Young Leaders Committee

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)

If you wish to contact committee members, please contact for more information. For the committee chair, please contact

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

How do I get involved?

Young Leaders Conferences

Since 2012, we have had a wide range of participation of young people between the ages of 13 to 35. Whether you’re a tried-and-tested community leader, or someone who is interested in further honing your leadership skills, there are activities and events relevant to people from all backgrounds. Typically, attendees are:

  • Young Leaders (suggested ages 13 – 35)
  • People already involved in the Japanese Canadian Community in their city
  • People looking to get involved in the Japanese Canadian Community in their city

One of the greatest challenges is getting people in the same city, as it can cost a lot to travel across such a large country. As part of helping further build our nation-wide community, the Young Leaders Committee is pleased to provide subsidies to help support travel and accommodations for young leaders.  Furthermore, we strongly encourage you to contact your local NAJC Member Organization for sponsorship opportunities to make it possible for you to attend. Please visit HERE for member organizations’ contact information. If you do not currently live near a Member Organization, please contact for more

JCYL Discord Server

Join the JCYL Discord community and connect with other young Japanese Canadian and Nikkei to embrace your heritage and identify, make meaningful connections and celebrate the unique blend of Japanese and Canadian cultures. Engage in discussions about community events, arts, literature, food and more! Join the JCYL today and be part of a supportive and inclusive community that values your voice. Let’s learn, grow, and build lasting connections together!
Join the JCYL Discord Server


Over the years we have had many inspiring volunteers dedicate their invaluable time and support to help contribute to the successes of the Young Leaders Conferences, and the Young Leaders Committee’s work. A special thank you to our volunteer professionals who helped capture the conference.

We are also constantly on the look out for new volunteers! Do you have experience in conference planning? Communications & social media? Activism & advocacy work in your community? If you’d like to get involved at a national level, please do not hesitate to contact for more information, or to let us know what you’d like to contribute!

Join the Committee

There are currently 8 Committee Members, each of whom serves for a term of two years. Please keep an eye on our website & social media, as we occasionally announce openings. Otherwise, please do not hesitate to contact for more information.