On the weekend of September 15th, delegates to the NAJC annual general meeting will gather in Kamloops, British Columbia. On behalf of the NAJC, I wish to thank and recognize the hard work of the Kamloops NAJC and the Kamloops Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre – co-chairs Betty Inouye and George Uyeda – in particular, for their guidance and leadership. The AGM is an opportunity to touch base with Nikkei leaders from across Canada. As we are the only national Japanese Canadian organization, it is important to listen to the challenges faced by local organizations and determine if we can collectively act upon those concerns. It is also an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements of individuals and organizations. The Canadian government’s policy of dispersal scattered our community across countless miles in this vast country but it spite of it, we have continued to tenaciously survive for 135 years. We will also be announcing the recipient of the first Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Award.
As an evolution of the discussions which took place at the 2010 AGM held in Ottawa, we will have discussions around Communication among and between NAJC and member organizations; Identification of Action items on National and Community Issues; Japanese Canadian Identity and History; Expanding Membership and; the Current NAJC Membership Structure.
An initiative to be revived at the AGM will be the development of our young leaders. The last NAJC youth conference was the ‘Emerging Leaders Conference’ held under the NAJC banner at Thunder Bay in 2003. Flush from the Redress Settlement, the first NAJC National Youth Forum was held in September 1989 in which 70 participants attended from 12 out of 14 member organizations (see www.najc.ca/about-2/reports/ ). As a result of the forum, youth groups were established in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Currently, only Calgary has a youth group, although one is being formed in Toronto. Another benefit was that a large number of attendees volunteered their services to local and national Nikkei organizations as well as cultural events as the Powell Street Festival; Folklorama in Winnipeg etc. The 2013 AGM planned for Toronto will build on the momentum which will be created in Kamloops in order to make it a regular concurrent event annually.
Kamloops will also build upon the first workshop on Digital Storytelling that was led by David Tanaka or Lethbridge at the Edmonton AGM. A Digital Postcard workshop will be held Friday afternoon and a general session on the topic will be held on Sunday morning.
I look forward to sharing with you my impressions of the annual general meeting in a future issue of The Bulletin.