BC Redress Update

L to R, Lorene Oikawa, John Horgan, Susanne Tabata. Premier Horgan is holding a photo of himself with George Takei. Premier Horgan said he was deeply moved by the story of Japanese American George Takei’s incarceration during the Second World War and he knows that Japanese Canadians have similar powerful stories in the dark history of BC.

by Susanne Tabata

The NAJC is currently in talks with the BC provincial government to determine a set of legacy initiatives for the community. On July 9, 2020 the NAJC met to present a list of NAJC BC Redress Legacy Initiatives to the BC Premier’s office Chief of Staff Geoff Meggs and Hon. Minister of Citizens’ Services Anne Kang. Presenting at the meeting were Paul Kariya, Lorene Oikawa, and Susanne Tabata. Premier John Horgan dropped in on the meeting to voice his support for our community.

Additional analysis is being provided by Dr. Audrey Kobayashi for population data; and further fiscal analysis is being done by the Institute of Fiscal Studies in Democracy in Ottawa – under the direction of Kevin Page & Sahir Kahn. 

The NAJC will provide a more detailed update in the fall. Herein is a progress report. 


The five key areas are: health & wellness; combatting racism & acknowledgement; education; heritage assets + living heritage; culture & community building.

The list of ‘asks’ – extracted from a report written by Susanne Tabata & Paul Noble – follow months of research in the community to validate original themes in the November 15, 2019 Recommendations Report. The original report consisted of themes: education; combatting racism; public awareness through memorialization; funding to support community programming, health and wellness; and the importance of a formal acknowledgement of the province’s role. 


This presentation to the BC Government was the culmination of the following events:

• November 15, 2019 – Submission of Redressing Historical Wrongs Community Consultations Report presented along 5 themes: education; combatting racism; public awareness through memorialization; funding to support community programming, health and wellness; and the importance of a formal acknowledgement of the province’s role. 

• January 2020 – several informal meetings with Liberal and NDP MLAs and Ministers in their offices to introduce them to the NAJC’s project.

• January 2020 – Commencement of meetings with BC Japanese Canadian community organizations and individuals to validate asks along original five themes.

• February 7, 2020 – NAJC meeting with TAC Assistant Deputy Minister Asha Baht to review government’s response to report. (Notes received from Government on March 13)

• May 1, 2020 – Delivery to NAJC National Executive Board and BC Redress Strat Team of 37 page report BC Redress Asks Development Political & Communications Road Map written by Paul Noble and Susanne Tabata (forthcoming public facing report will be published in the fall).


Building on the work of the 2019 community consultations and Redressing Historical Wrongs Community Consultations Report, the ‘asks’ reflect input from all BC Japanese Canadian community stakeholders and are inclusive of the feedback from the BC Government to the initial report. These consultations were conducted by Susanne Tabata and Paul Noble.

A challenge in developing the asks was to be able to align the thematic suggestions taken from individual consultations , with the community organization which would be administering any particular ‘ask’. In addition the reasonableness of the ‘ask’ was measured. 

A vast majority of stakeholders want to have access to a community fund for their projects and programming. Some organizations with infrastructure in place were able to articulate specific projects. 

The NAJC is mindful of the relationships that certain organizations have with the BC Government – ie: initiatives led by Laura Saimoto of the Vancouver Japanese Language School – and takes a position of support and non-interference.

The NAJC is also aware that any negotiations for the Powell Street neighbourhood must be directed through the subcommittee of JCs working with the City of Vancouver, as directed by the BC Government in response to the original recommendations report. In addition, the Powell Street Festival Society has taken a clear position to not ‘ask’ for a building in the area. 

The NAJC recognizes that there is a large percentage of the community who lives outside of BC as a result of these historical wrongs. To that end we are supporting the construction of a monument which names all JCs who were removed from the coast; advocating for a exportable seniors’ health package to include culturally competent care; supporting the development of education tools which can be digitally accessed; and promoting the support of the digital hub for archives.

Most importantly, the NAJC recognizes the work done by the Apology Legacy Committee – Tosh Suzuki and Roy Inouye – which led to the 2012 BC Apology as presented by MLA Naomi Yamamoto. Any additional acknowledgement by the BC government would build on this apology. 

Our goal was to address blind spots in the community, and to ensure that the NAJC is very clear about its position with respect to representing the interests of individuals and organizations in our BC communities, and by extension – our community nationwide. Our list of engagement includes the following consultations: 

• Steveston Community – Kelvin Higo

• Dan Nomura

• GVJCCA – Judy Hanazawa & Kathy Shimizu

• NAJC Toronto Chapter – Lynn Kobayashi & Ron Shimizu

• Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society – Tsugio Kurushima

• Vernon Japanese Cultural Society – Rick Ogasawara

• Kamloops Japanese Canadian Association – George Uyeda

• 7 Potatoes/Ucluelet Museum – Eiko Eby

• Nikkei National Museum – Sherri Kajiwara

• Nikkei Cultural Centre – Karah Goshinmon

• Nikkei Seniors – Ruth Coles

• Nikkei Seniors – Cathy Makihara

• Tonari Gumi – David Iwassa

• Powell Street Festival Society – Emiko Morita

• Vancouver Japanese Language School – Laura Saimoto

• New Denver – Mayor Leonard Casley

• Simon Fraser University – Kirsten McAllister 

• University of Victoria – Karen Kobayashi, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences

• Landscapes of Injustice, UVic – Jordan Stanger Ross

• Howard Shimokura 

• Hastings Park – Dan Tokawa


The ‘asks’ as currently presented are minus dollar values although there are cost estimates currently under evaluation. Once final analysis has taken place, figures will be published in September. Health and Wellness requires the most financial resources. 


