NAJC President’s Message – September 2021

My Japanese maple trees are starting to change from their summer green to golden orange, a sign of autumn approaching.

September usually brings cooler weather and the change in seasons is not always appreciated. For those who have been experiencing the worst of the extreme weather, heatwaves and wildfires, fall’s anticipated cooler temperatures and rains will be a welcome relief especially in British Columbia.

BC has seen a record number of wildfires this year. In June, the entire village of Lytton was destroyed. Halfway through the wildfire season in July there were about 1,230 fires, double the average for a 10-year period. By August, the total rose to 1,536 wildfires, 860,801 hectares of area was burned, nearly 4,000 properties had been evacuated, 14,285 properties on alert, 3,573 firefighters are battling the blazes with the help of 541 out-of-province firefighters.

When you hear the numbers, it seems unreal until you make the connections with family and friends who live in affected areas. It became very real for me when I found out that a colleague who moved from Surrey to Vernon was evacuated and her new house was destroyed in a fire.

Every year extreme weather is getting worse because of climate change. Urban areas are also affected by heatwaves and smoky air from the wildfires. Some member organizations have a volunteer phone system to check in on seniors. I think that is an excellent idea. Not all seniors have family that can check on their wellbeing and to see that they are properly hydrating and eating. Let’s take care of each other. We need more caring and kindness in the world.

Last month, we seemed to be returning to pre-COVID-19 normalcy. People were travelling, families were starting to meet up, and we were having some small outdoor gatherings. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, then confirmed that we are in a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delta variant (which may be as contagious as chickenpox) is causing a surge in the number of infections. Although almost all of the infected are those who are not vaccinated, we are hearing about some breakthrough infections where vaccinated people have been infected.

Being vaccinated is still better protection than not being vaccinated and helps reduce the severity of the infection. We need more people to get vaccinated to stop the spread and further mutations of the virus which puts us all at risk. We also need to reduce the impact on our health-care system, because health professionals and beds that are tied up with COVID-19 patients means less space and time for those with other medical issues. Please return to wearing masks, maintain distancing, keep washing your hands, and listen to health officials.

The NAJC Annual General Meeting will be an online event which will take place on September 17, 2021. This will be our second AGM that is online. We will be conducting the business of the organization including sharing information about our initiatives such as BC Redress and the Anglican Healing Fund. We will be announcing the recipient of the NAJC Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Award. The AGM also provides an opportunity for member organizations to talk about what’s happening in their communities and their group’s priorities. Delegates will be able to participate and stay safe by remaining in their communities.

Next year, we will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of the NAJC and the 80th anniversary of internment. We will be looking to share more stories of our communities through our different communication channels including online sessions.

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 http://najc.ca/member-organizations/

NAJC online programming is also on our website http://najc.ca/online-programs/ where you can find new sessions and archived recordings. Recordings are also available on the National Association Japanese Canadians YouTube channel. https://bit.ly/3bTpbA1

Thank you to Sarah Matsushita, Sue Doi, and Yukari Peerless, members of the Endowment Fund Committee. The committee had a difficult task to review the applications from so many talented individuals and groups from across Canada. Communications have gone out to the applicants, and we will be posting the list of who received funding on the NAJC website.

This month we will be commemorating three dates. September 6 is Labour Day and the value of workers, especially Indigenous, Black, Asian and people of colour, has not always been recognized in historical accounts. Take this opportunity to share the stories of JC workers. September 22 is the anniversary of the signing of the historic Redress agreement in 1988. September 30 is the new federal statutory holiday, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. NAJC urges people to learn about Indigenous history including the legacy of residential schools and the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

 

The province of British Columbia is recognizing September 30. BC’s public sector employers will be honouring this day so some public services may be operating at reduced levels, most schools, post-secondary institutions, some health sector workplaces and Crown corporations will be closed. Check if your province/territory is recognizing this day and if not, encourage them to accept this call to action.

 

The NAJC National Executive Board wishes you a safe and successful transition to fall.

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