National Executive Board

Lorene Oikawa

VANCOUVER
President and Chair, Endowment Funds Committee

In addition to her NAJC responsibilities, Lorene Oikawa works for the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and is the Vice Chair of the Landscapes of Injustice Steering Committee. She also serves as the Vice President of the board of West Coast Environmental Law and is a founding member and director on the board of the Canadian Labour International Film Festival. She is the past President of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association. She was the first and only Asian Canadian executive vice president for the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) for three terms from 2005 to 2014.

She speaks and writes about her passions, including human rights and her heritage. She is a co-editor of the book, Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence, which tells the stories of Japanese Canadians who survived uprooting, dispossession, and internment. She has worked on a number of projects including the Hastings Park 1942 Signage Project and Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey.

Lorene, a University of British Columbia (UBC) alumna, is a strong advocate of life-long learning. She contributes to the experience and knowledge exchange by developing and delivering workshops, mentoring, and facilitating for government, community, and unions.

Lorene is a yonsei, a fourth generation Canadian. Her mother’s side of the family migrated from Hiroshima Japan in the 1800s, to Cumberland on Vancouver Island, and in 1906, her father’s side came from Sendai Miyagi-ken, and settled on Oikawa Island in Metro Vancouver.

president@najc.ca


Eiko Eby

NANAIMO
Secretary

Eiko Eby is active with the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) serving on the National Executive Board as the Secretary and is a member of the BC Redress Steering Committee. Eiko is a professor in the Faculty of Education - Sport, Health, and Physical Education Department at Vancouver Island University in BC. She is a Nikkei Yonsei with her family residing in Steveston and Haney prior to internment. Eiko is a Community Council Member of the Landscapes of Injustice Project which is a University of Victoria Research Project dedicated to the dispossession of property of Japanese Canadians during World War 2 in Canada. Eiko is currently the President of the Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Cultural Society in Nanaimo

secretary@najc.ca


Les Kojima

WINNIPEG
Treasurer

Les was born and raised in Winnipeg, but by the time of the September 22, 1988 redress agreement with the Government of Canada, he was the president of the Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Society. He lived in several countries from 1989 – 2016, including the Solomon Islands, Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Switzerland, the UK, the US, India and Sri Lanka. During the latter part of his career, Les worked as a financial management specialist in the South Asia region of the World Bank, covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Les returned to Winnipeg after retirement from The Bank in December 2016, and immediately immersed himself in the community. At the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba, he is a regular volunteer, sits on a number of committees, and serves as the Treasurer. He is also an active member of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple. His interests include playing squash and learning Japanese.

treasurer@najc.ca


Keiko Miki

WINNIPEG
Vice President and Chair, Human Rights Committee

vp@najc.ca


David Russell Nobuo Mitsui

EDMONTON
Past President

David Mitsui is a sansei, born and raised in the Hamilton, Ontario area and has lived in Edmonton, Alberta since 1978.

David is an active member of the Edmonton Japanese Community Association and served on it's Board of Directors from 2013 to 2016. David continues to volunteer with the EJCA serving on the Natsumatsuri Planning Committee and the Kimiko Shimizu Arts and Culture Development Grant Committee. David was a member of the NAJC National Council for 3 years in his capacity as President of EJCA.  David is the grandson of Sgt Masumi Mitsui MM and has been a member of the Japanese Canadian War Memorial Committee in Vancouver since 2012.

In September 2016 David was elected President of the NAJC and Chairs the National Executive Board for a 2 year term. As President of NAJC, David also Chairs the Endowment Fund Committee and is the NEB representative on the Community Renewal Fund Committee.

David retired in 2014 after a 31year career as the Practicum Supervisor/Instructor of the Professional Practicum Program in the recreation, physical education and kinesiology degree programs in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta. During his professional career, David served as President on the Board of Directors of both the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (1990-91) and the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (1999-2000). David is the recipient of the ARPA Award of Merit (2001), the CPRA Citation of Outstanding Achievement (2006), and the Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association's Individual Citation Award Recognizing Outstanding Service to the field of recreation therapy (2014).

In retirement, David now "practices what he used to preach". As an avid golfer David will play any day that ends in the letter "Y".

MA (Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Alberta, 1983)

BA (Honours Recreation/Business Administration/Therapeutic Recreation - Co-Operative Education, University of Waterloo, 1978)

