Now 70, [David] Suzuki is still haunted by the childhood memory of being forced with his family from their Vancouver home into an internment camp for Japanese-Canadians a few months after Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
It is a humiliation that he has never been able to completely shake and one that has shaped his character and helped chart the course of his life.
"I've been very ambitious to do well, and part of it is because after the war we were completely impoverished, and my dad said the way out is education and hard work," Suzuki explains during a stop in Toronto to promote his new autobiography. "He said if you're ever going to compete with white people you have to work 10 times harder.
"It's within me," concedes Suzuki, the Canadian-born son of Canadian-born parents of Japanese descent. "When I meet a white person, I still feel that the first thing you're seeing is a Jap."
Oh, come on, Dave. It's not just the white people, you know.