Reel NW

About the Film

About the Film

After a family reunion, Japanese-Canadian filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns embarks on a journey of self-discovery to find out why everyone in his Japanese-Canadian family married interracially after his grandparents’ generation.

Using a mix of live action and animation, “One Big Hapa Family” explores why 95 percent of Japanese-Canadians--more than any other ethnic group--marry interracially and how their mixed children perceive their unique multiracial identities.

The stories of our generations of a Japanese-Canadian family to come to life through animation by some of Canada’s brightest independent animators, including Louise Johnson, Ben Meinhardt, Todd Ramsay, Kunal Sen, Jonathan Ng, and the filmmaker himself.

“One Big Hapa Family” makes us question: Is interracial mixing the end of multiculturalism as we know it?

About the Filmmaker

About the Filmmaker

Jeff Chiba Stearns is an award-winning animation and documentary filmmaker. Born in Kelowna, British Columbia, of Japanese and European heritage, he graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design with a degree in Film Animation in 2001. Soon after, he founded Meditating Bunny Studio Inc., which specializes in creating animated, documentary, and experimental films geared at both children and adults.

Chiba Stearns's films include the animated shorts “Kip and Kyle” (2000), “The horror of Kindergarten” (2001), “What Are You Anyways?” (2005), “Yellow Sticky Notes (2007),” and “Ode to a Post-it Note” (2010). “One Big Hapa Family" (2010), which uses a mix of live action and animation, is his first feature film.

One Big Hapa Family


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I just saw your movie One Big Hapa Family and found very entertaining and informative. I know no other type of family life, as you many people from the Caribbean are of inter-racial ethnicity. Your uncle Cyril came from a country where inter-racial marriage is the norm.

Being multiracial is very accepting. The only time I remember being aware of my ethnicity is when we moved from Trinidad to the Brooklyn NY back in the 1960s during the time of the Black Panthers and race riots. Didn't know I was "different" until my school-mates made fun of my accent and always wanted to fight me since I look more Asian then than no.

Coming to Canada via Montreal, was also interesting as I now had to deal with the French. They tend to have a lack of tolerance of aboriginal people, so they would say "go back to the reserve", like I knew what a reserve was. Didn't know anything about this type of treatment of people. So tolerated that for a while, and survived.

Finally moved to Vancouver in 1975 where the racial attitude toward Aboriginal and now Phillipina . My two sons are in at time of life where being multiracial tend to be the norm. Their dad has East Indian marriages. Now, my grand-daughter is 1/2 Japanese and the other 1/2 Chinese/Black/Spanish/Carib Indian/Scottish/East Indian. She is a true representative of a walking United Nations and the New Canadian person.

Its time for the Canadian government to change their censor forms regarding the ethnicity and race. I find the new immigrants are less tolerant and we start all over again!!


This is a very interesting article that you have posted here on your blog. the affects of a war are felt by the people of that region for more than one generation. The people from war ravaged area are most often in a very troubled state of mind. I am deeply touched with the information on your article.


An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a friend
who was doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him...
lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thank YOU for
the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time
to discuss this matter here on your internet site.


This film maker asks the question why do so many Japanese Canadians marry inter-racially. Well if you have not noticed, the majority of the Japanese Canadians who intermarry are marrying Europeans or European Canadians. Maybe I am looking at this the wrong way, but I think it has to do with self-hate issues or maybe these Japanese Canadians are marrying European Canadians because they just want to fit in. I live in Vancouver and a lot of the Asian women I know prefer European men to Asian men. Japanese Canadians like other Canadians are raised in a western culture where we are constantly bombarded with images of Caucasians. Lets face it, some visible minority Canadians have been brainwashed into thinking that their own appearance is not as attractive or good enough as Europeans. This would explain the sudden rise in Asian Canadian women going through surgery to change their eye shape. Many visible minorities in Canada think that through mixing their children will be more attractive, therefore some visible minorities believe that they are not as attractive as European Canadians.


It probably makes a difference how close to the war people were born to the war. You obviously have never been discriminated against so you have no appreciation just how difficult people had it and how they wanted to leave that part of their life behind.


Actually, that's what you notice and not what may be. In fact, a large percentage of Japanese marry other Asians but it's probably not noticeable to you. What is true however is that the Japanese community is small and spread out so it's not unusual for people in the community not to marry other Japanese. Where there is far more Japanese to Japanese marriage is in Hawaii which is still bombarded with the same media images but where there is a large population of Japanese.


I don't know anyone who gets married so that they can genetically engineer a "perfect child" like you are suggesting. Neither do I paint an entire culture with the idea that everyone hates themselves.

In a small immigrant community surrounded by attitudes and stereotypes, you tend to hang out with people like yourself with the same experiences and sense of humor thus creating a "Korean American Society" or other similar association. The children that are raised together because of their parents' friendships often see each other as family rather than as a possible date. So often times, they will look elsewhere and that means dating outside of your culture.

It sounds like you are seeing inter-racial dating as some kind of conspiracy. Let me reassure you that it is not. I assumed I'd be marrying Korean. When the time came to start thinking romantically, all I could see for Korean dating prospects is my "oppa" (big brother, son of my mother's friend). Ew!

-a Hapa


I thought the show was well done. I know a number of Canadians with some Japanese heritage.

I also of a mixed marriage - French Canadian and Swedish Canadian. Not a visible minority, but different - perhaps mostly due to my red hair and fair skin...

Some comments about language in the show. Some of those interviewed lamented that they did not learn Japanese from their parents. I lament not having been taught French or Swedish at home. But part of that may be that neither my French or Swedish grandparents taught my parents their "native" language. I think that is probably the most common lament of many people whose parents were not able to learn their hereditary language. Many First Nations people I meet say the same thing. It probably can be rationalized that it is most practical to use the language everyone uses as the common language in your community.

Carry on the brings out thoughts of our past - benefits and things we might like to change...perhaps for our grand-kids if it is too late to do things for our kids....

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