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When Three Doors Close Another One Opens

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

22 March 2023

This is an update from the Healing Fund for Japanese Canadians. *This article contains references to sexual abuse of minors.

Dear Community Members, We are working with the NAJC and the Anglican Church to support survivors of Mr. Nakayama’s sexual abuse. Mr Nakayama was an Anglican priest who is known to have abused boys from the 1930s to the 1980s. His actions had been covered up for decades. The Healing Fund for Japanese Canadians was established in 2021 and the Project Office has been collecting information on Mr. Nakayama’s abuse history. We have faced challenges from some members of the community who do not know the best path forward. Silence has been the dominant approach to healing this pain since the 1930s. For most survivors and families this approach has not worked. Our recent work Survivors have asked for openness in telling the truth surrounding Mr. Nakayama and his crimes. They have voiced their support for correcting the historical record that has been written predominately in support of Mr. Nakayama. In our search for information we approached the Anglican Church for information. The Dioceses (Anglican regional administrative districts) of New Westminster and Calgary have yet to provide their records. The Healing Fund has approached other archives for information. We have done this to ensure a complete picture of Mr. Nakayama’s life is known and that the continued trauma of survivors can be remedied, in part, by letting them know that Mr. Nakayama’s true nature will be brought to light. Nothing has been more painful for some survivors to know that Mr. Nakayama’s prolific abuses were kept secret (Testimonies 5, 16&17, 19). With continued documentation of this history we hope to correct the historical record so future generations can have a full understanding of the crimes committed and the impact these have had on families and communities across Canada. Following the September 2022 Bulletin-Geppo story (on page 15, where we shared our search into the 1952 Okinawa abuse incident) we contacted the Diocese of Hawai’i. We asked their archivist Mr. Ching and Bishop Fitzpatrick for information regarding Mr. Nakayama. We did this because in 1952 the Anglican Church in Japan (Nippon Sei Ko Kai) was overseen by the American Episcopal Diocese of Hawai’i. On December 7, 2022, the Diocese responded that not a single document pertaining to Mr. Nakayama’s expulsion in 1952 was found. The Diocese of Hawai’i suggested the Episcopal archives in Austin, Texas, might have more information. On March 9, 2023, we received this response from the Episcopal archives:

Dear Peter…We have reviewed our holdings around the Episcopal missions to Japan and the missionary district of Hawaii and did not find any (emphasis added) references to Mr. Gordon Goichi Nakayama.

This result is very informative because it demonstrates that evidence of Mr. Nakayama’s abuses were hidden, destroyed or forgotten. It is documented that Mr. Nakayama was exposed molesting a child in Okinawa and was sent home to Canada in disgrace. And yet it is incredibly difficult to find church records on this decision, or records of Mr. Nakayama at all. Mr. Nakayama’s personal files likely contain much information but they remain closed in the private archives at UBC until 2095. We asked for clarification from UBC on this ban-on-access to the Nakayama archives. A lawyer for UBC confirmed that access has been denied by both UBC and by the donor of these materials. The Healing Fund views this restriction to be a deeply saddening decision. It hides materials from survivors, their families and the community for an unreasonably long time while survivors and their families are experiencing continued trauma and mental health issues related to Mr. Nakayama’s crimes. Three doors that have closed are the archives at the Diocese of Hawai’i, Austin’s Episcopal Archives, and UBC’s Archives. But one has opened in the most unlikely of places: Mr. Nakayama’s own published books. In his life Mr. Nakayama published many books that chronicle his missionary trips. We recently acquired a book published in 1958, shipped in from Tokyo (see image below). This book details Mr. Nakayama’s missionary trips across America in the 1950s. Importantly, these are the first trips Mr. Nakayama is allowed to go on after being exposed as a sexual abuser to the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Episcopalian Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada. This book will now be added to our list of materials to be translated.

In Closing The impact of clergy sexual abuse can be profound and long-lasting. Survivors may experience a range of emotional, psychological, and physical effects, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even suicide. The abuse can also damage the trust and faith that people have in their support networks, religious institutions and leaders. It is important to speak out about clergy sexual abuse, report instances of abuse, and work to prevent future harm. This includes supporting survivors, holding abusers accountable for their actions, and promoting healing and justice for all those affected by this devastating form of abuse. Ultimately, addressing clergy sexual abuse requires a coordinated effort from individuals, religious institutions, and society as a whole. It requires a commitment to listening to and supporting survivors, holding abusers accountable, and creating a culture of transparency, accountability, and healing. By working together, we can help prevent future abuse and support those who have been impacted by this devastating form of abuse. Peter Wallace Facilitator / Project Manager Project Office of the Healing Fund for Japanese Canadians

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