­National Association of Japanese Canadians: Board Directions

The National Executive Board (NEB) is committed to keeping our membership informed and encouraging other Japanese Canadian organizations to become members as well as individuals. The NAJC website provides information on how to become a member to benefit in the national network, participate in the national conference, and access our endowment and community funds.

President’s Report
The National Executive Board has been working on the review of our strategic plan and have now designed a tactical plan for 2016 to address sustainability, funding sources, promotion and long term planning, membership growth, leadership and succession building, programs, operational and networking practices.

On-going communication with the National Council through teleconferences will also help the organization to improve on collaboration and engagement rather than meeting once a year at the AGM. Moving forward, the Executive Director Ken Noma and National Administrator Jim Suzuki are instrumental to the positive changes being made in implementing the tactical plan and staying connected with the member organizations. In addition, the NEB has continued to provide leadership to the NEB standing committees and identifying ways to strengthen the national presence of the NAJC.

Vice President’s Report
Tosh Kitagawa has brought to the NAJC his extensive business experience and contacts as Vice-President. Hormel Foods of America, has selected him to be the main Canadian contact within the Nikkei community. This access has helped the GVJCCA and other member organizations to take advantage of free supplies of Spam and related products to make Spam Musubi as an important fund raising vehicle.

Concurrently with the NEB meeting, he organized a forum in Vancouver on May 30th, 2015 that focused on human rights issues affecting Asian Canadian elders. Participating organizations such as: UBC, Tonari Gumi, Nikkei Place Seniors and S.U.C.C.E.S.S., shared knowledge and best practices that identified common threads between communities. It is hoped that a follow up meeting will lead to collective strategies and action.

Tosh is the National Executive Board’s liaison on the Community Renewal Fund Committee created by the National Council at the September 2015 AGM in Victoria. In addition, he is pursuing mutually beneficial educational initiatives with Densho – the Japanese American Legacy Project. He is working on preparations for the NAJC booth at this summer’s Powell Street Festival as part of a major initiative to inform the larger community of the programs and initiatives of our organization.

Treasurer’s Report
Kevin Okabe is the Treasurer for the organization, and responsible for managing the accounting, budgeting and reporting functions for the organization. The NAJC’s investments are managed by Connor, Clark and Lunn Private Capital Ltd., and under their management, the funds have grown to $4.5 million with an average annualized return of 9 percent, net of fees.

The NAJC has experienced a significant growth in activities over the past few years, coupled with an increasing membership as well as a corresponding increased demand on our funds. The challenge the organization will face is to be able to meet all of these fiscal requirements during times of significant market volatility, while being mindful of the long term requirements for the organization and community.

Secretary and Community Development Report
Susan Matsumoto is the Secretary and chair of the Community Development Committee. Since 2009, the Community Development Committee has provided support for local initiatives that focus on building capacity within the Japanese Canadian community. A call for applications goes out once per year in the spring, and successful applicants are notified in early summer. Applications for Community Development funding are only available to full and supporting members of the NAJC.   Summary reports of previously approved  projects are posted on the members only section of the  NAJC website.

Members of the Community Development Committee are Steve Seller from The Lakehead Japanese Cultural Centre, Kana Nemoto from the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba, and this year, we are pleased to welcome Michiko Yano-Shuttleworth from the Toronto National Association of Japanese Canadians.

Constitution and Resolutions Committee
Chaired by Lillian Nakamura Maguire, NEB Director with committee members, Steve Seller, Lakehead Japanese Cultural Association and Morgan Elander, Kamloops Japanese Canadian Association, reviewed the bylaws and most of these recommended changes were passed at the 2015 AGM.


  • Ensuring motions for AGM and Special General Meetings are valid
  • Reviewing NAJC Articles, Constitution and Bylaws as advised by NEB or membership through the NEB and provide recommendations to the NEB for presentation to the Membership

The addition of one new member to the Committee is needed. Further editing changes have been identified.

ACTION: Members are asked to review the current Bylaws and identify any recommended changes to NEB by March 31, 2016. These will be reviewed by the C&R Committee and recommendations made for presentation at the 2016 AGM.

Heritage Committee
The NEB Heritage Committee chaired by Lisa Uyeda, Director and BC Parks have partnered to update and move the Yellowhead-Blue River Japanese Canadian Internment and Road Camp point of interest signs in Mount Robson Park. The Committee and BC Parks would like to complete this project for an unveiling of the signs in 2017 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Japanese Canadian Internment in BC. Research is underway and the Committee is seeking information, stories, and photographs of the BC road camps.

The committee is comprised of 5 members: Lisa Uyeda (Vancouver), Noreen Kuroyama (Toronto), Lillian Nakamura Maguire (Whitehorse), Kevin Okabe (Calgary), Bryon Wilfert (Toronto)

Membership Committee
The Membership Committee is chaired by Valerie Hoshizaki-Nordins of Winnipeg and ably assisted by Tracey Suzuki of Winnipeg and Vivian Rygnestad of Vancouver. The Committee is tasked with the responsibility of:

  • recruitment of new members (individual, supporting, full members)
  • retaining the current membership
  • monitor that members are in good standing and
  • screen new applicants for suitability to the NAJC

Within the last year, the NAJC welcomed three new member organizations (Nanaimo, Regina and Nikkei National Museum). We hope to add more members this year and thus maintain the reputation of being the only national Nikkei organization in Canada.

Young Leaders Committee (JCYL)
The Young Leaders Committee (JCYL) is comprised of Ren Ito (Toronto), Angela Kruger (Vancouver), Bryan Tomlinson (Ottawa), MacKenzie Sato (Winnipeg), Jessica Whitehead (Toronto), and Michiko Kajita (Calgary), chaired by Director Lisa Schoenhofer (Ottawa). Monthly meetings are held through SKYPE and looking for representatives from Edmonton and other small JC centres.

The JCYL funding for local initiatives will be launched in April 2016 with application forms posted on their website. Deadline date for application forms will be June 2016. More details will be provided in the Spring. Plans are also being discussed in identifying a project that can link young leaders across Canada.



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