|Hide Hyodo was born in Vancouver in 1908 the eldest of eight children of Hyodo Hideichi and Toshi from Ehime ken, Uwajima. She completed elementary and secondary school in South Vancouver. Her elementary school was small and she became well acquainted and good friends with the other school children. As South Vancouver was largely a working neighbourhood, very few students were interested in attending high school. Hide was one of a few that did continue their studies. |
Hide enjoyed her studies at her high school and made many good friends. She did not experience any openly hostile acts of racism except for the occasional snide remarks about her heritage. However, when prejudice against Hide did occur, her Canadian friends always stood up for her.
Hide continued her studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) after her high school graduation. At the time, the UBC campus was located in vacant buildings around the General Hospital in the Fairview neighbourhood. Fees were minimal so Hide could attend UBC with little worry. She enjoyed her studies immensely. However, in Hide's second year of studies, the campus moved out to its current Point Grey campus. To get there from South Vancouver, Hide had to travel two hours one way. Tuition fees also more than doubled.
With these new developments, Hide felt that it was beyond the capacity of her family to continue with her studies. She also had several younger brothers, all of whom took precedence over Hide when it came to education and post secondary training. Wanting to help her family financially, Hide tried to find work as a secretary. During her search, she discovered that she could receive another year of post secondary education through the Teacher's Training School. The school was located near UBC's former Fairview campus, so Hide could travel there easily. Tuition fees were also low. Hide enrolled in the school and she received her teaching certificate at the end of the program in 1926. Shortly after, the BC government made it illegal for any Japanese Canadian to get a teaching certificate, making Hide, at 18 years of age, the only teacher of Japanese descent.
Once she had graduated, Hide had no firm plans for her future. She was offered a job at a Japanese firm which she accepted. However, she was unable to speak Japanese so when she got a call from a Japanese speaking caller, she had to get a bookkeeper at the firm to translate for her.
Soon after Hide started working at the downtown firm, an ad for a teaching position in Richmond appeared in a newspaper. Interested in the ad, Hide applied. She got an immediate response from the secretary of the Richmond School Board and was interviewed soon after. Hide was appointed as a grade one teacher at Lord Byng Elementary School in Steveston, Richmond on October 1, 1926. She struggled with her class as she did not speak Japanese but the students in her class did. This development made her first teaching assignment difficult.
Hide's first classroom had forty four students, but Hide was ambitious and eager to teach. Although the language barrier and inexperience made her first year challenging, Hide made it through the school year and all her students graduated from her class. Hide continued to teach grade one, but she often felt frustrated with the limitations of the school curriculum and with herself. At the end of her third year of teaching, she toyed with the idea of resigning from teaching when she read an ad for a teacher training summer school focusing on English for New Canadians. Hide immediately signed up. The summer school boosted Hide's confidence immensely and she never thought of giving up being a teacher again.
Although a large contingent of the Japanese community in Canada were born and raised in British Columbia, all Japanese Canadians, and all people of Asian descent, were denied the vote. After years of lobbying the BC Provincial government for the vote to no avail, the Japanese Canadian community formed the Japanese Canadian Citizens League (JCCL) around 1935 to work towards enfranchisement. The JCCL was made up of of different chapters around BC. After several meetings, it was agreed that a delegation should go to Ottawa to petition the Federal Government for enfranchisement for Japanese Canadians. The following people were selected to go: Dr Isamu Hayakawa, born in Vancouver but teaching English at the University of Wisconsin, Dr Ed Banno, a dentist practicing in Vancouver, and Minoru Kobayashi, a teenager from Stevenston. And, because they wanted a woman to be part of the delegation, they asked Hide as she was the only Japanese Canadian teacher in BC.
Thinking that she would not be able to get the time off from her classroom, Hide initially declined and suggested that Terry Hidaka go. Terry declined however so Hide timidly approached the principal of her school to ask for the time off. He agreed and he got permission from the school board for Hide to take the time off to go to Ottawa.
Hide and the others of the delegation left for Ottawa on May 16, 1936 on a five day train trip. The delegation stayed with Angus MacInnis, an Independent Labour MP for Vancouver South, and his wife Grace at their home named Ashley Hall. MacInnis was an advocate of civil liberties and he often spoke out against discrimination against Japanese Canadians. The group went on trips to Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal, but every night, they researched and prepared for their upcoming presentation to Parliament. Hide prepared her part of the presentation on education and about her teaching career.
The group gave their presentation to the Elections Franchise Committee of the House of Commons, a group of approximately thirty five people on May 22, 1936. There was initial concern by the Committee that there was no English interpreter, but MacInnis assured the parliament that an interpreter would be unnecessary as all four delegate members spoke perfect English.
