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Testimony 10

An anonymous senior reflects on her family and Mr. Nakayama.
Recorded in 2020.

SURVIVORS’ SISTER: 

 

GG was always with us. He lived in Marpole by our house, before the war. 

 

And during the war, he wasn’t tied to one particular settlement. We saw him often in Slocan. He was a priest there. He led services on Sundays and the rest of the time he did what he wanted. He went other places, too. There were the interior churches and home church visits. There was a church at Slocan, but I’m not sure if they had services at people’s houses. He didn’t have a car. I think he rode a bicycle. He might have made a pilgrimage. He made a lot of trips. He even went to South America.

 

After the war, we had double bunk beds. Two in the bottom, two in the top. In Eire Beach, Cedar Spring, near Chatham. I don’t know how often he came. In Chatham, he just made trips. Why don’t you get a hold of [redacted]? She knows about him. She wanted to expose him when she was in grade 7, but her brother didn’t want her to. 

 

And we saw him in Vancouver. He came back to Holy Cross. And let me see: Father Kominami would tell me “The Canon is at it again!” and that was in the eighties. He would go after the kids after the service. He would chase kids into the bathroom at church. Didn’t go after me. I was never involved. He liked all the boys. 

This is all known stuff. Everybody knew. No one told the police. Oh no. No. I mean, my parents knew, Father Kominami knew, everybody knew what he was doing. But they didn’t stop him. They had meetings and they said they would just not talk about it, and hush it up again, to save face for the Japanese people. Things were different in those days. All these people can now bring up sexual harassment from 50 years ago when someone touched them on their bum. 

Some of my brothers are still pretty mad. I don’t think SURVIVOR1 ever thought he was ok, even though it was a closed case years ago. But when he found out about your [Japanese Canadian Working Group] meeting in [Canadian city], he sent his two daughters and wife to learn more. It affected SURVIVOR2, because he treated his son harshly--more harsh than the others. That’s what we saw.

 

Not just our family was affected. Other young guys were working at a camp, including SURVIVOR's WIFE's brothers, and GG tried to climb into bed with them. They heard about him and laughed and kicked him out. They were a bit older and a Buddhist family. How old were they. Let me see. SURVIVOR's WIFE is quite a bit younger than her brothers. But they told her what had happened. And she just told me that. I don’t know why. 

GG even came to our house in [the Greater Vancouver Regional District]. Yeah! Sure! Twice! The first time, in the early seventies, he was making a house visitation. Unannounced. Maybe he heard at church that SURVIVOR2’s was in town. I don’t know why SURVIVOR2’s and SURVIVOR's WIFE and the whole family were here with SURVIVOR2’s three children. I guess on summer vacation. They didn’t fly. They drove their camper trailer. But they were here. Nakayama was coming down East 24th Street, for a house visitation, walking toward our house and SURVIVOR2 saw him and grabbed his kids and drove far, far away. Before cell phones. I told Nakayama he wasn’t welcome and he left, but it was a long time before they came back to the house that day.

 

And then, in 1980, my mom was only in the hospital one night before she died. He heard about that she was there through Holy Cross Church, and he called. And I told him not to come to the funeral. I think the funeral was held 2-3 days later. Anyway he came to the house. Your uncles went crazy when they saw him coming up the road, and chased him away.

-Anonymized to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned.