Esther Matsubuchi

@ Social Adversity

Esther Matsubuchi  of North Vancouver is the 2017 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the Social Adversity category.

In the 1940s, Esther was one of the thousands of Canadian citizens interned in WW2 BC Prison Camps along with others of Japanese descent. Esther and her family faced racism and poverty during this time, something they would continue to encounter after the war.

Esther’s family eventually moved to Ontario where Esther would go on to graduate from the University of Toronto’s Dental Hygienist Program, marry and have children. While Esther was pregnant with her second child, she was hit by a car on an icy winters day and suffered serious injuries including a shattered femur. Thankfully she recovered, however life remained challenging. Her husband’s job required the family to move 17 times across four continents, adapting to new cultures, languages and traditions throughout.

The family finally settled in Vancouver in 1979. It was only a few years later that Esther was diagnosed with stage-2 breast cancer, and shortly after diabetes. During this time her husband’s health also began to deteriorate. Like many times before, Esther showed great resilience and worked hard to overcome these challenges.

In her 70s, Esther became a social justice advocate and started to attend meetings and rallies, protesting on behalf of her family and individuals who had been the victims of sexual abuse as children. Esther also volunteers for numerous community and school organizations and participates in door-to-door campaigns for local organizations like the Heart Fund, Kidney Foundation and Canadian Cancer Society. She fundraises for Run for The Cure and North Shore Relay for Life and participates in cancer-awareness events. She inspires women who’ve survived breast cancer to live active and healthy lives. Esther herself has been an avid dragon boater for over 20 years, as part of the Abreast in a Boat team.

Despite all she has been through, Esther has fought hard, not just for herself and her family, but for many others who have faced adversity. Esther is a beloved mother of four and grandmother to 8, and was a devoted caregiver to her late husband.