Kai, Sue

Sue Kai (nee Sumi Matsugu) was born January 26, 1925 in Alert Bay, British Columbia.  Her parents had emigrated from Fukuoku, Japan to Canada, settling in the remote community to work.  Sue lived there for just one year, as her parents decided to move to Vancouver to pursue better opportunities for their children.  They lived in the heart of Little Tokyo, and Sue remembers an idyllic early life, punctuated by school (which she loved) and playtime with her friends.  All that changed on December 7, 1941:  the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, and in short order Sue and her family began to feel the restrictions, culminating in their internment.  Sue and her family were sent to Kaslo, deep in British Columbia’s interior.  As Sue was a high school graduate, it was decided that she would become a teacher.  She was sent to a separate internment camp at New Denver, where she received three weeks of teacher training.  She went on to build bonds with her students as those families struggled through the dark days of the war – and imprisonment by their own country.  As the war was nearing its end, Sue and her family were relocated to Ontario; they were on a cross country train trip for five days, arriving in Toronto’s Union Station on VE Day.  They started life again in their new home.  During the war Sue had met a young Japanese-Canadian man named Sam, and the two of them married in 1948.  They went on to have two sons, as they built a prosperous and happy life in Ontario.  Sue’s son Brian shared this with the Crestwood Oral History Project, as his own wife’s father Min Yatabe had also visited Crestwood on a number of occasions.  Family history is a reflection of the larger Canadian experience, and Sue’s and Min’s stories are a testament to that.