National Executive Board

Lorene Oikawa

VANCOUVER
President and Chair, Endowment Funds Committee

In addition to her NAJC responsibilities, Lorene Oikawa works for the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and is the Vice Chair of the Landscapes of Injustice Steering Committee. She also serves as the Vice President of the board of West Coast Environmental Law and is a founding member and director on the board of the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. She is the past President of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association. She was the first and only Asian Canadian executive vice president for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) for three terms from 2005 to 2014.

She speaks and writes about her passions, including human rights and her heritage. She is a co-editor of the book, Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence, which tells the stories of Japanese Canadians who survived uprooting, dispossession, and internment. She has worked on a number of projects including the Hastings Park 1942 Signage Project and Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey.

Lorene, a University of British Columbia (UBC) alumna, is a strong advocate of life-long learning. She contributes to the experience and knowledge exchange by developing and delivering workshops, mentoring, and facilitating for government, community, and unions.

Lorene is a yonsei, a fourth generation Canadian. Her mother’s side of the family migrated from Hiroshima Japan in the 1800s, to Cumberland on Vancouver Island, and in 1906, her father’s side came from Sendai Miyagi-ken, and settled on Oikawa Island in Metro Vancouver.

 


Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi

TORONTO
Vice President and Chair, Human Rights Committee

Lynn is a sansei activist and community leader who is passionate about volunteerism and the enriching relationships that develop while working towards meaningful causes. Her mantra as a community organizer is to help “turn good intentions into results”.

Prior to retiring she developed a broad base of experience in diverse non-profit settings including education, healthcare, community services and social justice as a communication and fundraising professional. Her activism as a volunteer includes, chairing Parent Councils for 12 years at schools where Asian students were in the majority but underrepresented by their immigrant parents, leading a team sponsoring Syrian refugees, founding a gala with husband Pat Deutscher to raise funds for AIDS-orphans in Ethiopia and serving on the Board fundraising committee of Fred Victor, a leader in addressing homelessness in Toronto. She has been on the Toronto NAJC Board since 2018 and is currently the President.

Lynn was born, raised, and educated in Montreal and has lived in Toronto 38 years.  She is connected to much of Canada having lived in Ottawa, Vancouver and spent many summers, in the Yukon, Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Her motivation to join the NEB is to continue the legacy of her activist parents Bill and Addie Kobayashi. Bill Kobayashi was Toronto NAJC President from 1986-1988 and both her grandfathers, were Japanese editors of the New Canadian and The Montreal Bulletin.

She has been a long-distance runner for 40 years, set Canadian and provincial age-group records and placed 3rd in her age-group at the Boston Marathon and 1st at the Chicago marathon. Thanks to a NAJC SEAD grant she represented Canada at the World Masters Track Association Indoor Championships in Korea where she earned a silver medal in the 3000 meters.

She met her husband in 1985 when they were members of a running club. Their son Steven was with Lynn in the House of Commons on September 22, 1988 for the historic Redress Agreement.

 


Secretary

Vacant
Secretary

 


Les Kojima

WINNIPEG
Treasurer

Les was born and raised in Winnipeg, but by the time of the September 22, 1988 redress agreement with the Government of Canada, he was the president of the Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Society. He lived in several countries from 1989 – 2016, including the Solomon Islands, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Switzerland, the UK, the US, India and Sri Lanka. During the latter part of his career, Les worked as a financial management specialist in the South Asia region of the World Bank, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Les returned to Winnipeg after retirement from The Bank in December 2016, and immediately immersed himself in the community. At the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba, he is a regular volunteer, sits on a number of committees, and serves as the Treasurer. He is also an active member of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. His interests include playing squash and learning Japanese.

 


Susanne Tabata

VANCOUVER
Director, Chair of the Arts, Culture and Education Committee

Tabata is a sansei & currently the go-to on the NAJC for the BC Redress Initiative. Under the umbrella of arts, leading a team in development of a national arts conference with University of Victoria – the theme is diaspora slated for October 2021. Susanne co-created the Japanese Canadian Artists Directory – JapaneseCanadianArtists.com with partners Powell Street Festival’s Emi Morita and Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre’s Bryce Kanbara and John Ota. This living directory is housed at the Powell Street Festival and has been a hub for connecting artists inside and outside of the community since it launched two years ago. Outside of the NAJC,  Susanne is a Community Council representative of the Steering Committee of the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective and has been a Community Council member since the project’s inception. She is currently a partner with the National Nikkei Museum’s Writing Wrongs: Japanese Canadian Letters of Protest from the 1940s, in development for the Nikkei National Museum through the Virtual Museum of Canada. In 2012 she produced the centerpiece tribute video Welcome Home: UBC Japanese Canadian Students of 1942 for a special ceremony dedicated to students whose studies were interrupted during World War II.  She has worked with a number of non-profits in brand positioning. Tabata also designed, wrote, produced and directed the 10-part ethnography series for the Japanese Canadian National Museum called Ohanashi: Stories of Our Elders – a detailed examination of the experiences of Japanese Canadians who were interned during World War II – a story familiar to her father whose experiences are shared in the series. Susanne has a background as an instructional designer and has conducted over 300 interviews, which advance the discussion of social justice.  She documented the Survivors Pole Project – an homage to survivors in the downtown east side of Vancouver, and is led by their voices – in particular Haida carver and hereditary chief-in-waiting Bernie “Skundaal” Williams.
Professionally she is a broadcast television producer and writer whose recent credits include producer and writer on the EPIX TV series PUNK, produced by Network Entertainment.

