to withdraw membership from the National organization and cease operation.
In time, the need for some kind of representative organization evolved into the creation of the “Nikkei-jin-kai” but because it was organized and run mostly by Japanese speaking Isseis, many felt that it did not represent all segments of the Japanese Canadian population in Montreal. The desire for collective identity to achieve a more positive revival of our Nikkei community and to integrate into the Canadian milieu, led to the widespread need of a core organization representative of the Montreal Japanese Canadian community, ultimately resulting in the formation of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal (JCCCM) in 1976. By this time, age of the Isseis had taken its toll and those who had formerly served as executives were too ill to serve or had passed away. The newly formed organization was therefore composed mostly of Niseis who assumed the responsibility of maintaining harmony within our community while fostering the legacy of our cultural heritage.
Japanese Canadian history in Montreal
The dispersement of Japanese Canadians from the West Coast of Canada and the subsequent resettlement in various parts of eastern Canada are important aspects of modern Canadian history. Montreal has been home to as many as 5,000 Japanese Canadians since 1943 although the number has decreased in recent years.
Their struggle to re-establish not only the community, but their lives, has been preserved through taped interviews, letters, photos and other documents. These have been gathered over the past 30 years by the late Rei Nakashima and many volunteers.
The collection had been stored at the Nakashima residence until 2005 when it was moved to the McGill University Archives. Since then another group of volunteers has worked with archivists at McGill University identifying, classifying and organizing the materials which are valuable resources for anyone, particularly students and academics, interested in researching and learning about this historical event.
For a look at this collection, go to: