Gary Doi’s parents and older siblings persevered through their detention in Japanese internment camps during the Second World War, and that chapter of his family’s history serves as the cornerstone of his new compilation book, From the Heart.
“We don’t have much, but we have each other, and if we work hard we can have a good future,” Doi recalls his mother telling him and his siblings.
Though Doi wasn’t born until after the war, his family’s experience had a lasting effect on his life.
After his family’s possessions were all confiscated, Doi said they were forced to live among 10 people in a 300 square foot shack, which got to be so cold in the wintertime his family would wake up to see the indoor walls covered in a sheet of ice.
While the notion of interning civilians is a clear human rights violation, it was carried out with little resistance amid the hysteria of the Second World War.
“It was a period of fear, war, and therefore given that kind of climate, (my family members) were fearful that like the United States, relocating and interning Japanese Canadians was the right thing to do in terms of (Canadian) policy.”
But Japan wasn’t the only enemy of the Allies in the Second World War, yet Canadians of Japanese decent were the only ones to be interned.
“So one can also say racism was an element of that policy as well.”
Despite the harsh and prejudicial treatment his family was subjected to, they didn’t complain about their circumstance and stayed focused on moving forward. Upon conclusion of the war, his family was relocated to Slocan, B.C. and moved into “what, in comparison, was a mansion,” even though it had no plumbing or electricity.
“They pulled together, persevered and in some respects thrived. They literally had to start their life over again because during the war they lost all their possessions, their freedom and employment,” he said. “So they had to start from scratch again, and they did.”
After retiring as the superintendent of School District 67 in 2008, Doi decided to publish compilations as a way to continue contributing to the field of education, and he was keen to promote the idea of spreading hope.
From the Heart is his third compilation book, and with each publication he chooses a charity to benefit from the proceeds.
Benefitting from his latest release will be the Cmolik Foundation, which enhances educational opportunities for deserving students.
Doi’s personal story was written under the title Raising Hope, and is the 26th and final story in From the Heart. Its message of persistence and positivity served as the foundation for all stories in the book.
“Each of these stories have a bit of a life of their own,” he said. “My work is trying to spread hope one story at a time.”
Doi will be sharing stories from the book during his presentation Stories of Hope at the Penticton Art Gallery on Nov. 25. He’ll be joined by Penticton author Kathy Pierre, who’s story Chickadee is another story featured in the book From the Heart.
His books will be available at the presentation, and can also be purchased in Penticton at Coles Books, the hospital gift shop, Penticton Art Gallery and Dragon’s Den.