Making the case for targeted funding for health and social care programs and services for JC older adults in BC

Prepared by: Karen M. Kobayashi, PhD, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor, Department of Sociology, Research Fellow, Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, University of Victoria

March 20, 2020

Unlike other visible minority older adults (65+ years) in British Columbia, Japanese Canadians are largely a post-immigrant group. This means that the majority of Japanese Canadian older adults are Canadian-born. A large, but rapidly decreasing (due to passing), proportion of this group are the nisei (second generation) who experienced the wartime internment at young ages (<15 years). Although English-speaking and very much Canadian in their expressed ethnic identity, the nisei retain a connection to Meiji era norms, values, and beliefs, the underpinnings of their issei (first generation) parents’ culture. As they have aged, the nisei, have started to talk about their life course experiences, piecing together memories of dispossession, forced removal and relocation, and family separation and break-down. The trauma of the internment, and the events leading up to and following it, are slowly emerging after years of silence. This has been prompted and shepherded by sansei (third generation) children and yonsei (fourth generation) grandchildren through community initiatives encouraging intergenerational conversations as a way to discuss mental health issues. In order to address the unique health and social care needs of Japanese Canadian older adults, an increasing number of whom are sansei, targeted funding for programs and services is being requested from the BC government. This request is urgent. For decades, Japanese Canadian community organizations in the Lower Mainland, the Interior, and on the Island, have provided volunteer-driven programs and services for their older adult members to promote aging-in-place, person-centred dementia care, and other government cost-saving initiatives. Community leaders who request funding to support these efforts have been told to work with “other Asian groups” like the Vietnamese and Filipinos to develop and run programs as their “numbers are too small” to warrant targeted resources. Such a response has and continues to reflect the ignorance of funders, including municipal and provincial governments, to the diverse needs, according to socio-demographic and historical experiences, of older adults in these communities. Indeed, the suggestion that Japanese Canadian community-based service providers in BC, due to the size of their client base, band together with other groups to address health and social care issues is insulting. It represents a failure to recognize the salience of the historical oppression experienced by the nisei on their mental well-being, and the lasting effects that this has had on their adult sansei children. An acknowledgement that this has happened is not enough. As a form of redress, we respectfully request that a community health and social care fund for Japanese Canadian seniors be established. Such a fund would help to ensure that those who experienced the internment and their descendants have access to government-supported programs and services as they age that their parents and grandparents never did. 


• Provide sustainable funding for person-based, culturally- competent care for survivors including aging in place, meals on wheels, visitation programs, social programming, transportation, day programs in existing facilities (e.g. Iki Iki – culturally-appropriate, dementia-friendly programming) and direct financial support to Japanese Canadian seniors where needed. 

• Bring together service providers and experts and fund the development of a model to connect survivors in smaller communities to culturally-appropriate health and wellness programming and resources, including provincial mental health funding. 

• Fund existing Japanese Canadian service organizations to implement and scale this model. 

• Provide funding support for additional culturally-competent housing options in communities with high concentrations of Japanese Canadian seniors, including both independent and assisted living options. 


• Establish a working group between the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, Ministry of Health, and Japanese Canadian community to: 

Develop a directory of mental health professionals capable of providing culturally-appropriate care for internment survivors and their families, including work on intergenerational trauma, therapeutic storytelling (not for heritage or archival purposes), and peer support training for members of the community. 

Develop and implement a community-led outreach and referral strategy to ensure uptake amongst survivors and their families. 

• Provide direct and ongoing provincial funding through BC’s Medical Services Plan for mental health services for internment survivors and their families to promote wellness amongst current and future generations of Japanese Canadians. 

• Provide funding for the creation of community gathering programs and community-led workshops for intergenerational dialogue that bring together older and younger Japanese Canadians, and both pre-war and post- war families, to create spaces for sharing stories, culture and healing.



To guarantee the preservation of a core anti-racism function, and ensure continuity from one Human Rights Commissioner to the next, a legislated anti-racism power and legislated permanent Anti-Racism Working Group should be added under section 47 of the BC Human Rights Code. Legislate the establishment, staffing and funding of a permanent Anti- Racism Working Group within the Office of the BC Human Rights Commissioner dedicated to proactive anti-racism and anti-hate research, monitoring and reporting to police, media and public. The Working Group would be led by a OHRC secretariat, and made up of representatives of communities that have faced, or continue to face, racism in BC, including Japanese Canadians. The ARWG would provide a core inoculation function against future systemic racism by initiating investigations into the political and social conditions that have given rise to systemic racism and racist acts in BC’s history, including denial of Indigenous title and rights, the internment and dispossession of Japanese Canadians, the Chinese head tax, Komagata Maru and others. 

