I was born in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada where my parents were deeply involved in ministering to, and advocating for, Japanese Canadian internees who were imprisoned there during World War II. After moving to Ontario, following the forced dispersal of Japanese Canadians east of the Rockies, my father and mother and our family set off for Japan, the country in which my parents had lived for three years prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War. While growing up in Tokushima City on Shikoku Island, I learned to speak Japanese fluently, shifting between the two languages–English and Japanese–with ease. I attended Canadian Academy in Kobe City for Grade 3, but was home-schooled during Grades 4-7. I particularly enjoyed returning to CA and living in residence during my high school years. At that time, the three hundred or so students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 were representative of twenty-four nationalities. Although the majority of students came from the United States, with a few from Canada, others were from countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. This exposure to other cultures in my formative years contributed to shaping my worldview.
After graduating from Wilfred Laurier University, my outlook on life continued to evolve during the two years my husband Dennis and I (newlyweds) taught secondary school in Guyana, South America and Jamaica, WI under the auspices of the Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO). At the end of our two year contract, we came back to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, where we continued to live for the next four years and where our two sons were born. We then settled permanently in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I was happy to be living in close proximity to the sea, once again, and the one place in the world where I could claim to have deep ancestral roots.
My contacts with international students did not end with our return from the Caribbean, however. Over a twenty-year period, while living here in Nova Scotia, my husband and I were privileged to act as host parents to over fifty-five ESL (English as a Second Language) students representing eleven different countries and the province of Quebec. Many stayed with us for three to nine months duration, but a few remained as part of our family much longer. The last of our students, from China, lived with us for four years–at which time she graduated from university, and with our encouragement, set out on new adventures.
Although I never intended to write stories, poems or novels about diversity or multiculturalism per se, my personal experiences have crept into some of my work through the settings I’ve used, or the teens I’ve known, or the themes I’ve developed that have dealt, in particular, with identity issues held in common by many “third culture kids”, who are also known today as “cross-cultural kids”.
I’m currently living in the community of Dartmouth within Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, and although my siblings and those of my husband reside in Ontario and we miss them, we’re happy that our two sons and daughter-in-law have chosen to live in this beautiful province, each of them a short drive away from our current home.