pastpresident@najc.ca

Susanne Tabata

VANCOUVER
Director, Chair of the Arts, Culture and Education Committee

Susanne is a digital media producer whose passion is storytelling. Susanne was born in Nanaimo, and lived in Tokyo and Victoria before moving to Vancouver in 1978 to study International Relations at UBC. Tabata’s father is a Japanese Canadian whose internment experience during and after WWII has impacted Susanne’s choices of projects, which often focus on themes of alienation. A broadcast tv producer, Tabata has adjusted to the digital era and works across multiple platforms.  Susanne is on the Board of Directors of the Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association and the Steering Committee of the Landscapes of Injustice research collective.  She is currently a partner with the National Nikkei Museum’s Writing Wrongs: Japanese Canadian Letters of Protest from the 1940s, in development for the Virtual Museum of Canada. In 2012 she produced the centerpiece tribute video Welcome Home: UBC Japanese Canadian Students of 1942 for a special ceremony dedicated to students whose studies were interrupted during World War II. Tabata also designed, wrote, produced and directed the 10-part ethnography series for the Japanese Canadian National Museum called Ohanashi: Stories of Our Elders – a detailed examination of the experiences of Japanese Canadians who were interned during World War II – a story familiar to her father whose experiences are shared in the series. Susanne has a background as an instructional designer, and has conducted over 300 interviews, which advance the discussion of social justice. She teaches film studies & photojournalism part-time at Lasalle College Vancouver.
In 2017 she documented the Survivors Pole Project, for the Sacred Circle Society, and the City of Vancouver.  It is an homage to all survivors of the downtown eastside of Vancouver, and is led by their voices,  in particular activist and Haida carver Bernie “Skundaal” Williams.

Bryan Tomlinson

OTTAWA
Director and Chair, Constitution and Resolutions Committee

Bryan is a Vancouver-born yonsei who has been active in the Japanese Canadian community in both Vancouver and Ottawa. Currently Chair of the Constitution and Resolutions Committee and on the Board of the OJCA, Bryan has previously worked on a number of issues in the community, including the BC-Japan Earthquake Relief Fund and seeking recognition for the injustices faced by UBC’s wartime JC students.

Bryan holds a Dual Degree (BSc/BA) from UBC and an MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is currently working with Global Affairs Canada, focusing on Canada’s international Nuclear Security policy. Bryan is also a World Economic Forum “Young Global Shaper” in Ottawa, engaging in community improvement projects at both local and international levels.

governance@najc.ca


Kiyoshi Dembo

TORONTO
Director and Chair, Membership Committee

Kiyoshi Dembo (傳法清) is a Japanese Canadian native, born in Iizuka, coal mining town, Fukuoka prefecture and immigrated to Canada in 1991 with his family. The Dembo family is a only one with Japanese descent in Canada and novice director of NAJC.

However, through his professional career he has been working in human service area; 16 yrs. as a speech therapist at Kanagawa Rehabilitation Hospital & 22 yrs. as community programs coordinator of Momiji Health Care Society, Toronto along with 28 yrs. private practitioner of registered Speech-Language pathologist in Ontario. For volunteer experiences, recently he has served Japanese Social Services, Toronto as vice president for about 10 years and is now serving the Japanese Medical Support Network in Canada (JAMSNET-CANADA) as a chair of the Board of Directors since 2014, with 87 Japanese-speaking professionals all over Canada.

Kiyoshi Dembo has had a strong empathy towards frail people since he joined social survey of Nagasaki Atomic Bombed victims at Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo. After graduating in the post diploma program offered by the National Rehabilitation Centre, College, he developed a communication system for multi-disabled patients, educational programs for developmentally challenged and Saturday Japanese school students, and culturally specific programs for Japanese Canadian frail senior with dementia. He feels responsibility as a director who was elected at Winnipeg AGM in 2018 and strives to make NAJC more accessible to the people who are not familiar with. He will organize a bilingual national health conference by the end of his term, responding to the growing demands of our new immigrant population. (どうぞよろしくお願いいたします。)

membership@najc.ca


Alex Miki

WINNIPEG
Director and Chair, Young Leaders Committee

Alex is a gosei born and raised in Winnipeg. She has been involved with the local Japanese community since she was little, including volunteering at the Japanese Pavilion for Folklorama and spending ten years doing Odori. As the current chair of the Young Leaders Committee, she is excited to help bring the JC youth together from across the country and to promote youth focused programs and events, tackling issues and achieving goals relevant to the next generation.

Alex holds a BSc from the University of Winnipeg and is currently a microbiologist at an environmental testing laboratory in Winnipeg. When she is not working, Alex is travelling or cheering on the Chicago Blackhawks.

youngleaders@najc.ca



Kevin Okabe

Executive Director

Kevin has served as the part-time Executive Director for the NAJC since May 2018.

Kevin has been actively involved with the Japanese Canadian community at both the local and national levels for over thirty years.  Locally, he helped organize Japanese Canadian youth groups and served on the boards of community organizations in Winnipeg and Calgary. He chaired the 2011 Tsunami Relief campaign in Calgary, and is the former President of the Calgary Japanese Community Association.  Nationally, he served for five terms as Director, Secretary and Treasurer for the organization.  He worked on the NAJC’s Youth, Strategic Planning, Finance and Heritage Committees and was instrumental in helping shape the organization’s investment strategy.

