As shared with Judy Csillag and Allie Shier
In 1895, my grandfather left Japan to explore a new horizon, and he chose to come to Canada. He travelled on a boat, where he and my grandmother met. My grandparents settled in New Westminster, British Columbia, and had eight children. My mother was born in 1907 – the fourth child of the Nishijima family. In the 1920s, my father left Japan to work with his brother in Canada, as the opportunity to make money here was far greater than in Japan. He met my mother in the latter part of the 1920s. I was born in 1934 – the third son of seven children.
While Canada was thought to be a land of promise and opportunity, life became difficult for my family during the Second World War. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial Navy on December 7th, 1941 was the beginning of turmoil for Japanese Canadians. We were considered a threat to national security, and government forces took young men over the age of 18, including my father, to road camps. Soon after, the rest of my family was forced to leave our lives behind. We were taken to Vancouver’s Hastings Park, a horse racing stable, and had to wait until homes were built to house our family in an internment camp. Japanese Canadians lost everything – business, homes and belongings were confiscated and sold for next to nothing. 22,000 people were sent to internment camps in British Columbia and Northern Ontario during the war.
In 1942, we were transferred to Tashme, an internment camp 14 miles from Hope, BC. The camp housed 2,500 people. We lived in tarpaper wood frame houses with outdoor facilities and we all bathed in a community bathhouse. In the fall, my father joined my family at Tashme. It was here that he passed away suddenly on November 15th, 1943, leaving my mother pregnant with her seventh baby. As a young child in the internment camp, I thought of my life as an adventure, but in reality, everyone suffered. When the war was over in 1945, the government threatened to deport Japanese Canadians to war-ravaged Japan, but many people refused because they were born in Canada. The government then gave us the option to move east of the Rockies, and we moved to Toronto in 1947.
During my first year in Toronto, I sold newspapers at the corner of Scott and Wellington Street for three cents each. I remember the tips I used to get for being honest. When the paper went up to a nickel, I had to ask Pinky, my boss, for a raise. He gladly gave me an increase, as I sold more papers for knowing my customers. Later, during my years at Central Technical High School, I washed dishes at Saint Michael’s Hospital every evening and weekend. I worked on a tobacco farm near Chatham and at the Whole Sell Food Market for Kalles and Sharpe during the summers. As a student, I did everything I could to help support my family.
In 1953, I graduated from high school and got my first full-time job as an engineer’s helper. Three years later, I went to work for Eaton’s, where I remained for 40 years. I worked my way up from coal shoveling, eventually becoming the National Environment and Energy Manager. I took on initiatives to teach our staff about being environmentally responsible. I retired from Eaton’s in 1996 and started the Ikeda Consultant Company. My vision for the company was to carry on in the field of Environment Energy and Public Relations. I have devoted my life to volunteering my expertise and to fostering unity and mutual support among the Japanese Canadian community, to raising the status of Japanese Canadians within the Canadian multicultural mosaic, and to the betterment of Japan-Canada relations.
Sid’s main goals are to help build a strong Canada, and to promote harmony and peace by working together. Sid has worked with the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre since 1974 and served as President for nine terms. In 1998, he made sure young directors took on the President position to lead JCCC into the 21st century, and became Special Ambassador to start the outreach program to work together with the community at large. Sid was also very active in the centennial celebration, and was a founding member of the JCCC Foundation, the Japanese and Canadian Community Network Organization, Momiji Health Care Society and the Canadian Multicultural Council- Asians in Ontario. Sid has been on the advisory council to the Metropolitan Police Chief through the tenure of the last four chiefs. He has chaired and participated in countless fundraising events for charities for over 25 years. Sid was also a Boy Scouts leader for five years. He joined Rotary in 1981 and chaired the Monte Carlo fundraising event for Easter Seals with Rotary and the JCCC for 15 years. Sid volunteered with the Ontario Crippled Children Society Rehab Centre every Wednesday for nine years. He ran 10 kilometre runs to raise funds for many international needs.
Sid has received countless awards and recognitions, including The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays from the Emperor of Japan, Japanese Government Award, Governor General Caring Canadian Award, Ontario Volunteer Service Award, as well as awards from Toronto City Council, Police Department, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.
– Allie Shier
Watch ''The long journey home for the Murakami family'' from CBC Archive
Watch Sid Ikeda Plays Danny Boy at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre's 50th Anniversary
Sid Ikeda's award of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Ray, Consulate General of Japan in Toronto
Watch more videos of Sid Ikeda on the Crestwood's website