Created in 2014 at the Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference in Vancouver, BC, the Young Leaders Committee is comprised of young Japanese Canadians from across our country who are active and engaged young leaders in their respective communities. Committee Members bring a rich and diverse set of perspectives to the work of the Committee, reflecting the wide range of Members’ backgrounds. The Young Leaders Committee operates under the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC), and is responsible for:
- acting as the national voice of young people in Japanese Canadian communities;
- engaging and connecting young people in Japanese Canadian communities across Canada; and
- proposing recommendations to the NAJC National Executive Board on programming, events, and annual budget.
Who is on the Young Leaders Committee?
The Young Leaders Committee consists of a Chair (who also sits on the NAJC’s National Executive Board as a Director) and several Members who lead on specific priorities.
The Committee is balanced in terms of its gender and geographic representation (no more than two people from each city), and we come from a wide range of private, public and non-profit sectors, including academia.
The 2023-2024 Young Leaders Committee:
Alex Okuda-Rayfuse (Ottawa, Ontario) – Chair
Stéphane Hamade (Hamilton, Ontario) – Former Chair
Téa Miyanaga (Edmonton, Alberta) – Secretary
Niina Dubik (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Bailey Midori Hoy (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Robert Duffy (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Mayumi Lashbrook (Toronto, Ontario)
Mika Kobayashi (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Hanako Teranishi (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
Miku Kawashima (Whitehorse, Yukon)
Djuna Nagasaki (Victoria, British Columbia)
Rebecca Keindel (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
Nadiah Sakurai (Ottawa, Ontario)
What does the Young Leaders Committee do?
The Young Leaders Committee is involved in a range of activities aimed at helping build a network of young people in Japanese Canadian communities across Canada, namely through engaging young people through organizing leadership conferences, providing funding opportunities for local initiatives, and advocating for young peoples’ interests on a national scale. More details about those activities are outlined below.
Japanese Canadian Young Leaders Conference (JCYLC): Since 2012, the Young Leaders Committee organizes an annual Young Leaders Conference to foster leadership in all Japanese Canadian communities across Canada. The JCYLC is a space for Japanese Canadian young people to remember the past, recognize the present, and imagine the future of the Japanese Canadian community! By prioritizing dialogue and empowering young people through workshops, heritage tours, panels, and inter-generational discussions, the JCYLC offers a unique opportunity for young Japanese Canadians to develop, inspire and lead nikkei communities across the country!
“The conferences educate, inspire, and connect young people with powerful ideas that can help motivate you and your community. Great speakers, interactive discussions, networking, and facilitated workshops ensure you make new connections and energize your inner leader!” – Lisa Schoenhofer (former Chair, Young Leaders Committee)
Young Leaders Fund (YLF): Since 2015, the Young Leaders Committee has been pleased to manage the Young Leaders Fund, which provides young leaders across the country with the opportunity to apply for youth-specific funding for your projects and initiatives. Applications are accepted on an annual basis for funding with the possibility of a maximum of $2000 for your initiative. Please find more information about this exciting opportunity here.
Advocacy & Activism: At the 2016 Calgary JCYLC, participants articulated a number of the youth-specific interests that characterize the interests and concerns of the next generation of leaders in the Japanese Canadian community. The Young Leaders Committee is taking steps to advocate for young peoples’ interests on a national scale. Some of the key Goals identified by Japanese Canadian Young Leaders for the next five years include, but are not limited to:
- Identity: Connect with our roots, history, and heritage, and foster an understanding for Japanese Canadian culture and history; Explore intersections between the multiple Japanese Canadian identities, including mixed-ancestry identity, and the modern Japanese identity.
- Community building: Encourage friendship and networking with new and different people in the Japanese Canadian community; Continue to create leadership and volunteering opportunities; and improve inter-generational relations, including through fostering better communication, and through getting family and parents involved.
- Activism: Better organize in order to take measures to provoke change through activism in the Japanese Canadian community and with other communities across Canada; Explore opportunities to help foster justice and advocacy, including through supporting other communities.
- Other Issues to consider: Increase membership in Japanese Canadian community associations, including through promoting more diversity in membership; Expand Japanese Canadian associations’ work beyond traditional priorities (e.g. events and membership) to address contemporary interests, such as more advocacy work and outreach with other communities.