By Bev Ohashi, President.
Six degrees of separation is a theory that became well known in 1993 by a film called “Six Degrees of Separation” with a cast that included Stockard Channing, Will Smith, and Donald Sutherland. Although the concept is about people knowing other people takes 6 or fewer steps before making a connection, the individuals who are part of the Japanese Canadian community is usually less than 6 degrees.
Among the Issei and Nisei generations, their networks were so close that everyone knew each other’s business. They have a very strong sense of belonging to the Japanese Canadian Community, its traditions and support. Social functions brought them together as well as interest clubs like bowling, dancing, or playing bridge. They look forward to these events to stay connected within their community.
As the generations have grown, the art of networking within the Japanese Canadian Community is quickly disappearing and losing the understanding and appreciation of our history. The question of identity is constantly present in each generation as individuals ask, “Who Am I?” Many Japanese Canadians of third generation and greater are part of the mainstream society where networking is recognized as an important skill to develop to achieve success. It is a social skill learned while going to school and developed further when individuals become part of the economic world. The internet highway using emails, websites, facebook, webinars, blogs and twitter have also created a constant connection with individuals and large groups. However, Japanese Canadians have forgotten to stay connected to our own community. The NAJC is the only national organization in Canada that can support ways for Japanese Canadians to establish networks among Japanese Canadians. But, it still remains for the individual to choose to believe and take action to connect with the Japanese Canadian communities.
One of NAJC’s key priorities is improving our communication among community organizations and ourselves. The NAJC provides these opportunities by our annual AGM to be held in Victoria in September but also planning to offer conferences organized by the Human Rights Committee and the National JC Young Leaders Committee. The NAJC website is expanding to offer chat rooms for its members and other ways to connect across Canada. Test out the theory of six degrees of separation. You may discover that it may still be less than six degrees.