NAJC President’s Message – January 2022

by Lorene Oikawa

Happy New Year from the National Executive Board of the National Association of Japanese Canadians! Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. 

Happy Year of the Tiger! Japanese follow the Gregorian, solar calendar so the 12 animal (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, boar) zodiac starts on January 1. The year of the tiger has started with some extreme cold weather in the west with the Arctic chill spreading across Canada. Southern Ontario has had milder temperatures but that is expected to change this month. Please check in on seniors and those who have mobility challenges. 

We know Oshogatsu was different again this year, because we could not gather with all our loved ones. We hope you did enjoy some traditional Japanese food as part of your holiday celebrations. Osechi ryori (often referred to as osechi) is the traditional food, typically served in stacked lacquer boxes (jubako) which is served and eaten on New Year’s Day (Oshogatsu). The food has special symbolic meaning. For example, ebi – prawns whose bent back represents old age and a long life. We posted an example of a Japanese Canadian osechi on our Instagram page:

We haven’t seen the last of the COVID-19 pandemic so we will need to continue with our safety protocols and get our booster shots as soon as possible. We need to maintain the gaman spirit of our ancestors which includes patience and perseverance. When I think of everything that our families survived, I think of the Japanese proverb, nana korobi ya oki, you fall seven times, you get up eight times. I think this really speaks to the resilience of Japanese Canadians. With patience, perseverance, and kindness, our Japanese Canadian community will survive and thrive. 

Besides our New Year’s tradition of food, many of us also spent some time cleaning up in preparation for New Year’s Day. The ritual provided an opportunity to reflect on the past. I found myself remembering my parents, grandparents, and the rest of the survivors of internment. 2022 marks the 80th anniversary of internment and the 75th anniversary of the NAJC. We will be taking a deeper look at the stories of our Japanese Canadian community during internment and the development of the NAJC. 

Throughout this year we will share some key moments from 80 years ago. For example, on January 16, 1942, Order-in-Council P.C. 365 created a 100-mile “protected area” on the coast of British Columbia from which male enemy aliens are excluded. 

If you have any stories to share about your family memories during internment or participation in NAJC events or activities please contact Also, if you’re not already connected to the member organization in your area, please contact them to see what events and initiatives they are working on. They are looking for participants and volunteers to meet the needs of their communities. Their contact information is on the NAJC website

Look for updates on our continuing work with BC Redress, Anglican Healing Fund, and two major events this year, GEI: Art Symposium September 16-18 organized by the ACE Committee and Human Rights Symposium Oct 28-30 organized by the Human Rights Committee.

We’re organizing more online events for this year. Updates and news are posted on our website and you can find out about events and new information when you sign up for e-news. Please ensure we have your current email address. Subscribe: 

We also support the development of educational, social, cultural activities and programs that contribute to the understanding and wellbeing of the Japanese Canadian community and the promotion of human rights. One way we provide support is through the administration of the NAJC Endowment Fund. Applications for funding is accepted by March 31 each year. Other financial support is to our member organizations through the NAJC Community Development Fund to young Japanese Canadians through the Young Leaders Fund. Information is available on the NAJC website. 

The NAJC National Executive Board wishes you a safe, healthy, prosperous 2022!

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