Add JC representation to advisory of Resilience BC and the Multicultural Advisory Council.


• Designate a Commemorative Day once redress is negotiated and host an event in the Hall of Honor. To accompany this, work with the Japanese Canadian community and Japanese Canadian artists to establish a monument of permanence at the BC Legislature or in Vancouver with names of the 21,460 (approx.) Japanese Canadian internees. Donate replicas to cities where Japanese Canadians were sent after the war. 

• The research to complete the list of names would be done within the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Victoria. The Landscapes of Injustice project has some data collected in this area, which requires disambiguation and further research. 2-3 graduate students would be employed to complete the work. The NAJC has asked for replicas of this memorial to be produced for the regions outside of BC where the community has a foothold. 

EDUCATION (since the delivery of this ask, the details for K-12 education have been refined and are not reflected here)


• Work with the Japanese Canadian community to update Grade 5 Social Studies curriculum to make the internment, dispossession and dispersal of Japanese Canadians from 1942 – 1949 a standalone component within “human rights and responses to discrimination in Canadian society” unit. (needs enabling legislation) 

• Work with the Japanese Canadian community to update Grade 10 Social Studies curriculum to make the internment, dispossession and dispersal of Japanese Canadians from 1942 – 1949 a standalone component within “discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada and the world” unit. (needs enabling legislation).

• Work with Japanese Canadian community to design provincially-funded professional development training workshops and classroom materials for BC School Districts and teachers to maximize impact of the updated curriculum. Ensure resources are made available online and available to teachers outside BC. Provide provincial support to aid the community with outreach to the BCTF’s, School Boards’ and BC schools’ PD programs to ensure uptake. 

• Fund the development of curriculum packs and teacher resources to be used in all BC public schools and shared with all Canadian provinces and territories and developed through NNMHC and Landscapes of Injustice. 


• to be presented in September’s article.



Fund annual scholarships to Japanese Canadian students at the graduate level. The community will create an awarding committee of Japanese Canadian scholars to establish awards, and emphasis will be placed on work that strengthens the Japanese Canadian academic community, with priority given to research that focuses on the Japanese Canadian experience, including intergenerational studies and intergenerational trauma, adverse childhood experiences and mental health, and social justice and human rights. 


• Fund markers and interpretive information for the sites where the communicated originated eg. Prince Rupert, Maple Ridge, Steveston, Ucluelet, Clayoquot Island etc. 

• Vancouver Japanese Language School Interpretive Centre (with matching funds) 

• Ucluelet Museum, NewDenver Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, Cumberland Museum and Cemetery, Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre supporting endowments for staff. 

• Lillooet – Annual operation budget, qualified staffing as well as ample funds to achieve necessary repairs of the Miyazaki House to prevent long term damage and develop Miyazaki House to serve as a cultural historical educational resource for both local public as well as for tourists 

• Fund restoration of Chemainus Japanese Canadian murals 

• Fund restoration of historic Japanese Canadian gardens at Nitobe Memorial Garden (Victoria), Momiji Garden at Hastings Park (Vancouver) & New Denver, Lillooet, Hope and the Gulf Islands. (Ministry of Forests / can be funded) 


• Fund the creation of a Japanese Canadian Heritage Tourism program including Tashme, Lillooet & New Denver – led by VJLS & NNMCC. 

• Fund the creation of a Japanese Canadian Digital Hub for records, pre-internment and survivor histories, and archives including detailed historical ownership records. 


Infrastructure Grants help build Japanese Canadian cultural facilities, with an emphasis on capital upgrades that create inclusive cultural spaces and multi-use community assets that will be able to regenerate, repurpose, bring in new funds and create new activity in their communities. 

Community Grants Fund community-focused programming and outreach to create space for people to reclaim their culture and connect with one another to build a stronger Japanese Canadian community (e.g. intergenerational programming, teaching cultural practices free Japanese language training for Japanese Canadians). 

Youth Social Entrepreneur Grants for younger Japanese Canadians. Create a committee of community members with relevant expertise to award and evaluate grants and to support grantees. 

Japanese Canadian Future Fund Invest in innovative training, skills and business development for younger Japanese Canadians outside of academia, including technology, design, trades and vocational schools, manufacturing, craft food production, etc. 

Capacity Building Grants to core Japanese Canadian community organizations & NAJC chapters 

Create an annual Homecoming Grant for Japanese Canadians across Canada to visit BC Create outreach and organize annual trips during Powell Street Festival combined with Heritage tours of historical sites in BC 

Arts Grants to support Japanese Canadian theatre, novels, film, storytelling & fine arts, 

Sustaining funds for Powell Street Festival Society to support the programming work of the Powell Street Festival Society in the Historic Powell Street neighbourhood. 

Figures will be published in the September Bulletin.

Any questions can be directed to ace@najc.ca, Susanne Tabata.  

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