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.
Florence attended Ocean Falls Elementary School and was the only Japanese-Canadian student left in her class when all the other Japanese families left. One poignant memory for Florence occurred when her teacher called her a stupid Jap. That left an indelible impression on the young girl that she remembers to this day. Florence never told her mother about the demeaning incident.