NAJC President’s Message – December 2021

by Lorene Oikawa

Lights and decorations for Christmas and Chanukah are going up. It’s starting to look more festive. Everyone is looking for some light and hope. We have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and we must continue to take precautions with news of the latest Omicron variant. In BC, we are still dealing with the aftermath of flooding, and this is coming after a record heat wave and wildfires. Extreme weather is getting worse and more frequent, a nasty reminder that we need to move quickly on climate change and significantly reduce GHG emissions.

We need to be kind with each other as we face these challenges and help strengthen our community. What better way then to take some time with family and friends and learn more about traditions or make new ones during the holidays. One of my family’s traditions is to eat noodles in broth before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Eating the long noodles is said to ensure you have a long life. Soba noodles represent strength and resilience because they are made from buckwheat, a hardy plant. It is also said that because the noodles are easily cut, it’s also a way of letting go of the hardship of the year. This tradition is perhaps even more meaningful this year.

Next year will bring more hope and more NAJC events.

The NAJC Arts Culture Education Committee is doing tremendous work on GEI, an art symposium of Japanese Canadian artists and Japanese artists living in Canada which will take place in Greater Victoria September 16-18, 2022. The call for submissions of interest is open until December 19, 2021. For more information and to submit please go to https://bit.ly/najcGEI

Latest news! The NAJC Endowment Fund is returning to its original schedule with applications due on March 31, 2022 @ 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The new application forms will be posted soon on the NAJC website. The NAJC Endowment Fund promotes Japanese Canadian culture, and grants are available to organization, groups, and individuals. Funding is available under two programs, Cultural Development – CD (max. $5,000) and Sports, Education, and Arts Development – SEAD (max $2,500). Past CD projects include theatre performances, graphic novels, commemoration pieces for Japanese Canadian internment. Previous SEAD grantees include athletes at the national and international level, accomplished writers, performers, and actors.

Some of NAJC’s upcoming messages and activities are connected to the following United Nations commemorative dates in December. These are good reminders of opportunities to speak up, but not the only time we should use our voice.

By the time you read this, it may be past December 10, but it is worth remembering Human Rights Day. See the NAJC Statement posted at https://bit.ly/3ool1H1 . We also completed 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which started from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10. We renewed our commitment to end gender-based violence.

December 18 – International Migrants Day. We recognize migration as a way for individuals to overcome adversity and seek a better life for themselves and their families. All descendants of settlers should see the parallels with their ancestors. We want to see better economic and social conditions here and in the countries of origin.

December 20 – International Human Solidarity Day. This is a day to come together to honour our diversity and our unity on common goals such as poverty eradication and the elimination of racism. We urge the important conversations, global cooperation, and collective action to tackle world poverty and inequities.

NAJC is sharing a call out by the Museum of Surrey for stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey, British Columbia before 1942. They want to connect with JCs in December and by January 1, 2022. As a life-long resident of Surrey, I would encourage you to share the stories of your families. For too long, Japanese Canadians have been made invisible by the omission of our stories and many buildings and representations of our presence in cities and towns across Canada have disappeared. We need to hear the stories of daily lives, what work did they do, how did the family spend time at home, what took place in the schools and after school, and where did they go to get supplies or for visits. Also, if you have any artifacts to share for this exhibit it would add so much to the stories. I know asking for artifacts is hard since so much was taken from Japanese Canadians and families like my own only had a few suitcases. The sharing of stories is so important. Thank you for the consideration. More information at https://bit.ly/MSryJC

In 2022, NAJC is also looking to share stories of JC families, reflections on internment, and stories about NAJC volunteers and member organizations. Next year, we will be marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the NAJC and the 80th anniversary of Internment. Please share your stories and ideas for stories. Put “Stories for NAJC” in the subject line and email national@najc.ca

Make sure we have your current email so that you receive updates and news by signing up at http://najc.ca/subscribe/ for NAJC e-news. Also, please continue to support your local NAJC member organizations and their events. Memberships would make a great gift. Check out the list of member organizations on the NAJC website http://najc.ca/member-organizations/ Support JC publications like The Bulletin (subscribers save 20% on a gift membership) and Nikkei Voice. Consider subscriptions for seniors to stay in touch and students to learn about JC history and community.

The NAJC National Executive Board wishes you and your loved ones a peaceful, safe, warm holiday season and all the best for a happy, healthy, prosperous 2022 – Year of the Tiger!

 

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