There are many memories I have that flood my brain from time to time, but none as poignant as the one I experienced in my Grade 3 class in 1961. That day forever defined how I viewed and respected other people’s property. That day began as any other elementary school day with Mrs. Beet, our teacher conducting our class. When the bell rang for lunch, our books were put away in our desks and the students retrieved our lunches from the cloakroom. After eating lunch, most of the pupils left the classroom to go outside to play. Our teacher had left to join the other teachers in the staff room for lunch. As there were only a few kids left in our classroom, this opened up an opportunity that I could not pass up.
Florence Kabayama, an 8-year-old Japanese-Canadian girl was living in the remote and isolated west coast British Columbian town of Ocean Falls. Life was good here during the late 1930s and early ‘40s. She lived in one of the homes amongst other Japanese families that formed their community, on the steep hillside across from the bay from the community’s chief employer, the pulp and paper mill. The Japanese families lived in their own area on the steep hillside while the Chinese community resided below them. “I remember the steep wooden steps that led up to our homes.” Florence recalled.
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