Kevin comes to the NAJC after retiring from the private sector, where he served as Chief Operating Officer for MSH International (Canada), a provider of expatriate insurance solutions, for the past ten years.  He also spent over fifteen years working in public practice with Grant Thornton and PricewaterhouseCoopers .  He holds certifications as a Chartered Professional Accountant and in Information Technology audit and governance, and was recognized as one of Calgary’s Top 40 under 40 in 2007.  Together with his wife Naoko Maebashi, they own and operate two retail stores and a deli in Banff and Kananaskis, Alberta.

As Executive Director, Kevin’s priorities for the NAJC include:

  • Researching and suggesting strategic alternatives for consideration by the organization;
  • Supporting the work of the NAJC’s Executive Board and committees, including the organization of the Annual General meeting;
  • Stabilizing and streamlining the back office and accounting administration for the organization; and
  • Enhancing communication within the organization and strengthening partnerships to achieve common goals.

ed@najc.ca


Maria Karina Uehara

Maria Karina UeharaNational Administrator

Maria Karina Uehara has a Bachelor of Education with a specialization in School Administration and Management. She worked in schools for 18 years as a high school teacher, administrator’s assistant and coordinator in Argentina. Karina arrived to Canada in 2004 and obtained the Permanent Teacher Certification from the province. She taught Math in the Distance Learning Unit of Manitoba Education to high school students. She also got the Certificate in Adult Education and in Emerging Technologies from the University of Manitoba. She worked as a manager in a government-funded program that provided settlement services to newcomers for 11 years. She is a member of the JCAM board, volunteers at the center, and teaches Spanish at the Universite de Saint-Boniface. Karina believes that education can enable people to reach their full potential so they can make meaningful contributions to society.


NAJC boards

2005
Henry Kojima, President
George Uyeda, Vice-President
Angela Boyko, Treasurer
Grace Eiko Thomson, Secretary
Judy Hanazawa, Director
Joanne Planidin, Director
Yumi Schoenhofer, Director
Keiko Miki, Past President


2006
Henry Kojima, President
Keiko Miki, Past President
Angela Boyko, Treasurer
Grace Eiko Thomson, Secretary
Judy Hanazawa, Director
Joanne Planidin, Director
Yumi Schoenhofer, Director
George Uyeda


2007
Grace Eiko Thomson, chair
Charlotte Chiba
Masa Kagami
Henry Kojima
Terumi Kuwada
Angela Seller Boyko
Lucy Yamashita


2008
Grace Eiko Thomson, President
Charlotte Chiba,Vice-President and Chair
Angela Seller Boyko, Treasurer
Terumi Kuwada Director, CDC Chair
Joanne Planidin ,Director
Masa Kagami, Director
Pamela Sugiman, Director
Henry Kojima, Past President


2009
Terumi Kuwada, President & Chair
Masa Kagami, Vice President
Grace Eiko Thomson, Past President
Angela Foreman, Secretary
Takashi Ohki, Treasurer
Steven Seller, Director
Alan Tanaka, Director


2010
Terumi Kuwada, President & Chair
Masa Kagami, Vice President
Grace Eiko Thomson, Past President
Angela Foreman, Secretary
Takashi Ohki , Treasurer
Steven Seller, Director
Alan Tanaka, Director


2011
Ken Noma
Lillian Nakamura Maguire
Takashi Ohki, David Iwaasa
Terumi Kuwada
Steven Seller
Bev Ohashi


2012
Ken Noma, President
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
Kevin Okabe, Director
Valerie Hoshizaki, Director
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Tomoko Keheler-Yokobori, National Administrator


2013
Ken Noma, President
Lilian Nakamura Maguire, Vice President
Bev Ohashi, Secretary
Kevin Okabe, Directors
Lisa Schoenhofer
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin
Glenna Carlson, National Administrator


2014
Ken Noma
Lillian Nakamura Maguire
Kevin Okabe
Bev Ohashi
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin
Lisa Schoenhofer
Susan Matsumoto


2015
Bev Ohashi, Chair
Kevin Okabe, Treasurer
Lisa Schoenhofer, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Valerie Hoshizaki Nordin, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Secretary
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Jim Suzuki, National Administrator, Recorder
Tosh Kitagawa, Vice President


2016
David Mitsui, President
Lorene Oikawa, Vice President
Michiko Yano-Shuttleworth, Secretary
Noreen Kuroyama, Treasurer
Eiko Eby, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Director
Susanne Tabata, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Jim Suzuki, National Administrator, Recorder


2017
David Mitsui, President
Lorene Oikawa, Vice President
Noreen Kuroyama, Treasurer
Michiko Yano Shutttleworth, Secretary
Bev Ohashi, Past President
Susanne Tabata, Director
Eiko Eby, Director
Lisa Uyeda, Director
Susan Matsumoto, Director
Bryan Tomlinson, Director
Ken Noma, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator


2018
Lorene Oikawa, President
Keiko Miki, Vice President
Les Kojima, Treasurer
Eiko Eby, Secretary
Kiyoshi Dembo, Director
Alex Miki, Director
Susanne Tabata, Director
Bryan Tomlinson, Director
David Mitsui, Past President
Kevin Okabe, Executive Director
Karina Uehara, National Administrator