Maryka Omatsu

VANCOUVER-TORONTO
Director

Judge Omatsu was born in Hamilton.  She studied and worked in Toronto and now splits her time between Toronto and Vancouver.

27 years ago, when Maryka Omatsu was appointed a judge, she was the first East Asian woman to hold this position. Before this honor, she practised criminal and administrative law for 16 years in Toronto.

Judge Omatsu was on the National Association of Japanese Canadians’ (NAJC) strategy and negotiation team that won Redress in 1988 for her community.  Her book, Bittersweet Passage documented that struggle and won the Prime Minister’s Award for Publishing and the Laura Jamieson Prize for “best feminist book".  Judge Omatsu is on the B.C. Redress Committee.  Her 2018 video, Swimming Upstream, sets out the Japanese Canadian case for Redress from the British Columbia government and received the MADA (Making a Difference Award) from the Toronto Community Film Festival (2019).

Most recently Judge Omatsu has been named to the:  Canadian Race Relations Foundation:  Special Advisory Council (2018); NAJC's Steering Committee for B.C. Redress (2019) and National Honorary Advisory Committee (2017).  She has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (2019), the Order of Ontario (2015); the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Trail Blazer of the Year (2013); and the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers’ Life Time Achievement Award (2010).


Stéphane Hamade

TORONTO
Director and Chair, Young Leaders Committee

Stéphane Hamade is a biracial Japanese French Canadian. He is a graduate of Mathematics of the University of Waterloo where he discovered his interest in social justice while he was an executive at the student union. For the last three years, he has been working in politics for racialized elected officials in Scarborough, Ontario.

Stéphane began his involvement in the Japanese Canadian community in 2017 after a trip to Japan to visit his grandfather’s home town and helping the NAJC with Media and event logistics in their 2017 Annual General Meeting. In 2018, he got involved with the Young Japanese Canadians of Toronto and in 2019 joined the Japanese Young Leader Committee. During the Federal election, he also ran a successful social media campaign to remove a picture of internment from a Peoples Party of Canada ad.

Since graduating from university he has been involved with a few organizations the Canadian Intern Association, the Ontario Arts Council, OPSEU, the Association des Communauté Francophone de l’Ontario-Toronto and worked on electoral campaigns at 3 levels of government and a successful federal leadership campaign.



Kevin Okabe

Executive Director

Kevin has served as the part-time Executive Director for the NAJC since May 2018.

Kevin has been actively involved with the Japanese Canadian community at both the local and national levels for over thirty years.  Locally, he helped organize Japanese Canadian youth groups and served on the boards of community organizations in Winnipeg and Calgary. He chaired the 2011 Tsunami Relief campaign in Calgary, and is the former President of the Calgary Japanese Community Association.  Nationally, he served for five terms as Director, Secretary and Treasurer for the organization.  He worked on the NAJC’s Youth, Strategic Planning, Finance and Heritage Committees and was instrumental in helping shape the organization’s investment strategy.

Kevin comes to the NAJC after retiring from the private sector, where he served as Chief Operating Officer for MSH International (Canada), a provider of expatriate insurance solutions, for the past ten years.  He also spent over fifteen years working in public practice with Grant Thornton and PricewaterhouseCoopers .  He holds certifications as a Chartered Professional Accountant and in Information Technology audit and governance, and was recognized as one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40 in 2007.  Together with his wife Naoko Maebashi, they own and operate two retail stores and a deli in Banff and Kananaskis, Alberta.

As Executive Director, Kevin’s priorities for the NAJC include:

  • Researching and suggesting strategic alternatives for consideration by the organization;
  • Supporting the work of the NAJC’s Executive Board and committees, including the organization of the Annual General meeting;
  • Stabilizing and streamlining the back office and accounting administration for the organization; and
  • Enhancing communication within the organization and strengthening partnerships to achieve common goals.

