NAJC President’s Message – March 2022

by Lorene Oikawa

I received a copy of a photo “Commemoration of the Year 1940, Delta, East-Richmond, Surrey Chapter of the Japanese Canadian Citizens League – JCCL.” The photo shows about fifty women and men in rows, and at the very far left, a man who looks like family. I think it is my uncle Buck Suzuki. Thanks to Kelvin Higo for the photo.

It prompted me to dig out my well-used copy of The Enemy That Never Was by Ken Adachi and read more on the JCCL.

The JCCL was organized in 1936, an effort to organize all the nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians) in British Columbia. There were seven chapters. One of their first priorities was to have a brief prepared to ask for a revision of the discriminatory legislation so that Japanese Canadians would have the right to vote in federal elections. A four-member delegation appeared before the Special Committee on Elections and Franchise Acts of the House of Commons in Ottawa. The four delegates were Hideko Hyodo, a teacher, Minoru Kobayashi, an insurance agent, Edward Banno, a dentist, and S.I. Hayakawa, a university lecturer. They faced opposition, especially from the BC MPs A.W. Neill and Thomas Reid. Federal franchise was denied. The JCCL would expand to ten chapters, and last met at its annual conference in 1941. The forced uprooting of Japanese Canadians would start the next year in 1942.

It wasn’t until September 1947 when the National Japanese Canadian Citizens Association was formed to represent nisei across Canada. The National JCCA changed its name to the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) in 1980.

2022 is the 75th anniversary of the NAJC and the 80th anniversary of the start of Internment. We will continue to highlight key moments on our social media and website najc.ca For example, in March:

March 4, 1942 Under Order-In-Council P.C. 1665 Japanese Canadians are ordered to turn over property and belongings to the Custodian of Enemy Alien Property as a “protective measure only.” 

We now know that property and belongings were not kept in care and was sold without the owners’ permission.

March 16, 1942 First arrivals at Vancouver’s Hastings Park Manning Pool. All Japanese Canadian mail is censored from this date. 

Over 8,000 Japanese Canadians, most from outside of Vancouver were shipped to Hastings Park (the official name was Hasting Park Manning Pool) and held there before being transported to camps. The rest of the 22,000 Japanese Canadians were sent directly to camps. For example, my mother’s side of the family were sent from Cumberland on Vancouver Island to Hastings Park. My father’s side in the Lower Mainland were sent directly to the camp in Kaslo.

Do you have a family connection to the JCCL or NAJC? Share a paragraph or two about your family’s participation in NAJC events or activities. We also want to share the memories and stories of your family in 1942 and before the uprooting. Send your photo and stories to national@najc.ca 

Connect with the NAJC member organization in your area to find out about local events and activities. 

Member Organizations

The NAJC supports the development of educational, cultural activities, materials sharing Japanese Canadian stories, and programs that contribute to the understanding and wellbeing of the Japanese Canadian community and the promotion of human rights. We administer the NAJC Endowment Fund. Applications for funding are accepted until 11:59 p.m. Pacific on March 31. A one-hour information session for potential applicants was held on Thursday, March 3. A recording was made for those who were unable to attend and is posted at http://najc.ca/funds-and-awards/najc-endowment-fund

Part of our culture and traditions are tied to our food and especially the food prepared by our moms, grandmothers and family. I was fortunate to have experienced my grandmother’s cooking on my mom’s side, but I didn’t have that on my father’s side. My dad died when I was little and his mother died before I was born. My father’s side were fishers and boat builders on Oikawa Island and had close ties to Steveston. I’m very excited to learn from the newest cookbook, From the Sea and Shore, Steveston’s Favourite Japanese Canadian Recipes. Kelvin Higo who organized the collection of recipes will be joining us on Saturday March 26 at 11am Pacific to 12:30pm Zoom. Pre-registration is required. 

Register here: https://bit.ly/StevestonRecipes 

Other events and updates are listed on our website. 

September 16-18, 2022 – NAJC GEI: Art Symposium

October 28-30, 2022 – 75th Anniversary NAJC Human Rights Symposium & Dinner

Sign up or update your info for NAJC e-news and receive info about events and news http://najc.ca/subscribe

The National Executive Board wishes you warmer and brighter days. We’ll be marking March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and ask you to stand with us to #FightRacism.  

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