While some members of the Committee were sympathetic to Hide and her fellow delegates, a handful were fervently against enfranchisement for people of Asian descent. One of these men was Thomas Reid, a Liberal representing New Westminster. He spoke with a heavy Gaelic accent, making it difficult for the members of the delegation to understand him. They did, however, understand his negative tone. When Dr Hayakawa finished his portion of the presentation quoting Robbie Burns, the "anti-oriental" members of the committee were outraged and, as Hide explained in a future interview, "gave a roar... that would have lifted the roof off".
After days of meeting, the Committee voted against giving Japanese Canadians the right to vote. They felt that since the BC Government had not allowed people of Asian descent the right to vote in provincial elections it would be inappropriate to grant Japanese Canadians the federal vote at that time.
Hide returned to Vancouver and continued teaching at Lord Byng School in Steveston. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour during World War II, the Canadian government called for all Japanese Canadians living near the BC coast be relocated to the BC Interior. All Japanese schools in Vancouver were closed in 1942 and Japanese Canadian families were interned, first at Hastings Park and then later in small ghost towns in the BC Interior.
The closure of these schools and the relocation made Japanese Canadian families concerned that their children would lose access to schools and to their education. The JCCA Committee and Educational Group was formed in order to organize school classes for the BC Security Commission (BCSC). Hide was part of this committee and helped to arrange these classes at Hastings Park for interned children. A call went out for volunteers to come to Hastings Park to teach and there was an overwhelming response. University students came out from UBC to help teach secondary classes. School equipment was secured and partitions were put between each class. Unfortunately, as the classrooms were set up in an arena it was often noisy.
Hide played a large role in these classrooms as she was responsible for directing the volunteer teachers at Hastings Park. Hide was asked to look after the junior grades, grades 1-3, so she set up lesson plans for each day for each of those grades. Hide did this while even though she still taught at Lord Byng in Steveston daily. She would take the interurban tram to Vancouver after school every second day, prepared two days of assignments and then would return home on the tram in time for curfew. As her classroom in Stevenston dwindled to a mere handful of students, Hide felt her time would be better spent at Hastings Park. Although she was entitled to a salary at Lord Byng till the end of June in 1942, she simply left the school to teach at Hastings Park School full time. The school at Hastings Park remained in session until August 1942 when the warm weather and the diminishing population of internees (who were relocated to towns in the interior) contributed to its closing.
Although schooling had been set up in Hastings Park, the BCSC had not organised any schools in the small ghost towns the Japanese Canadian families were sent to in the summer of 1942. Hide was again asked to help organise schools in these internment camps. By September of 1942, schools were organised in vacant buildings. The first one to open was in Kaslo, and the next in Sandon. As with Hastings Park, volunteer teachers were recruited, applications were received and high school graduates were asked to help teach. Since the majority of these volunteers had never taught before, a training session for these volunteers was requested. Two week sessions were held and Hide helped to establish suitable cirriculum for students. She also helped to train and supervise volunteer teachers at the seven internment camps in the BC Interior. The school sessions ran for the next three summers, especially since domestic work was available outside the camp and many female volunteer teachers left to take these jobs. Although Hide intended to only stay on for one year, she ended up staying on the committee for three years.
In 1945, Hide moved east to Ontario. There were several Japanese camps in Neys where they needed teachers to organize classrooms. Hide was asked to help and she agreed. Due to the teacher shortage after the War, the Canadian government allowed Japanese Canadian teachers to teach, relaxing the ban from the 1920s. It wasn't widely publicized, however, so not many Japanese Canadians took advantage of this opportunity.
In 1948, Hide at the age of forty married Reverend K Shimizu. Shimizu was a widower with four children whose wife had died in 1946. Hide's husband was originally from Japan, but had immigrated to Canada to become a minister at the United Church in Eastern Canada. Shimizu was stationed in Toronto at the Church of all Nations where he worked largely with the Japanese Canadian community there. Although she occasionally struggled with the language barrier, Hide immersed herself into her husband's church.
When Hide's husband died in 1968, Hide began to work with the Nisei at the Church on Dovercourt Road in Toronto. She also volunteered at the Red Cross, the JCC, and the Nisei Women's Club.
In 1982 Hide Hyodo Shimizu received the Order of Canada where she was recognized for her dedication to the education of Japanese Canadian children during the evacuation. In 1993 she was again honoured by the Status of Women in Canada, the Secretary of State, and by Eaton's of Canada in their tribute to 32 women who helped shape the history of Canada. In 1997, the Japanese Citizens Community in Steveston paid tribute to Hide by naming a school garden in her honour at the site of the old Lord Byng School.