NAJC Chats with Steven Kariya

The National Association of Japanese Canadians has been checking in with some members of the Japanese Canadian community during this time when we’ve been social distancing and trying to stay home as much as possible. We’ll share some of our conversations in our e-news and social media.

In May 2020, we had a chat with Steven Kariya, a professional hockey scout and former professional ice hockey winger who was born in North Vancouver, British Columbia. He is currently living in Vancouver.

NAJC: Hi Steve. This is National Association of Japanese Canadians. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us and letting members of the Japanese Canadian community know what you’re up to.

SK: Hello fellow Japanese Canadians! I hope you are all in good health and managing your way through these extraordinary times as well as you can. To those who have lost loved ones and close friends my deepest sympathies and condolences to you.

NAJC: With the shutdown of the NHL due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what are the changes to your work routine?

SK: Like all of you, my daily routine has dramatically changed since mid-March when measures were put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. I work for the New York Islanders as a professional hockey scout. My regular job duties came to a screeching halt as the NHL and AHL hockey seasons were abruptly paused, and travel in and out of the country was limited. Traveling from city to city to watch live hockey games was replaced with watching old games on the computer and writing reports from home.

NAJC: What are some of the things you miss? [Note: this interview took place in May 2020]

SK: On the personal front, there are numerous things I miss doing in my day-to-day life. I miss going out to eat (especially to my favourite Japanese restaurant in North Vancouver, Hamaei). I miss going to the gym for a work out. I miss going to the movies, concerts and various sporting events. Most of all I miss visiting with friends and family in person without any restrictions. I’m sure we each have a long list of things we miss doing. As with most things in life, there are certain things you can control and then there are other things that you cannot. My attitude toward this pandemic is definitely one thing that is firmly in my control and it has been to find the positives of the current situation, where and when I can.

NAJC: What are some of the positives for you?

SK: For one, it has been great to have some extra time together with my partner at home. We both have busy jobs and typically we have other commitments that take us away from home. I’ve also made a point since this pandemic began of connecting with friends over the phone whenever I can. Through my travels as a hockey player I’ve been very fortunate to make friends across North America and in Europe. In my conversations with them I find it humbling to know that everyone is going through the same adversity right now no matter where they reside on the planet. Whether you live on your own, with a significant other, or a larger family, know that you are not alone. Reaching out to friends and family with the help of technology or outside at a social distance is a great way to keep active mentally and avoid feelings of isolation. I know it has made a big difference for me over the last two months. We all need that moral support from friends and family to get through this.

NAJC: Being an athlete, what are some of the ways you are trying to keep fit?

SK: To keep physically active, my partner and I (probably like many of you) have been going on lots of neighborhood walks. If possible, we try to walk in quiet neighborhoods at less busy times of the day. We like to pick out our favourite homes on each block, so that there’s always something new to enjoy. I’ve also been trying to get out on my road bike whenever I can and I am doing some light weight lifting at home. I find that taking some short breaks during the day to work in a little physical activity helps break up the monotony of sitting at the desk all day. I definitely feel more productive when I’m able to do this and every little bit you can work in helps.

NAJC: Is there anything else you are doing for wellness?

SK: To keep mentally active, my partner and I have been playing board games more often (backgammon is a favourite). I’ve also enjoyed trying new recipes as we are eating at home more frequently. Cooking is a great way to stimulate the brain and keep the body filled with nutritious food. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I would love to learn to play the piano. While this is a great time to try and remain physically and mentally active or to take up a new activity you have never tried before, there are also times when both your body and mind benefit from taking the time to slow things down. Some days, looking after yourself might just mean taking advantage of the fact that life has slowed for many of us. Personally, I have enjoyed catching up on new Star Wars content and doing some non work-related reading. This pandemic won’t last forever and when we look back on this time, there may be certain aspects we miss when it is over. I feel that time is already flying by.

NAJC: Any last thoughts to share?

SK: Before I let you go I just wanted to thank and give my appreciation to the many people in our country who are keeping us safe. In BC we are very lucky to have Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry and other government officials guiding us through this pandemic. Thank you to all of our health care workers who have been outstanding throughout this pandemic and are true heroes. Thank you to all of the other essential workers in the community and across the country that keep our country going. Lastly, thank you to all of my fellow Japanese Canadians who are doing their part, whether that means continuing to go to work every day or staying at home so we can save lives. I feel proud of our community knowing that everyone is doing their part to keep us safe. We have all sacrificed a lot but I know we will get through this together.

Thanks for taking the time to read this conversation. Be patient and keep doing your part to see Team Canada through this. Stay safe.

NAJC: Thank you Steven Kariya.

Scroll to top