Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Henry Shimizu Interview
Narrator: Henry Shimizu
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25 & 26, 2006
Densho ID: denshovh-shenry-01-0044

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TI: So I was... oh, what was I going to ask? So let's go back to the, the schools.

HS: Schools were, like I say --

TI: Who were the teachers, how was it run?

HS: Teachers, the teachers, as you know, I noticed that you had that book of Ghost Town Teachers, they were people who were from, people who were, usually were Japanese Canadians. They were, usually most of them were Niseis by that time, of course. They had been educated on the West Coast, some of them were at the university level, and there was a restriction just before the, up to the war, there was a restriction certainly up at that time that anybody of Oriental ancestry, there was a quota on them in going to UBC, the university and going into, becoming teachers. But that's about all the -- there were a few professions that were open to Asians. You couldn't be a doctor, you couldn't go into medicine, because they didn't have, well, for one thing, they didn't have a medical school there. So the other thing is you couldn't go in to be a lawyer, you couldn't be a scientist, because they didn't, they had quotas on, they even had a ban on not allowing you to go into those specialties.

TI: Quotas or bans at the university level?

HS: At the university level, so you couldn't get an education. How you could do it is a lot of the people, doctors, got their education either in Japan and then came back, came to Vancouver as qualified doctors, and then they were able to persuade the government to give them a certificate to work as a doctor, or they were going east of the Rockies and getting, like Alberta welcomed Japanese people to -- and there was quite a few doctors that were, that were graduating from the University of Alberta as full-time, -fledged general practitioners and doctors, and even further east out into Manitoba, which had a medical school. U of A had, was the only one, medical school west of the, west of the Great Lakes, almost.

TI: So there were just multiple examples of the British Columbia government really trying to get the Japanese out of...

HS: They were, they were... well, when they had the opportunity, generally speaking, when they had the opportunity to try and get rid of one group of what they call the "yellow peril," they tried their darnedest to do that. There were people there that were, were vociferous enough and were determined enough to try and get rid of Japanese because they, economically it was a problem for them. The other thing is just, they just didn't like, it was a racial thing. They were, there were a lot of racists in that government, and even to this day there probably still are a number of them. Not to the extent as they were, because there's no way that you can justify it anymore, but at that time, it was almost like "England first" and all this sort of thing. They were, there were people from, there were people from the British Isles, they didn't even have a Canadian passport. They had a British passport, but they were, they were accepted as Canadians in Canada, and of course, they were, many of them were in position of authority because of their background. And all of that made for the fact that you had... however, one thing they did allow is for the Japanese kids to go to university and get educated as educators, they became schoolteachers. And other than that, pretty well, there were a few other people's economics, they got a few and took --

<End Segment 44> - Copyright © 2006 Densho. All Rights Reserved.