National Honorary Advisory Council

The NAJC National Honorary Advisory Council has eight members: Art Miki, Henry Yu, Terry Watada, Setsuko Thurlow, Keiko Miki, Maryka Omatsu, Mary Kitagawa and Tosh Kitagawa.

Art MikiDr. Arthur K. Miki, CM, OM

Arthur Miki has had a distinguished career as an educator and community activist. He began his career as an elementary school teacher and later served as principal for 18 years. Throughout his career, Mr. Miki dedicated a considerable amount of time in promoting positive race relations and a greater understanding between peoples, as well as to increase awareness of human rights issues in Canada. He was formerly the vice-chairperson of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and now advisor, president of the Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba (JCAM), and president of the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba.

Mr. Miki is an active leader in the Japanese Canadian community having served as president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) from 1984-1992. He led the negotiations to achieve a just redress settlement for Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War. In 1991, he received this country’s highest recognition, the Order of Canada. In October 1999, he received an Honourary Doctorate degree from the University of Winnipeg. On July 12, 2012, he received the Order of Manitoba. In 2014, he was awarded the Canadian Race Relations Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2016 the Harmony Award for leadership and Excellence from the Transformation Institute and Silvertrust Media.

On March 2, 2017, Art was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Government of Japan. This is the third highest order bestowed by the Japanese Government to individuals who have made distinguished achievements in international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, and advancements in their field. It is Art Miki’s long standing commitment on human rights, globalization, education, and community relations that he has received this prestigious award and for his involvement in the Japanese Canadian Redress and the promotion of Japanese Culture.

He is the author of The Japanese Canadian Redress Legacy: A Community Revitalized (2003) and co-author of Shaku of Wondrous Grace: Through the Garden of Yoshimaru Abe (2007). Mr. Miki was Citizenship Judge for Manitoba and Saskatchewan from 1998 to 2008 and was formerly a part time lecturer at the University of Winnipeg, Faculty of Education.

As a Founding Member of the NAJC and unwavering leadership in the Japanese Canadian community, Dr. Art Miki was selected to become a member on the NAJC National Honorary Advisory Council.

Henry YuDr. Henry Yu

Henry Yu is an Associate Professor of History, and the Principal of St. John’s College, UBC. He received his BA in History (Honours) from UBC and an MA and PhD in History from Princeton University. Prof. Yu’s research and teaching has been built around collaboration with local communities and civic society at multiple levels, in particular in the digital humanities.

In 2007 he was the Co-Chair of the Anniversaries of Change Steering Committee that oversaw a year of cultural events, art exhibits, and civic dialogues marking the 100th anniversary of the anti-Asian riots of 1907 in Vancouver, and between 2009-2012, he was the Co-Chair of the City of Vancouver’s Dialogues between First Nations, Urban Aboriginal, and Immigrant Communities Project. Between 2010-2012, he was the Project Lead for the “Chinese Canadian Stories” public history and education project funded by the Federal Government of Canada involving 29 community organizations across Canada. In 2014-15, Prof. Yu and his research team completed a project on Chinese and First Nations Gold Rush mining heritage sites along the Fraser River corridor,, and He is the Executive Producer of the film “All Our Father’s Relations,” directed by Alejandro Yoshizawa and produced by Sarah Ling, that tells the story of the Grant siblings who journey from Vancouver to China in an attempt to rediscover their father’s roots and better understand his fractured relationship with their Musqueam mother. Raised primarily in the traditions of the Musqueam people, the Grant family and their story reveals the shared struggles of Asian migrants and indigenous peoples in Canada today and in the past.

Dr. Yu was a member of the UBC Committee that organized the 1942 Japanese Canadian Students Degree Ceremony in 2012 and one of the faculty of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program that was created in 2014 as the result of commitments made by UBC Senate to honour the 76 Japanese Canadian UBC students who were removed in 1942.

He is the Project Lead for the Hong Kong Canada Crosscurrents Project (2012-2018) involving universities and community institutions in Canada, Hong Kong, and Macao, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Landscapes of Injustice Project on the dispossession of Japanese Canadians. In 2015, Prof. Yu was appointed as the Co-Chair for the Legacy Initiatives Advisory Council implementing legacy projects following the province’s apology in May 2014 for BC’s historic anti-Chinese legislation. He received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the BC Multicultural Award in 2015 in recognition of his community leadership.

Dr. Henry Yu’s significant contributions to Asian Canadian communities as well as his involvement in education made him an ideal nominee to become a member of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) National Honorary Advisory Council.

Terry WatadaTerry Watada

Terry Watada is a Toronto writer with many titles to his credit. His publications include Light at a Window (a manga, 2015), The Game of 100 Ghosts (poetry, 2014), The Sword, the Medal and the Rosary (a manga, 2013), The TBC: the Toronto Buddhist Church, 1995 – 2010, (non-fiction, 2010), Kuroshio: The Blood of Foxes, (novel, 2007), Obon: the Festival of the Dead (poetry, 2006), Ten Thousand Views of Rain (poetry, 2001), Seeing the Invisible (a children’s biography, 1998), Daruma Days (short fiction, 1997), Bukkyo Tozen: a History of Buddhism in Canada (non-fiction, 1996) and A Thousand Homes (poetry, 1995). He is also proud to be part of the anthology Vancouver Confidential (ed. John Belshaw, 2014), which was ranked number 1 by the BC Publishers Association two weeks in a row. His latest publications include The Nishga Girl, a children’s story about Judo Jack Tasaka (a Nisei boatbuilder) and Eli Gosnell, a chief of the Nisga’a Nation. His second novel, The Three Pleasures was released during the spring 2017.

As a playwright, he has seen seven of his plays achieve mainstage production; his best known is perhaps Vincent, a play about a Toronto family dealing with a schizophrenic son remounted every year from 1993 to 2008 and again in 2017. Most notably, it was produced at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and the first and second Madness and Arts World Festival in Toronto and Muenster, Germany, respectively.

His essays have been published in such varied journals and books as Maclean's Magazine (March 2011), Canadian Literature (UBC), and Ritsumeikan Hogaku “Kotoba to sonohirogari” (Ritsumeikan University Press, Kyoto Jpn). He wrote a monthly column in the Japanese-Canadian national journal the Nikkei Voice for 25 years. Since 2012, he has continued his column in the Vancouver JCCA Bulletin when the magazine expanded to a national level. Essays about his work have appeared in the International Journal of Canadian Studies, Modern Drama (UTP), and in Transcultural Reinventions: Asian American and Asian Canadian Short-Story Cycles (TSAR Publications).

For all his efforts, Terry was awarded the William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award from the City of Toronto and a Citation of Citizenship from the Government of Canada. Recently, he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the NAJC’s National Merit Award. His dedication to the development of human rights in Canada was recognized with the Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Award.

His archives of the Asian North American experience have been collected as the Terry Watada Special Collection and housed in the East Asian Library. His literary papers are part of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Robarts Library, the University of Toronto. His theatre production papers are part of the Guelph University Library collection, his oral history is stored within the Simon Fraser University Library.

As a writer who has dedicated his works about Japanese Canadians as well as a songwriter/performer, Terry Watada has defined the Japanese Canadian community and culture through his contributions. He is also the president of the Hastings Park Foundation for Rights. For these reasons, Terry Watada was selected to be a member of the NAJC National Honorary Advisory Board.

Setsuko ThurlowSetsuko Thurlow, CM MSW

Setsuko Nakamura Thurlow was born in Hiroshima, Japan on January 3, 1932, was educated at Hiroshima Jogakuin University, Hiroshima, Lynchburg College (Lynchburg, Virginia), and the University of Toronto School of Social Work, receiving BA, BSW, MSW.

Upon graduation from University of Toronto, Setsuko returned to Japan to teach and practice social work at Tokyo Family Court Training Institute, and in the Osaka area with students and women's groups at Kwansei Gakuin University.

Since 1962 Setsuko Thurlow has been a permanent resident of Toronto.  She was an Associate Director of the Northeastern Area YWCA of Metropolitan Toronto, Coordinator of the Parent Education Program at the Hugh McMillan Centre for Children with Disabilities, and school social worker with the Toronto Board of Education.  She also acted as a field instructor for graduate students of Social Work at the University of Toronto.

Her social work practice culminated in the founding of Japanese Family Services of Metropolitan Toronto in response to the unmet needs of the Japanese ethnocultural community for equitable accessibility to professional, culturally and linguistically appropriate family services.  JFSMT was founded in 1990 and was an active member of the Multicultural Coalition of Family Services Agencies of Metropolitan Toronto.

Setsuko Thurlow’s professional activities included serving on the boards of the Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers, American Orthopsychiatric Association, Yorkville Health Centre, Social Planning Council of Metropolitan Toronto and the University of Toronto Alumni Association.

