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Author Diana Morita Cole’s program “Echoes of Nikkei Dispersal” offered attendees the opportunity to learn lessons pertaining to global ethnic and cultural diversity. Photo: Christen Sasaki

By Rita Takahashi

Author Diana Morita Cole addressed experiences of Japanese Americans, Japanese Canadians and Japanese Latin Americans during an evening program titled “Echoes of Nikkei Dispersal” in San Francisco’s Japantown on Oct. 26.

The hour-and-a-half-long program, held in Union Bank’s Hospitality Room, was organized, sponsored and made available by the Japanese American National Library. Additional support was provided by professors from San Francisco State University.

In her program, Cole brought many elements together, including international, global and domestic agendas. Audience members also learned many lessons pertaining to global ethnic and cultural diversity.

Specifically, Cole revealed her own life journey, beginning from her birth in Minidoka, a U.S. concentration camp located in Southern Idaho during World War II. She identified the struggles and challenges one faces with dual (and multi) cultures.

In addition, the author read portions from her 2015 book “Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit,” which revealed aspects of her life experiences from the perceptual lens of her childhood.

During the discussion, Cole also connected the exclusion and concentration camp experiences (at Lemon Creek, Canada) of Canadian author Joy Kogawa, as well as read a poem by Kogawa.

The discussion conveyed what happened to Japanese Canadians, Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin Americans when governments passed policies targeting persons of Japanese ancestry and removed them from their homes, excluding them from communities/large areas and negating liberty, justice and freedom.

Cole also expressed the impacts such discriminatory policies had on such individuals. Japanese Canadians, for example, were excluded from returning to their original West Coastal residences until 1949, four years after the conflicts of World War II came to an end.

Following her presentation, Cole screened and discussed the short film “Hidden Internment,” which reveals the plight of kidnapped and incarcerated Japanese Latin Americans, including her brother-in-law, Art Shibayama.

Cole is a member of the Nelson Storytelling Guild and the Uphill Writing Group in Canada. She is also on the steering committee of the Kaslo Japanese Canadian Museum and a contributing member of “Nikkei Images.” She currently resides in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada.