Mr Iwasa said that he had an ordinary life but he is an extraordinary person being the oldest resident at Nikkei Home. This October 24th, Mr. Iwasa will be turning 105 years old. This puts him in the distinguished category of being one of approximately 6,000 persons in Canada who were one hundred years or older according to the 2011 census. There has been an increasing numbers of persons aged 100 years over in recent years. In 2006, the numbers of centenarians in Canada was 4,635. In 2011, British Columbia has the 3rd highest number of centenarians with 875 persons aged 100 years or older, while Ontario has the highest number with 2,030, followed by Quebec with 1,345 centenarians.
Mr. Iwasa was born in Cumberland on Vancouver Island in 1909. He was the 4th oldest of eight children all were born in Cumberland. His parents arrive in Canada around 1900. This may make Mr. Iwasa one of the oldest Nisei alive today.
Along with his brothers and sisters, he attended school in Cumberland. Although Mr. Iwasa did not particularly like school, he graduated from high school and attended the University of British Columbia for one year; but alas he found that it was not to his liking so he returned to Cumberland.
In 1942, Mr. Iwasa, his wife and his parents were interned to the Minto and Bridge River area. And at that time, his siblings went east to Ontario and Quebec. Mr. Iwasa worked in the sawmill in the Minto area until 1949 when the Japanese were allowed to return back to the West Coast. However while others returned, Mr. Iwasa, his wife and his parents went to live in Devine B.C. He worked in a sawmill which was owned by the same person who owned the sawmill in the Minto and Bridge River during the war years. It was 1964 before Mr. Iwasa and his wife moved to Vancouver, his parents had passed away in Devine.
In Vancouver, Mr. Iwasa worked with a Japanese wholesale food company which shipped food to Vancouver. The company distributed the Japanese goods to various food outlet stores throughout Canada wherever Japanese food was in demand. He retired from the company at the age of 75 and lived in east Vancouver with his wife until 1994 when she passed away. In 2005, Mr. Iwasa moved to New Sakura so and six years later (2011) he moved into Nikkei Home.
On my visit with Mr. Iwasa, he stated that he feels very comfortable in this residence which meets all his daily needs. Breakfast and dinners are looked after. He makes his own lunch. He has two nephews and their families frequently visit him and enjoys going out with them.
Mr. Iwasa has been very healthy all his life. These days, although he walks with a cane in his apartment and a walker for longer distances, and except for his poor hearing (hearing aid) and needs a magnifying glass to read small print, he has been relatively healthy all his life He attributes his longevity to keeping away from stress and being able to adapt to adversities as he comes upon them.
From all of us at Nikkei Home, the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, we wish Mr. Iwasa continuing good health with many more birthdays.
At Nikkei Home, there are 3 other persons beside Mr. Iwasa who are 100 years or older. These four individuals, truly represent the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society’s motto of “kenko de nagaiki” – Living a long and healthy life with vitality.
Written by Tom Teranishi
Translated by Tomoko Koike
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