As a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, she has been engaged through most of her life for public education & advocacy for nuclear disarmament, the scope of which has expanded from local to international level over the years.

Her efforts around the world have been recognized by membership in the Order of Canada, Commendation from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Nuclear Weapons Abolition Advocacy, Arms Control Person of the Year for 2015 (Arms Control Association, Washington, DC), Distinguished Peace Leadership Award (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, California), Peace Ambassador (University for Peace, San Jose, Costa Rica), Hiroshima Peace Ambassador, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Peace Prize (London, UK), and others.

Setsuko Thurlow is the 2015 recipient of the Art Miki Leadership Award and delivered a powerful speech at the 2015 NAJC AGM about her experiences and promotion for peace.  The National Executive Board selected and recognized her as a member of the NAJC National Honorary Advisory Council.

Keiko MikiKeiko Miki

Keiko Miki (nee: Nishikihawa) was born in Steveston, British Columbia but forcibly relocated to Minto, BC as an infant and later to a Sugar Beet Farm in Manitoba during World War II. In Winnipeg, Keiko attended schools and worked as a registered nurse.

During the past 35 years of community volunteer service, Keiko participated in the redress movement through the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens’Association (MJCCA), now Japanese Cultural Association of Manitoba (JCAM) Redress Committee and National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) Activities. Her commitment and dedication to the JC communities are recognized in the leadership and active roles she fulfilled in the following positions:

• Chair of MJCCA History Committee publishing a book called “The History of Japanese Canadians in Manitoba”
• President and Board member of MJCCA
• Chair and Member of the NAJC Human Rights Committee
• President and Vice President of NAJC
• Board Member of the Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC)
• Member of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights Advisory Council, and
• Board Member of Manitoba Ethnocultural Advisory and Advocacy Council (MEAAC)

Keiko’s extensive involvement and advocacy with the Japanese Canadian community and organizations are the evidence that she was selected to become a member of the NAJC National Honorary Advisory Council.

Currently, Keiko Miki is retired, married with 3 children and 3 grandchildren. She remains to be active as a member of Rehfit, a health and fitness facility, chair of JCAM Family History Preservation Project, and Vice President of JCAM Horizon Club. In the local community of Winnipeg, she participated in the Reconciliation Canada Workshop at University of Manitoba, attended the Asian Heritage Society Panel Discussion on Asian-Canadian Refugee Experience held at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Her continuous engagement and determination are qualities that defines Keiko Miki where she will advocate for equitable inclusion and human rights. She continues to serve as a Special Advisor to the NAJC Human Rights Committee.

Maryka OmatsuThe Honorable Justice Maryka Omatsu M.A., LL.B

Appointed in Feb. 2003, Judge Maryka Omatsu is Canada’s first female judge of East Asian ancestry. She sat in criminal court in downtown Toronto and also presided in the therapeutic courts in the areas of: Domestic Violence, First Nations, Mental Health and Drug Treatment. Judge Omatsu established a dispute resolution court for consenting persons who have ongoing relations. Nation-wide she was co-chair of the National Judge’s Association on Equality and Diversity, co-editing the Judge’s Handbook on Equality & Diversity (2007). For seven years (2000-2007), she was a Toronto representative of the Ontario Judge’s Association, negotiating successfully for sabbaticals and a less discriminatory pension. She retired in 2013 but continues to sit part time in Toronto.

In 2006, Judge Omatsu was a co-founder of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (FACL). Today, FACL represents over 1,500 Asian Canadian lawyers across the country, speaking for equality, diversity and justice on behalf of their communities.

Before her appointment, Judge Omatsu practised law in Toronto for 16 years working in criminal, human rights, and environmental law, at times representing Aboriginal peoples. During those years, she also worked for all 3 levels of Government, taught in Lanzhou, China and Ryerson University in Toronto and lectured in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan. She was the first Chair of the Ontario Human Rights Appeals Tribunal, a referee for the Law Society of Upper Canada on client disputes and a member of the Ontario Government’s Fair Tax Commission, on women’s issues.

