October 2012

Regina Japanese Canadian Club

I am pleased to announce that in September we welcomed a new Associate Member to the NAJC family—the Regina Japanese Canadian Club. We now have Nikkei representation that stretches across every province from the city of Victoria in the west and Ottawa to the east. It is my hope that we can extend our membership further to include Montreal. Over half of the NAJC member organizations are cultural organizations—this fact flies in the face of those who argue that by joining the NAJC, they will jeopardize their charitable status. Many years ago, Art Miki received clarification from Corporations Canada that debunked this argument but it is still being used as a convenient excuse today. A large national organization gives it a powerful leverage when dealing with governments. Interestingly, those Nikkei organizations reluctant to join with us were not shy about applying for and receiving substantial funding from the Redress Foundation or from submitting applications to the Endowment Fund today. Having your manju and eating it too. The reality among Nikkei organizations is that we are seeing the merging of NAJC/JCCA organization with Nikkei cultural centres in order to maximize the limited human and monetary resources—this makes imminent sense and I expect to see more of this trend in the future.

Although Regina is our newest member, the Club has been active in the area since the early 1920s when it began life as a Japanese Men’s Club. The challenges facing all Nikkei communities scattered across Canada are identical to those facing the RJCC. They organize programs that honour seniors such as the Keirokai; family events such as picnics and Ohakamairi (visits to gravesites); annual general meetings and fundraising are all familiar activities. Regina’s permanent events have identified their target groups to be seniors and children. Acknowledging the power of social networking, they will look into the feasibility of establishing a facebook account and creating a website.

As I have noted many times over the last two years, the future of the NAJC is directly linked to the health of our member organizations and I, with the support of the executive, am determined to provide relevant programs and financial support to them as we move into next year – the 25th anniversary of the Redress Settlement. We have gathered a small group of young leader under co-chairs Lindsay Tsuji (Toronto) and Lisa Schoenhofer (Ottawa) at the Kamloops AGM with the task of planning and implementing a larger concurrent conference for youth at the 2013 AGM in Toronto. It is time for our organization to empower our young Nikkei leaders to take a leadership role in our organization now. Many of the Japan Relief campaigns were organized by Ijusha and Nikkei youth across Canada and they showed us the power of social media—let us harness their enthusiasm, skill and knowledge. Let’s learn from them and in turn share with them the 135 years of rich legacy forged by our Japanese Canadian ancestors who, in spite of naked racism, sacrificed their lives in foreign lands; suffered in the internment camps and helped to build this country.

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