About the Doc

With three Canadian government apologies to his parents and stepparents for past racist actions, filmmaker Mitch Miyagawa has the most apologized-to family in the country-maybe even the world. But what do they mean, to his parents, his young children and to his country? "A Sorry State" chronicles his life-changing journey of discovery.  But is saying "sorry" enough? Can a word fix past atrocities and heal victims' pain, or is talk cheap?

In 1988, Mitch Miyagawa’s Japanese-Canadian family received an apology from then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, who apologized for the internment of 22,000 Japanese Canadians during WWII.
In addition to the apology for his father's forced relocation and internment, Mitch’s stepmother Etheline was a young victim of residential schools for Aboriginal children and his stepfather, Harvey, is the grandson of Chinese immigrants who were burdened with a hefty head tax. Both families were forced to live apart from their loved ones. both families have received official apologies from the Canadian government.

In "A Sorry State," Mitch witnesses how his parents, stepparents and others have dealt with their painful pasts, as some choose to ignore, some to forgive and some to remain bitter.
In addition, he discovers a worldwide wave of official government apologies, and delves into Canada's latest attempts at reconciliation.

Read Mitch's blog

Hear Mitch on CBC's The Current

Watch the Doc


Meet the Filmmaker


Mitch Miyagawa is a writer and filmmaker who lives in Whitehorse, Yukon, with his wife and two sons. Miyagawa has won Western and National Magazine Awards for his non-fiction writing. His 2009 essay, A Sorry State, was recently anthologized in the Aboriginal Healing Foundation’s Truth and Reconciliation series. The essay is the basis of this documentary. He was a finalist for the CBC Literary Awards in non-fiction in 2011. He has also written extensively about his home in the Yukon in Up Here and North of Ordinary magazines. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.

As a playwright, his play The Plum Tree was widely produced in Canadian theatres, including ATP’s playRites Festival. The Plum Tree was published in 2004 by Playwrights Canada Press.

Mitch has written, directed, and produced numerous short films, including Our Town Faro, for the NFB, winner of the Northern Sights Competition. A Sorry State is his first feature-length film.


The Filmmaker's POV

Mitch Miyagawa discusses his ambivalent relationship to the notion of apology after he delivered the opening plenary for the Association of Ontario Health Centre's 2010 convention in Niagara Falls, Ontario