The Community Relations Committee extends its heartfelt thanks to the UBC students for their willingness and open hearts.

“Over the last three days having the opportunity to learn about Japanese Canadian history and participate in an application process by creating promotional material for the walking tours has been a wonderful experience. I find it inspiring that Japanese Canadians despite encountering such injustice and racism maintained their strength in a thriving Japantown, during Internment, and after World War II. By learning from individuals impacted directly or indirectly by internment allowed me to realize that my current situation is filled with immense amounts of privilege. It also allowed me to validate my own experiences as a second-generation Canadian. Thank you for this opportunity to learn and engage with amazing individuals!

-Ravleen Kaur Brar, Student

“It has been such an honour to engage in such a deep and interactive learning process for the past three days.  Laura- thank you so much for your generosity in time, knowledge and reflection activities. This experience has definitely enriched my understanding of Japanese-Canadian History in Vancouver and all the hidden narratives around it.”

“As we all reflected upon what it means to be a social activist, I will make sure to be always present and engage in conversations and actions that contribute to the common good and inclusive future for all of us.

  Ogulsheker Mammetgurbanova, Facilitator

“The past few days spent in and around the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Hall opened my eyes to the incredibly unique neighborhood and layered history that deserves much more attention. By participating in this program I learned more about the resilience and power of the Japanese Canadian community, met new friends and mentors, as well as expanded my own skills through our marketing campaign. I encourage all to attend the walking tours and reflect on the colorful layered history that exists in the Downtown Eastside and is shared by many communities.”

  Anna Goddu, Student

“I wanted to say thank you again for providing us with such an incredible learning experience and for your generosity and wisdom. I did not expect to experience significant personal development over such a short time, but I definitely did, particularly upon being pushed out of my comfort zone. 

I realized very quickly that the prior historical knowledge I had was only surface level, so it was awesome that I was able to learn about the many layers to the history and its ties with the geography and community. There was a lot of information to synthesize, much of it quite emotionally heavy, but I found the questions you asked us and the activities helped me understand the significance of what the Japanese Language Hall is doing. It embodies the strength and resilience of the Japanese-Canadian community, which is something that really stood out to me in all of our learnings. I also enjoyed listening to and speaking with Martin, Abby, Steve, and Mayumi, because it reminded me that social activism can take many forms – I am inspired to seek out more opportunities to tie history and activism together. Best of luck getting the tours up and running in May!”

– Chloe Chambers, Student

“My experience at the Language School was awesome and thank you for all the snacks and delicious free lunch!  I’ve only been to DTES once before coming to this program, and it never occurred to me that this place might have a depressing history — I saw things on the streets, felt scared, and that’s it. I unconsciously associated drug addiction, poverty, and unsafety with this place without questioning where these issues originated from. But just as people tend to have prejudice over what is faraway and strange to them, that prejudice can be stripped down by actually getting to know more about the place in the place with an open mind. 

I first signed up for this program wanting to learn about Japanese-Canadian history and was surprised to find out the deep connections between the community and the place. The things I learned from the community elders upended my pre-perception. DTES may not be thriving in a way many would call it, but the community living there is undoubtedly a resilient one, both the Japanese community and the new-comers, how they recover from the trauma of exile and racism, how sometimes things can slip out of control under marginalization, how the majority moves relentlessly forward. I learned a lot of facts, but the most important lesson I got from this experience is to always question what are shown on the surface, try to know what came before them and see more of them. I think that is an important way to overcome stereotypes and build understanding. Thank you again for the awesome program and I wish more people will join and be educated about DTES and the community in the future!”

– Jiaqi Zheng, Student

“I am also very impressed with the way your organization seeks to raise awareness and rediscover the hidden history of the area through connecting with current local members of the street.  Thanks for giving us this opportunity to learn about your history and reach out to local communities!”

– Neo Yu, Student