At 8 years old, Grace Eiko Nishikihama was forcibly removed from her Vancouver home and interned with her parents and siblings in the BC Interior. Chiru Sakura—Falling Cherry Blossoms is a moving and politically outspoken memoir written by Grace, now a grandmother, with passages from a journal kept by her late mother, reflecting on their family history, cultural heritage, generational trauma, and the meaning of home.
Grace’s parents settled in Paueru Gai (Powell Street) in Vancouver with great hopes and dreams their future in Canada. In 1942, their dreams were completely shattered when their family—along with more than 22,000 Japanese Canadians on the West Coast—were interned and had their belongings, property and homes confiscated, and then sold off by the Government of Canada.After the war ended, restrictions on Japanese Canadians’ movement continued and the Government ordered anyone of Japanese ancestry to move “east of the Rockies,” or be deported to Japan.
While translating her mother’s journal, Grace began to add her own experiences alongside her mother’s, exploring how generational trauma can endure, and how differently she and her mother interpreted those years of struggle. Grace continues to seek an understanding of her past, while facing both sexism and racism. As an advocate for reconciliation, she openly shares her story with the next generations; throughout, Grace returns to her mother’s teachings of hope and resilience symbolized in the cherry blossoms around what was once their home.