Introduction to My Website

Mapping My Journey to Home

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My name is Lillian Nakamura Maguire, a second-generation Japanese Canadian, born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. I am a Yukon writer living in Whitehorse, the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.

Writing for me is about finding my “voice”…my feeling voice. Over the last 40 years of my working life, I wrote many things – program evaluation reports, research, curriculum design, academic reports and even a Master’s thesis. I knew how to write in a logical and analytical way, focused on rational thinking.

The very first family story that I shared publicly was the eulogy that I wrote one night sitting next to my mother’s hospital bed in the last days of her life. The words flowed so easily then. I found my public, feeling voice.

I did the writing mainly for me and to share with my husband, son and siblings. The stories shared with siblings have triggered mini-stories and memories and started conversations with them that I am certain would not have happened, if it were not for the stories I shared.

I feel exposed when sharing some of the stories with others outside of my family. My stories are about my Japanese Canadian culture and identity and the underlying Buddhist values that I’m beginning to uncover. My self-consciousness comes from not knowing if people will understand my cultural context.

Perhaps another part comes from feeling like a “misfit” growing up in Regina and wondering what kind of reaction I might get from my stories. Is it possible to describe myself as a writer or a poet or a storyteller? Although I grew up around Japanese-speaking parents, I’m not fluent nor totally comfortable in a Japanese-speaking environment. I operate fully in English, but I don’t feel totally comfortable in my “English shoes” either.

The story of finding my identity as a Japanese Canadian, began when I had the opportunity in 1970 to volunteer after university, in a summer program training women leaders from various Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan. One of the women asked me “Who are you?” – the underlying meaning was where are you from? “Are you Cree?…no”, “Dene?…oh no”. “Then Inuit?” To which I chuckled, “No…no. I’m Japanese Canadian! Born in Regina, but my parents came from Japan.” They peered at me more closely, then without further questions, seemed to accept me.

It was the first time that I realized that I didn’t fit the mainstream and was seen to be different from other “white folks”. During my years working with Indigenous people in northern and southern Alberta and Yukon, I struggled to understand and relate to them more effectively. In that search I began to realize that in order to understand them, I needed to better know myself and my own identity. I also recognized how their struggles to reclaim their culture and language had some parallels to my journey. I certainly had not experienced the trauma and extent of loss that Indigenous people have experienced but I recognized the need to find my own identity as a Japanese Canadian. This was the beginning that led me down the road to exploring my own identity and eventually finding my way “home” to Yukon.

Now, as an “elder”, with a lot more wisdom, and few worries about what others will think, I muster up my courage to put my thoughts and feelings out there in the hopes that the stories will trigger the telling of other people’s stories and create shared understanding among us.

You can follow my journey on the “Map of My Journey to Home“and explore the stories at various locations as your time and interests allow.

Thanks for taking the time to read, listen, watch, reflect and hopefully remember your own stories of home and to share them with your significant others.

Lillian Nakamura Maguire
March 2023