NAJC President’s Message – October 2021

by Lorene Oikawa

At the end of last month, we welcomed the start of the Autumnal Equinox and fall’s first chill. Yes, even on the southwest coast, I started to pull out some of my sweaters and turned on the heat in the house.

As we enjoy the seasonal change, we are also enjoying the limited return of some entertainment such as festivals and tv and film programming. On BC’s public broadcaster, Knowledge Network, a new series is starting this month, British Columbia: An Untold History.

Be prepared for some fierce storytelling. The four-part series shares stories and a perspective that goes beyond the colonial history that has been the usual for so long. I saw a preview of Episode 1 which tells powerful stories of Indigenous peoples & Episode 3 which includes Japanese Canadian, Chinese Canadian and Indo Canadian stories. I am pleased to be able to contribute to this wonderful series and honoured to be in the company of some outstanding storytellers such as Mas Fukawa. Episode 1 Change + Resistance will be shown on October 12; Episode 2 Labour + Persistence on October 19; Episode 3 Migration + Resilience on October 26; and Nature + Co-Existence on November 2. The episodes are available at https://www.knowledge.ca/program/british-columbia-untold-history

It was significant to see the preview on the 20th anniversary of 9-1-1. I spoke to the documentary director Kevin Eastwood and told him that Japanese Americans & Japanese Canadians had a sickening déjà vu when Muslims were unjustly targeted after 9-1-1. It brought back memories of the forcible uprooting, dispossession, and internment when people of Japanese ancestry were unjustly labelled enemy aliens. More people need to know the stories of Indigenous peoples and racialized settlers, part of our Canadian history, so that we can stop the injustice from repeating.
In 2022, we will be marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the NAJC and the 80th anniversary of the internment. We will be looking to share stories throughout the year and would especially like to hear from you, and our members and our member organizations. Please let us know about your stories and the development of the NAJC. Email national@najc.ca

We need your help because sadly we know there are many who are no longer with us. We were greatly shocked at the sudden passing of Jean Shizuko Kamimura. Jean worked tirelessly to helping educate others about the Japanese Canadian experience. She was one of the original members of the Vancouver Japanese Redress Committee. She was generous with her time and knowledge. I will miss our talks and looking at her albums with photos and news clippings. We shared a connection to the Vancouver Asahi baseball team. Her father and my grandfather both received BC Sports Hall of Fame medals. Our deepest condolences to her husband Walt and her family.

This month, we are highlighting a number of dates including:

October 16 | World Food Day We all have a role to play in the transformation of agri-food systems for sustainability, accessibility, and fairness.

October 17 | International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Statistics Canada reported that 3.7 million Canadians were living below the poverty line in 2019.

October 29 In 2000, the Britannia Heritage Shipyards in Steveston was declared a National Historic Site. Linda Ohama’s play, From the Inland Sea, took place at the Murakami Boathouse at the Britannia Heritage Shipyards in 2019.

October 31 is the deadline for Organization, Small Group, and Underserved (Individual) applications for the Japanese Canadian Survivors Health & Wellness Fund which honours seniors who lived through the traumatic uprooting, dispossession, internment and exile of 22,000 Japanese Canadians between 1942 and 1949 and acknowledges the role of the Province of BC in the historical injustice.

If you’re interested in contributing to the community and want to learn more about the NAJC, consider volunteering. We are looking for volunteers for our Endowment Fund Committee (Application Deadline: November 30, 2021), Community Development Grant Committee, and Membership Committee. For more information, please contact national@najc.ca

Make sure you are getting updates and news by signing up at http://najc.ca/subscribe/ for NAJC e-news. Also, please continue to connect with NAJC member organizations and support local events. The list of member organizations is on the NAJC website najc.ca/member-organizations
Given the increasing numbers of infections of the COVID variant and we are going into flu season, please follow the direction of your provincial and territorial health officers. Follow safety protocols such as masking, distancing, sanitizing, washing your hands, and getting vaccinated.

Every individual’s action can help reduce the risk of infection and the spread of disease, causing harm and deaths.

The NAJC National Executive Board wishes you a happy, safe Thanksgiving.

Scroll to top