As NAJC President, I was honoured to accept an invitation to “Witnessing the Future” ceremony of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) at Rideau Hall, on October 15, 2009. This was an occasion that focused on “listening to and learning from the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools”. In keeping with Aboriginal traditions, occasions of great significance are witnessed by an individual who is esteemed and held in high regard. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada accepted the role of “witness”. The guests of honour to this event were the survivors of the residential school experience and their grand children. The stories they told were very powerful in their content and spoke to the lasting scars and harm that many survivors have endured in the past and continue to haunt them today. As the Chairperson of the TRC, The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair stated: ” We, and you, are not out of that past yet. Our families were broken and must be rebuilt”.
The TRC hearings over the next five years in various centres across Canada are intended to have the truth told by the survivors and so by telling their stories, healing and reconciliation will take place. It is the hope of the TRC that greater understanding and respect will evolve between Aboriginal peoples and the peoples of Canada through the hearings. The NAJC has made a commitment to the aboriginal communities that we support the TRC process. Our initial plan includes hosting educational workshops in our communities.
On October 16/09, the NAJC HRC met in Vancouver for a meeting to review current activities and to establish priorities. Some highlights to consider for the coming year will involve follow-up activities from the Honouring our People conference, human rights information on the website, governance issues, guidelines to structure the committee, and other matters related to international concerns.
The NAJC AGM was held on October 17-18, in Vancouver with delegates/alternates/observers attending from across Canada. Major challenges facing the NAJC, regarding our financial investments was discussed and a decision made to change our investment management. This was a difficult issue to decide, but one that was done with respect and responsibility. A Heritage Task Force was created at the AGM, to a)encourage and assist Japanese-Canadian communities in the preservation, maintenance and dissemination of Japanese-Canadian heritage and history b) monitor representation of Japanese-Canadian history in Canadian society c) propose recommendations at the 2010 AGM regarding a) and b) above to the membership.
Thanks to all who attended the AGM and a special thanks to the GVJCCA, for hosting the event.