Tomomi Okutake originally immigrated to Canada in 1907, and was employed with the CPR in Vancouver. He then moved to Hardiville, Alberta in 1911, and resided there until enlisting with the Princess Pat Canadian Infantry in 1917. After serving two years in Britain and France, he was honourably discharged, receiving the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Upon his return to Canada, Tomomi began his work in the No. 6 coal mine. In 1930, he travelled back to Japan to marry Tsuru Genka, and together they moved back to Hardieville where Tomomi continued his work.
The No. 8 coal mine site was moved to Lethbridge shortly after, where he continued as a miner until his retirement in 1953. Once Japanese citizens were allowed to live in Lethbridge, the couple moved into the city. Tomomi and Tsuru Okutake resided in the City of Lethbridge from 1961 until Tomomi’s passing in 1971.
Throughout his time in Alberta, Tomomi became a founding member of the Lethbridge Buddhist Temple and the Lethbridge Honpa Buddhist Temple. He also played a big part in being the interpreter or spokesperson for those who couldn’t speak English in the Okinawan community.
After Tomomi passed away, Tsuru enrolled at the Community College to learn English as a second language. She joined the Senior Centre and learned new skills such as weaving and dancing. In her final years, she lived in the Taber Long Term Care unit where she later passed away in 1990.
The Okutake family had two adopted daughters, Patricia Yuriko (Sassa) and Esther Tsuru (Ayukawa).
Scope and Content
2017.1025/001 Okutake Family Photographs: Tomomi Okutake, Tsura Okutake, Chiyoryo Ishimine, Toshiko Ishimine, Tomotaka Ishimine, Choryo Ishimine, Toshiko Higa, Chiyosei Genka, Yoneko Genka, Chiyotasu Genka, Dorothy Goshinmon, Chiyoki Okutake, Chotei Okutake, Art Okutake, Pat Okutake, Chokei Okutake, Guiso Oshiro, Vicki Okutake.
2017.1025/002 Citizens certificate, statement of service, passport, biography, etc.
2017.1025/003 Biographies of Issei Pioneers from Okinawa to Southern Alberta.