 


Maria Karina Uehara

Maria Karina UeharaNational Administrator

Karina Uehara has a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in School Administration and Management. She worked in schools for 18 years as a high school teacher, administrator’s assistant and coordinator in Argentina. Karina arrived to Canada in 2004 and obtained the Permanent Teacher Certification from the province. She taught Math in the Distance Learning Unit of Manitoba Education to high school students. She also got the Certificate in Adult Education and in Emerging Technologies from the University of Manitoba. She worked as a manager in a government-funded program that provided settlement services to newcomers for 11 years. She was a member of the JCAM board, volunteers at the center, and teaches Spanish at the Université de Saint-Boniface. Karina believes that education can enable people to reach their full potential so they can make meaningful contributions to society.

 


NAJC boards

2020-2022
Lorene Oikawa, President
Lynn Deutscher Kobayashi, Vice President
Vacant, Secretary
Les Kojima, Treasurer
Susanne Tabata, Director
Maryka Omatsu, Director
Stéphane Hamade, Director
Kevin Okabe, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator

2019-2020
Lorene Oikawa, President
Keiko Miki, Vice President
Les Kojima, Treasurer
Eiko Eby, Secretary
Kiyoshi Dembo, Director
Alex Miki, Director
Susanne Tabata, Director
Kevin Okabe, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator


2018-2019
Lorene Oikawa, President
Keiko Miki, Vice President
Les Kojima, Treasurer
Eiko Eby, Secretary
Kiyoshi Dembo, Director
Alex Miki, Director
Susanne Tabata, Director
Bryan Tomlinson, Director
David Mitsui, Past President
Kevin Okabe, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator


2017
David Mitsui, President
Lorene Oikawa, Vice President
Noreen Kuroyama, Treasurer
Michiko Yano Shutttleworth, Secretary
Bev Ohashi, Past President
Susanne Tabata, Director
Eiko Eby, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Director
Bryan Tomlinson, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator


2016
David Mitsui, President
Lorene Oikawa, Vice President
Michiko Yano-Shuttleworth, Secretary
Noreen Kuroyama, Treasurer
Eiko Eby, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Director
Susanne Tabata, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Jim Suzuki, National Administrator, Recorder


2015
Bev Ohashi, Chair
Tosh Kitagawa, Vice President
Susan Matsumoto, Secretary
Kevin Okabe, Treasurer
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin, Director
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Jim Suzuki, National Administrator, Recorder


2014
Ken Noma, President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Kevin Okabe, Treasurer
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin, Director
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Director


2013
Ken Noma, President
Lilian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
Kevin Okabe, Treasurer
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin, Director
Glenna Carlson, National Administrator


2012
Ken Noma, President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
Treasurer: Takashi Ohki
Kevin Okabe, Director
Valerie Hoshizaki, Director
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Terumi Kuwada, Past President
Tomoko Keheler-Yokobori, National Administrator


2011
Ken Noma, President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Takashi Ohki, Treasurer
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
David Iwaasa, Director
Steven Seller, Director
Pamela Sugiman, Director
Terumi Kuwada, Past President


2010
Terumi Kuwada, President & Chair
Masa Kagami, Vice President
Takashi Ohki , Treasurer
Angela Foreman, Secretary
Steven Seller, Director
Alan Tanaka, Director
Pamela Sugiman, Director
Grace Eiko Thomson, Past President


2009
Terumi Kuwada, President & Chair
Masa Kagami, Vice President
Takashi Ohki, Treasurer
Angela Foreman, Secretary
Grace Eiko Thomson, Past President
Steven Seller, Director
Alan Tanaka, Director
Pamela Sugiman, Director


2008
Grace Eiko Thomson, President
Charlotte Chiba,Vice-President and Chair
Angela Seller Boyko, Treasurer
Terumi Kuwada Director, CDC Chair
Joanne Planidin ,Director
Masa Kagami, Director
Pamela Sugiman, Director
Henry Kojima, Past President


2007
Grace Eiko Thomson, President & Chair
Charlotte Chiba, Vice President
Angela Seller Boyko, Treasurer
Masa Kagami, Director
Terumi Kuwada, Director
Henry Kojima, Past President
Lucy Yamashita, Staff, recorder


2006
Henry Kojima, President
Charlotte Chiba. Vice President
Angela Boyko, Treasurer
Grace Eiko Thomson, Secretary
Judy Hanazawa, Director
Joanne Planidin, Director
Yumi Schoenhofer, Director
George Uyeda, Director
Keiko Miki, Past President


2005
Henry Kojima, President
George Uyeda, Vice-President
Angela Boyko, Treasurer
Grace Eiko Thomson, Secretary
Judy Hanazawa, Director
Joanne Planidin, Director
Yumi Schoenhofer, Director
Keiko Miki, Past President