November message

Ken NomaSeptember was an extremely busy month, so much so that it prevented me from submitting a report for the October issue of The Bulletin. Here is a summary of some of my activities:

NAJC AGM (September 20-21)
31 delegates and alternates from 13 of 14 member organizations attended the weekend annual general meeting held in Toronto. In addition, we hosted the second concurrent Young Leaders conference. Thanks to the Kobayashi clan for their help in organizing the excellent Friday evening hospitality room. Special thanks go to all those who took time away from their busy schedule to attend and their desire to continue to make the NAJC a viable organization. The 2014 AGM will be hosted in the city of Vancouver. 

Symposium on Japanese Canadians Redress (September 20)
The Symposium was a joint conference organized by the Sociology Department of Ryerson University; OISE Equity Department of the University of Toronto; NAJC National and Greater Toronto Chapter of the NAJC. The symposium dealt with the topics: How Japanese Canadian redress was achieved and the lessons for today; Political activism today; Human and Civil rights in Canada and what can be done to close the current gap. Thanks to Ren Ito, Dr. Pam Sugiman and Dr. Roland Coloma of the planning committee and to the panelists: Art Miki, Judge Maryka Omatsu, Jen Matsunaga, Gerry Weiner, Dr. Karen Mock, Andrew Cardozo and Dr. Winnie Ng. Appreciation to the Department of Sociology, NAJC Endowment Fund and the Toronto NAJC for their funding support of this symposium.

25th Redress anniversary banquet (September 21)
Those who have tried to organize such large-scale banquets can appreciate the amount of time and energy it takes to run a successful gathering such as this – more so since it was an important anniversary. Over 230 people attended the banquet and the Toronto Chapter made a conscious decision to keep the cost of the banquet tickets affordable for seniors in order make this a true people’s party. I know that they lost a substantial amount of money on this event. One participant called the evening ‘magical’ and confirms the wisdom of the chapter’s generosity. Very special thanks go out to the volunteer banquet committee members: David Fujino, Bill and Addie Kobayashi, Toke Suyama, Toshi and Nobu Oikawa, Bob Tanaka, Yosh Inouye and Terez Hyodo. Special thanks also to individuals and corporations that donated wonderful items for the successful silent auction.

City of Vancouver Apology (September 25)
On September 25, 2010, the City of Vancouver joined the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination thereby committing to taking action. In this spirit of commitment, on September 25th inside the Council chambers, I was pleased to witness the City acknowledge and apologize for its: ‘Complicity, its inaction, and for failing to protect its Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry…with this apology to its Japanese Canadian citizens, the City of Vancouver acknowledges the injustices of the past and pledges to ensure such injustices will not happen again to any of its citizens; reaffirming the principles of human rights, justice and equality now and in the future.”

I thank the leadership of Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councillor Kelly Jang for moving and seconding this motion and in reaching out to engage the Japanese Canadian community through consultation and in the fashioning of the final motion.

A wonderful celebratory dinner was held later that evening inside the historic Japanese Language School in Nihon machi. Thank you to the language school and the volunteers who organized the celebration.

University of Toronto Forgiveness Panel Discussion (October 2)
I was pleased to participate as a speaker on the panel The Practice of Forgiveness: Questions and Challenges in Pursuit of Reconciliation and Justice sponsored by the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office of the University of Toronto. Moderated by First Nations Cat Criger, traditional elder for the University of Toronto, the panel consisted of me; First Nations Donald Sanderson (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto); Vera Schiff (Holocaust Survivor) and Samantha Lawler (Forgiveness Project Story Contributor). In a very emotional discussion, we explored whether forgiveness has played or can play a role in the process to seek reconciliation and justice for individuals and communities.

Quebec’s proposed Charter of Common Values:
The NAJC press release noted support for the Quebec Government’s goal to defend equity between men and women and to encourage equity and harmonious relations among all peoples but rejected the notion that the proposed ‘Charter of Quebec Values’ is the means to accomplish these goals. We will continue to monitor this situation.

Shale Gas Fracking Clash in Bexton, New Brunswick:
The NAJC Human Rights Committee is monitoring the situation between the RCMP and the Mi’kmaq First Nations over the issue of shale gas fracking taking place on their traditional territory. We support national chief Shaun Atleo’s call for peaceful protests and to make paramount the safety and security of all people.

NAJC National Award:
Congratulations to the Nikkei Dynamic Duo of Mary and Tosh Kitagawa who, at the AGM, received the highest award given by our organization in recognition of their long service to the cause of human rights and justice. They are valuable ambassadors of the Nikkei community and truly our national treasure. In a touching acceptance speech, Mary paid tribute to her late mother for being her inspiration and for encouraging her to fight injustice and intolerance.


2014 Nikkei Heritage Tours: 

The NAJC is pleased to announce that the Japan tour will begin on September 29 to October 8th to Kanazawa, Takayama and Tokyo. The Hawai’i tour will take us to the towns of Kailua-Kona and Hilo on the Big Island and to Waikiki on the island of Oahu. The tour dates will be from August 8 to 17th. Further announcements on the cost and itinerary will be advertised in The Bulletin. Please join us and help raise funds for your local NAJC member organizations when you register.

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