NAJC President’s Message – August 2021

by Lorene Oikawa

One of the special joys of summer is the bounty of fruit and vegetables. As much as I love finding my food treasures at markets, my favourites are home grown by family. I miss my obaachan’s garden and spending time with her. Recently, I was surprised with a box delivered by my cousin who had come back from a visit to his parents in Kamloops. Sun-kissed tomatoes, glossy Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, and a giant zucchini. Thank you to my aunt and uncle. Besides the wonderful meals I will enjoy using the veg, I am happy to see some of the pre-COVID19 normalcy return. Families are starting to travel and meet up.

Considering all that we have missed during the lockdowns, it’s difficult not to want to rush back into our former routines. The one spoiler is the Delta variant which is surging across the world and accounts for most of the infections in Canada. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it’s highly contagious, similar to chickenpox transmission where an infected person infects about 9 other people. A person infected with the original COVID19 infected about 2 people similar to the transmission of the common cold. The areas with lower vaccination rates seem to be most at risk and those who are unvaccinated tend to be most of the more severe cases.

Please enjoy opportunities to travel and gather safely. Follow health authority recommendations. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbours to get vaccinated. Continue to wear masks indoors, maintain distancing, personal space, and keep washing your hands.

Until we can meet safely in person, it was great to have a telephone chat with Setsuko Thurlow. Setsuko is a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. She will be a speaker at the August 6, 2021, Hope for the Earth, an online ceremony to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki and commit to action for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Setsuko hopes to see you at this year’s event and said, “Seventy-six years ago, I survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, unlike the hundreds of thousands of people who were indiscriminately massacred in August 1945. At that time, like many survivors, I made a vow that their deaths would not be in vain. I vowed that I would work until my last breath, to warn the world about the danger of nuclear weapons, to make sure that no one else suffers as we have suffered. Let us honour the people who perished with our actions. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has entered into force this year. Nuclear weapons have always been immoral. Now they are also illegal. Nuclear abolitionists everywhere can be incredibly encouraged and empowered by this new legal status. And now, with greater intensity and purpose, we will push forward to our ultimate goal — a world without nuclear weapons.”

Register for the 7pm EDT event at NAJC is a supporter and sponsor.

NAJC is continuing our online programming. Check our website as we add new online sessions. You can find archived recordings and interviews in the Past section of Online Programs on our website and also on the National Association Japanese Canadians YouTube channel.

One of the sessions we will posting is the Landscapes of Injustice (LOI) Research Database and Family Story Sharing we co-hosted with LOI Project Manager Michael Abe at the end of last month in association with the Powell Street Festival. Tami Hirasawa, president of the Central Vancouver Island Japanese Canadian Cultural Society (Seven Potatoes), her mother Joyce (née Fujimagari) Hirasawa, and other family members provided perspective from three generations of their family. Kevin Okabe, executive director of NAJC, shared his Okabe and Nagasaka family history. They also shared their research from the LOI database. The recorded session will be posted at

We continue to speak on human rights issues and in August there are two commemorative dates to note for annual recognition when we can reflect, listen, and continue to learn. This year, the House of Commons officially designated August 1 Emancipation Day to celebrate Black communities in Canada and recognize that it’s the actual day in 1834 when slavery was abolished in Canada.

On August 9, it’s the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. We urge people to get to know Indigenous history in Canada and learn about the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The NAJC has joined with other Japanese Canadian organizations to endorse an Open Letter to Japanese Canadians and allies to support Indian Residential School Survivors. You can sign the letter at this link: For anyone in Canada who is experiencing pain or distress because of their Residential School experience, please know there is support through the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419, available 24-hours a day.
Sign up at for NAJC e-news and don’t miss any updates and information about our initiatives, events, opportunities, and news. Please also support local events and to connect with NAJC member organizations, check out the NAJC website

The NAJC National Executive Board wishes you a wonderful August and please check on seniors, those at home who are ill and/or alone, during heatwaves and extreme weather conditions. Take care.

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