During the 1980’s Judge Omatsu was a member of the National Association of Japanese Canadians’ strategy and negotiation teams. She helped her community win a hard fought victory for their denial of civil rights, World War II incarcerations in British Columbia prison camps, loss of property and the 1947 deportations to Japan. In 1988, pursuant to the negotiated settlement, the Canadian Government apologized to the Japanese Canadian community, established a community fund and the Race Relations Foundation to combat racism, and awarded compensation of $21,000.00 to affected individuals. This award of over $400 Million was at the time, the largest human rights award in Canada’s history and stands as a deterrent to protect other vulnerable minorities.

In 1992, Judge Omatsu wrote Bittersweet Passage: Redress and the Japanese Canadian Experience, which documented her community’s history in Canada. The Book won the Prime Minister’s Award for Publishing and the Laura Jamieson Prize for the “best feminist book” in 1992. Bittersweet Passage was translated into Japanese and published in Japan in 1994.

During Judge Omatsu’s career she has been awarded: the Order of Ontario (2015), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Associations’s (representing over 50,000 Asian American lawyers) highest honour, Trail Blazer Award (2013), the FACL Life Time Achievement Award (2010), an inductee to (her high school) Delta SS. Wall of Excellence (2008), the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), the William Timbers Lecturer, Dartmouth College (2002), the Lansdowne Lecturer, Victoria University, British Columbia (1995); the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council grants to publish her book; the Department of External Affairs grants to travel to Japan to publicize her book and to give lectures (1994, 1997).

Her extensive and outstanding achievements and contributions in Canada and the Japanese Canadian communities substantiate the decision the National Executive Board (NEB) of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) made to select Judge Omatsu as a member of the National Honorary Advisory Council.

Mary KitagawaMary Kitagawa

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island where she lived until the uprooting. After her father’s arrest, her mother and the five children were sent to Hastings Park, Greenwood, Magrath, Alberta, Popoff, Bay Farm, Slocan, Rosebery, New Denver, Magrath and Cardston, Alberta. She graduated from Cardston High and went on to Trinity College, University of Toronto. At UBC, she received her secondary teaching credential and taught at Kitsilano Secondary School.

She and her husband Tosh belonged to the Greater Vancouver JCCA Human Rights Committee for 23 years. In 2006, they were involved in the renaming of the Howard Charles Green building to Douglas Jung building in Vancouver. In 2008, they began lobbying for UBC to give honorary degrees to the 76 Japanese Canadian students who were expelled from UBC in 1942. Success was achieved in 2012 when UBC held a special congregation for those students, digitized historical documents and created a new minor course in the Faculty of Arts called the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration program.

Mary is on the Community Council in the Landscapes of Injustice project at the University of Victoria.

Mary and Tosh continue to educate the public by speaking out about Japanese Canadian history and social justice.

Mary’s rich history and her tireless commitment to address social justice defined the basis to select Mary Kitagawa as a member of the NAJC National Honorary Advisory Council. In 2013, Mary was also the recipient of the NAJC Leadership Award for the contributions she has made in the Japanese Canadian communities.

Tosh KitagawaTosh Kitagawa

Tosh Kitagawa was born in Mission, BC. In 1942, he and his family were incarcerated in the beet fields in Diamond City, Alberta. He graduated from Lethbridge High School and later worked in business. After moving to Vancouver, he became involved with the Japanese Canadian community during our fight for redress. He belonged to the GVJCCA Human Rights Committee for 23 years. Each year at the Powell Street Festival he and his wife Mary raised funds for the committee by selling greenhouse vegetables.

He represents the Japanese Canadian community on the Community Council in the Landscapes of Injustice project at University of Victoria that is collecting data and stories of the resources lost by the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II. Tosh was an equal partner with Mary in successfully getting honorary degrees for the 76 UBC Japanese Canadian students who were expelled in 1942.

Tosh became the NAJC Vice President and Chair of the Human Rights Committee for one term that organized the Elders Summit with various partners at UBC. Since 2016, Tosh serves as a Special Advisor to the NAJC where he continues to provide resources and support for fund-raising and advocate for a new project to establish a Memorial Wall in Vancouver commemorating the 22,000 incarcerated Japanese Canadians during World War II.

Also a recipient of the NAJC Leadership Award in 2013 along with his wife, Mary, Tosh is instrumental in being a strong voice of human rights and leadership to remember the Japanese Canadian history and presence in Canada. Tosh was co-editor of the book, “Silence ……” just published in 2016.

His unwavering dedication to the Japanese Canadian community and his involvement on the National Executive Board of the NAJC are milestones of his achievements that the NEB has selected Tosh Kitagawa as a member of the National Honorary Advisory Council.