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WATARI DORI: A Bird of Passage

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When Japan entered World War II, Irene Tsuyuki was incarcerated with her parents in the government's internment camp of Tashme, in the B.C. interior. After the war she was repatriated to Japan, leaving her own country behind. Filmmaker Linda Ohama documents the remarkable story of how Irene Tsuyuki lost her citizenship and reclaimed it, and the invaluable contributions she has made to Canada ever since.

Today Irene Tsuyuki is married with grown children and grandchildren. Her son now runs the family greenhouse business in Surrey, B.C., but Irene is very much the centre of community life.

This documentary also traces the role of Winifred Awmack, an extraordinary woman who taught Tsuyuki and many other Japanese students in Tashme over 50 years ago. It was Awmack who gave the Japanese students happy memories, sustaining their spirits both during the war and long afterwards when some of them left for Japan.

Winifred was one of Irene's lifelines to Canada. Although they have stayed in touch sporadically over the years through Christmas cards and letters, it was not until the making of this film that the two were reunited. Half a century after they first met in Tashme, Irene and Winifred return there to relive their memories and come to terms with the past.

Linda Ohama's haunting film The Last Harvest was honoured with five international awards and has been invited to 24 festivals around the world. "WATARI DORI" is a poignant testimony to the strength of character of two very different Canadian women.


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