We have all watched David Suzuki tirelessly inform about science, technology and the environment for decades. His work, in all the forms he does, is well regarded not only here in Canada but around the world. Last week, I received a sample of his new book – A Letter to My Grandchildren – via email. This sample shows not only Suzuki dedication to bring facts to the public’s attention but also includes a deep passion to inform his grandchildren in a future date.
Page 2 – In Search of Roots
Even though three of you—Tamo, Midori, and Jonathan—
were born in the 1990s, you will spend most of your lives
in the twenty-first century. And, of course, Ganhi and Tiis,
your entire lives will be spent in the twenty-first century.
The stories from my life that I will recount here will seem
like the stuff of history books to you because what is my
living memory you only know through such books, movies,
Even though we live in a multicultural society, Suzuki’s narrative here adds a new and unique perspective to the discourse of history. And the fact that he has shaped it in a letter to his grandchildren makes the book easy to read.
My father’s parents never did make a trip, or even a
phone call, back to Japan. After being kept in camps during
World War II, my mother’s parents decided to leave Canada.
They were dropped off in Hiroshima, which had been flattened
by the first atomic bomb ever dropped over a city. I can
only imagine the suffering of the terribly injured survivors,
who had radiation burns and injuries that had never been
encountered before and needed medical help, food, and shelter.
All of Japan had been hammered by war, but Hiroshima
was in a category by itself. Not surprisingly, my elderly
grandparents both died less than a year after their return.
This should be a fantastic read. The sample sent is all too brief but if the book includes more of the information Suzuki wishes to impart to his grandchildren in the manner he has done so then it should be a great book.
When my grandparents arrived in Vancouver, it was a
resource town built on mining, fishing, and logging and
drew people from all over the world. It was a rough-andtumble
place, where racist assumptions about people of
color were embedded in the culture. After all, when Europeans
first arrived in North America, they claimed to have
“discovered” it, despite the hundreds of thousands of people
living in rich and varied cultures all across the continent.
Because the indigenous people were completely alien to the
incoming Europeans, they were dismissed as “primitive.”
The newcomers were focused on finding wealth and had
little interest in the indigenous people, flora, and fauna
except as resources. They regarded indigenous people as
savages who should be forced to adopt European ways. This
attitude continued through the twentieth century, when
indigenous children were sent to residential schools and
their languages and traditional ways were officially banned.
Asians and blacks, too, were considered different and
assumed to be inferior and so were not given the right to
vote or, in many parts of British Columbia, to own property.
They were also prohibited from entering certain professions,
such as medicine and pharmacy. That was British Columbia
and much of Canada in the early twentieth century.
A Letter to My Grandchildren by David Suzuki should be a brilliant read when it is released in 2015. The writing style is light yet the information it gives provides is unique and enlightening.