Muriel Kitagawa


Region: British Columbia
Nisei | Born 1912, Vancouver BC
Died 1974

Bio

Tsukiye Muriel (nee Fujiwara) Kitagawa was born in Vancouver on April 3, 1912 and was raised primarily in New Westminster. She graduated from Duke of Connaught High School and briefly attended UBC. Working with other Nisei anxious about their futures as full-fledged Canadians with the right to vote and work in any profession, Kitagawa helped found The New Age in 1932, the first journal to regularly print the thoughts, emotions and ideals of Canadian-born Japanese Canadians. She was also part of a Nisei writing group,The Scribblers; a notable member of that group was Mark Toyama, writer of the poem Only Powell Street Knows.

In 1939, after having married local Asahi baseball team star, Ed Kitagawa, Muriel began writing in the English language periodical, The New Canadian. Although Kitagawa did not publish a book during her lifetime, Roy Miki edited a posthumous collection of her writing called This Is My Own: Letters to Wes & Other Writings on Japanese Canadians 1941-1948 (Talonbooks, 1985) which consists primarily of letters Kitagawa sent to her brother Wes Fujiwara, a medical student in Toronto, in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour bombing of December, 1941. Miki provided a comprehensive introduction to place Kitagawa’s writing in historical context with a particular emphasis on the fact that an overwhelming majority of the 21,000 individuals of Japanese descent who were uprooted and dispossessed on the West Coast were naturalized or Canadian-born citizens. Muriel Kitagawa died in 1974.