NAJC President’s Message – February 2020

by Lorene Oikawa

January has flown by so fast as quickly as the rat that leapt its way to be first in the 12 year zodiac.

This Year of the Rat sees the NAJC moving forward with great energy. We are continuing work on BC Redress to honour the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were uprooted, dispossessed, and interned. We will be meeting with the BC government this month, and will have more to share. Check the NAJC communications for up-to-date information.

News such as links to media stories are posted on the NAJC website. Watch for our communication in the Nikkei Voice, The Bulletin, regular newsletters, and social media.

Please provide the NAJC with your current email address to continue to receive the NAJC e-news or sign up at our website to start receiving the latest information. Members will continue to receive regular member newsletters.

We are also busy refreshing the content on our website. For example, for the NAJC Endowment Fund, we will be using a new application form to streamline the process and make it easier to collate the information. The deadline for the Cultural Development Fund and SEAD (Sports, Education, and Arts Development) Program under the NAJC Endowment Fund is March 31. For member and supporting organizations, the Community Development Fund, which addresses capacity building, has a new application form. More information is listed under Funds and Awards on the NAJC website.

The NAJC continues to work collaboratively with the community. For example, the Landscapes of Injustice project, a seven-year, multi-partner research project exploring the forced dispossession of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. As vice-chair of the steering committee, I met with the committee to discuss the upcoming Landscapes of Injustice book coming out this spring, and in the fall, a presentation of other resources such as a public history website, teacher resources and a museum exhibit. The results of this project will be shared with a large and diverse audience.

We are also working with the community in Port Alberni to support the school district’s plan to change the name of an elementary school named after A.W. Neill, a BC politician whose racism is well documented.

Our local member organizations also continue to share Japanese Canadian stories, arts, and culture. Please support their events as they are helping preserve the history of our ancestors, educating people, and helping to build inclusive and welcoming communities.

Through our connections we made in COPANI XX in San Francisco, we have been asked to share information about a historic event being organized by Tsuru for Solidarity. The National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps will take place in Washington DC on June 5-7, 2020. Japanese Canadians are invited to participate along with Japanese Americans and allies. The goal of the pilgrimage is to unify and heal, and to stand in solidarity with immigrants and all people of colour who are being targeted by racist policies reminiscent of what happened to Americans and Canadians of Japanese ancestry. Participants will bring 125,000 paper cranes to be placed on the fence around the White House. Each crane represents a Japanese American and Japanese Latin American incarcerated in camps in the USA during World War 2. For more information about how to participate and the agenda, please go to the Tsuru for Solidarity website.

Pink Shirt Day for Anti-Bullying takes place on February 26. The focus for 2020 is to “lift each other up.” A good message for every day. Enjoy more time with family and loved ones on Family Day, and have a happy, healthy, hopeful rest of 2020!

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