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Testimony 4

An anonymous account of a youth learning that his grandfather was abused.
Recorded in 2018.

This was told to me by my grandmother. I was talking with her on the phone in 2018 and I told her that I finished Joy Kogawa’s latest book, Gently to Nagasaki. I offered to lend it to her if she wanted to read it too. Joy's books were how my grandmother introduced me to Japanese Canadian history.

 

I asked my grandmother, "have you heard of this pedophile priest in the community during and after the war, Nakayama?” “Yes,” my grandmother said, “Your grandfather was molested by him when he lived in [Southern] Alberta, working on the farm after the war." This was the first time I had heard about "Nakayama" and my grandfather's abuse.

My grandfather passed away years before. My grandmother went on to explain that she was told, by my grandfather, that Nakayama would visit the Japanese Canadian families in Southern Alberta on the farms and often be offered lodging by local families as the distances were great and Nakayama often traveled by bike. It was a great honour to have a priest stay with your family, it was like having God as a guest in your home. My grandfather was 15 at the time and he was sharing a mattress with a similar-aged boy, another farm worker. In my grandmother’s words:

 

Grandpa was working on the farm and the Reverend came over to visit and he was put between the two boys. He molested the other boy first and the boy ran to another room. Grandpa was sleeping and didn’t notice and then he (Nakayama) came over and molested grandpa and your grandpa got up and left the room. Then the next morning grandpa found out that he Nakayama did it to the other boy first and grandpa was really mad and said, “why didn’t you say anything?” Nakayama was a sneaky [expletive].

 

Nakayama left the farm in the morning.

-Anonymized to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned.