Dr. Henry Sugiyama was turned down by the University of British Columbia 69 years ago, and now at 87 he’s finally getting the chance to be a student there.

Sugiyama is the first student accepted into one of the school’s newest programs, which “aims to tell the oft-neglected stories of Asian Canadians,” according to UBC.

The program is a new minor in Asian Canadian and Asian Migrations Studies and made its debut this fall. “The program was created as part of a tribute to Japanese Canadians who were forced to leave the West Coast during the Second World War, including UBC students who were unable to complete their studies,” says UBC.

In 1945, the Canadian-born Sugiyama was a Kamloops high school student when he applied to UBC, and was sad that he was not accepted, despite his excellent academic record. At that time, Canada’s “War Measures Act still forbid Canadians of Japanese ancestry like [Sugiyama] from living on Canada’s West Coast.”

Sugiyama says his family was uprooted from Vancouver in 1942 and sent to B.C.’s interior.

Ultimately, Sugiyama went to the University of Manitoba, became a doctor, and moved to Toronto.

Even 69 years late, Sugiyama sees being accepted to UBC as a great honour.

This is just one of many steps UBC has taken to make right the wrongs of the past when it comes to Asian Canadians and World War II-era politics.

“We’ve come a long way from being a university that stood by while its own students were forcibly removed from their homes, to establishing a program that focuses on the crucial role of Asian migrants in the formation of our province and nation,” says Prof. Chris Lee, director of the new program.



You haven’t seen happiness until you’ve seen 7 rats in a box of (pet safe) packing peanuts




The Jews of Ancient China —- The Kaifeng Jews

The destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans in 70 AD would create a wave of Jewish diaspora as Jewish rebels were sold into slavery or exiled to locations all over the Roman Empire.  However the spread of Jewish peoples would expand beyond the borders of the Roman world, as Jewish genes can be found all over Europe, Africa, and Asia.  One far flung Jewish community can be found in China, one of the most extreme examples of Jewish immigration in the ancient world.

After the Jewish revolt against Rome many thousands of Jews headed east to enjoy the wealth and riches of the Silk Road to Asia.  Jewish merchant communities sprang up all over Persia, Afghanistan, and Northern India.  One Jewish group traveled as far as Henan Province (Eastern China) and settled in the cosmopolitan city of Kaifeng between 600 – 900 AD.  By the year 1100 the Jews of Kaifeng had established a large and healthy community with a synagogue, communal kitchen, kosher slaughterhouse, ritual bath, and Sukkah (special building used to celebrate the festival of Sukkot).  During the Ming Dynasty the Kaifeng Jews took Chinese surnames which corresponded with the meanings of their original Jewish names.  One Kaifeng Jew, Zhao Yingcheng (Moshe Ben Abram) made his mark in Chinese history by being named the Director of the Ministry of Justice by the Emperor in the mid 1600’s. The religious traditions of the Kaifeng Jews remained the same through most of their history, corresponding exactly to the religious practices of Jews in the west.  However, in the 1860’s the community would be uprooted due to the chaos caused by the Taiping Rebellion.  The synagogue was destroyed and much of the ancient practices of the Kaifeng Jews were lost or forgotten.  The war caused a mini-diaspora of Chinese Jews as they sought refuge all over China.  After the war many Jews returned to Kaifeng to rebuild their community.  Today the Kaifeng Jews still maintain a small community with a rebuilt synagogue.  Today 1,000 Jews still maintain a prosperous community in Kaifeng.

Further Reading:

The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion By Xin Xu

The Haggadah of the Kaifeng Jews of China By Fook-Kong Wong, Dalia Yasharpour

Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng By Xin Xu

The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions: The Legacy of the Jewish Community in China By Tiberiu Weisz

The Jews of China: Historical and Comparative Perspectives edited by Jonathan Goldstein