A MESSAGE TO OUR MEMBERS
As you have no doubt seen and heard in the local media, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre sustained considerable damage due to a structure fire that occurred shortly after 1:00 PM on Monday, February 4, 2008. Many of you personally witnessed in shock and disbelief as the inferno sent plumes of smoke high into the air.
The building was occupied by members of River Valley Quilters at the time of the blaze. The Kamloops Fire Department and our Coordinator, George Uyeda ensured that the building was evacuated quickly. Thankfully, no one was injured.
The fire investigator determined that the blaze began outside the building, likely by a homeless person or persons who had set up a makeshift shelter at the side of the building. It appears the fire was touched off by an electric heater powered by an extension cord from the adjacent property. Flammable materials ignited, which set the wooden fence ablaze. The flames traveled up the side of the structure to the soffit and into the cavity between the ceiling and the roof.
The roof and trusses were destroyed. There was extensive damage to the main floor, due to water, smoke and the partial collapse of the roof. The main floor was heavily damaged. The basement appears to have escaped relatively unscathed with the exception of smoke and water damage in specific areas. We are working closely with the adjuster to assess the damage to the structure and its contents. All furnishings, fixtures and equipment are being removed for damage assessment and temporary storage. Miraculously, it appears that the collection of historically significant material stored in the basement escaped serious damage. The firefighters did an exceptional job protecting the artifacts and other archival items contained in the basement. Thankfully, the new taiko drums that were placed in the basement only four days prior to the fire escaped serious damage.
The KJCA and NAJC Boards met the day following the fire to develop a business resumption plan. The Kamloops Buddhist Church has graciously offered space in their facility. Some programs will be relocated there while others will have to relocate to other sites. Unfortunately, some events may have to be postponed or cancelled. We will continue to communicate with our members has things progress. The Cultural Centre telephone number continues to be in service. We encourage you to stay in touch by calling 376-9629 or contacting any of the Board members. In addition, a web site will be developed in the coming months to enable us to post information for our members and the community at large.
The Board of Directors of the Kamloops Japanese Canadian Association and the Kamloops and area chapter of National Association of Japanese Canadians are resolute in their desire to overcome this tragedy and restore what was lost.
Japanese Canadians are no strangers to adversity. Past struggles have forged our members’ strength of will and united them in a common purpose. We are confident that with the support of our members, the Centre will rise from the ashes to resume its position of prominence in the community.
Les Tabata, President
Debbie Cairns, President
Kamloops and area chapter of the NAJC