I wish you much happiness and good health in the Year of the Rabbit.
Early this year, “The Bulletin” reported in their February issue that the provincial government of British Columbia has cut arts funding by 80-90%. Given the fact that this sector generates 5.2 billion dollars and employs 80,000 people in the province, the move is regressive and ill-advised and targets a community that historically live a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence. In the same issue, Jay Hirabayashi, founder of the Kokoro Dance Theatre Society, candidly noted the negative financial impact that this move will have on him and I could not help admire his dedication to his craft in spite of the staggering setback.
The Humanist Institute for Development and Co-operation argues that the arts help to deal with violence, poverty and authoritarian regimes. Art is essential for the development of the whole child and gives expression to ideas, beliefs and experiences of communities. Artists have, in some instances, been the vanguard of cultural and political change. For a small Nikkei community such as ours, the arts help to define us by uniting our ancestral past with the multicultural influences within Canada. We must support Japanese Canadian artists and all arts and cultural programmes. The NAJC has modestly supported arts and cultural initiatives over the years. We note with pride the recent achievements of Jeff Chiba Stearns, a past recipient of the Endowment Fund and a retiring member of the Endowment Fund Committee. Well done Jeff and much success!
As a legacy of the Redress Campaign the NAJC received seed money from the Redress Foundation towards the creation of the Endowment Fund. The interest generated goes towards the Sports, Education and Arts Development (SEAD) and the Cultural Development (CD) Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to assist the Japanese Canadian community evolve educationally, socially and culturally within the larger Canadian society. SEAD funds are mainly for younger Nikkei with the hope that the grant money will be used by the recipient to achieve a higher level of development in an area where they show an aptitude which might be enhanced with further studies and training. The CD funds are for programmes and projects which will promote and strengthen the Japanese Canadian community. The only limitation is the amount of money available but it is estimated that we have awarded more than $100,000 to date as fulfillment of the Redress Settlement legacy. Please visit our website: http://www. najc.ca for further information.
On behalf of the NAJC, I would like to congratulate the Fall 2010 Endowment Fund winners:
- Alexandra Yoshi Allen (Winnipeg)
- Christina Sumie Hirukawa (Vancouver)
- Amanda Kimoto (Calgary)
- Yota Kobayashi (Vancouver)
- Momoko Allard (Montreal)
- Kaori Kasari (Vancouver)
- Pia Massie (Vancouver)
- Pangae Art (Vancouver)
- Sakura Singers (Vancouver)
- Steveston Buddhist Temple (Steveston)
- Jean Maeda (Japan/Winnipeg)
- Katherine Yamashita (Toronto)
- Tiresias (Vancouver)
- Rachel Sachiko Mercer (Hamilton)
The National Executive Board met the first weekend in December to address some of the issues that were raised by chapters at the Ottawa AGM. In this age of social networking, the NEB is committed to improving its current website as well as the digitization of the NAJC records which are stored in our Winnipeg office. The budgets (to March 2011) for the Human Rights Committee and the newly formed Heritage Committee were approved. We will be looking into creating and updating terms of reference for our committees as well as filling vacancies in the Membership Committee and appointing an executive committee Director. I will keep you apprised of the developments of these and other issues in future articles.
I welcome your comments and advice. Please email me at: National@najc.ca