NAJC President’s Message – January 2021

by Lorene Oikawa

Happy New Year from the National Executive Board of the National Association of Japanese Canadians! 

あけましておめでとうございます akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. 

New Year’s is an opportunity to share in the traditional Japanese foods, learn more about our culture and family traditions, and connect with family, loved ones, and friends. Many of us took to online meetings and phone calls to avoid in-person gatherings for the safety of everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic invaded our lives last year and challenged us to the extreme. We were all pleased to see the end of 2020 and the start of vaccinations. 

With 2021, we have hope for a healthy and safe year. It is going to take some time for most to be vaccinated so in the meantime, we need to keep wearing masks, wash our hands, avoid gathering, and continue to follow safety protocols. 

To find out about the vaccination plans for your province or territory go to their websites or to the government of Canada Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines page on their website and you can find the links.

At our December membership meeting, we learned about the great work that has been happening at our member organizations across Canada. In-person gatherings such as dinners, festivals and fundraisers were cancelled because of the pandemic. Some did virtual online versions of their events. Most are also looking at doing other new online programming. Some of the programming includes language classes, presentations on Japanese Canadian history, talks with Japanese Canadian authors, cooking classes, and discussions on human rights and anti-racism. Some are reviewing internal administrative processes, and looking at updating tools and websites. They are looking at the needs of their communities and building on connections with younger generations, immigrant Japanese and Japanese Canadians, and Indigenous and cultural communities. If you have an interest in any of these areas, connect with your local NAJC member organization, they are always interested in volunteers. You don’t have to join a board to get involved. Contact information for member organizations is listed on the NAJC website.

The NAJC is also looking at continuing with our online programming and we also list other online programming of interest from our member organizations and other Japanese Canadian organizations on our website.

We also support the development of educational, social, cultural activities and programs that contribute to greater understanding and the wellbeing of the Japanese Canadian community and the promotion of human rights. One way we do this is through the administration of the NAJC Endowment Fund. Usually we accept applications for funding by March 31 each year. Last year because of the uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic we pushed the application date to June 30. The Endowment Fund Committee will be discussing plans for 2021 during January and then posting the new information on the NAJC website.

We also provide other support. For example, we provide financial support to our member organizations for capacity building through the Community Development Fund. The NAJC Young Leaders Committee administers the Young Leaders Fund. 

Our immediate tasks for this year include working on the call for nominations to our board. We have two positions, secretary and director, which will be filled by a by-election this year. We will also be continuing our work on BC Redress.

Next year, we will be celebrating 75 years of the National Association of Japanese Canadians. In 1947, when the National Association was founded, the focus was on rebuilding and strengthening the Japanese Canadian community and human rights. Our focus continues on community development and human rights. We work for the present with an eye to the future and always an eye to the past. We must remember and share the stories of our ancestors. It is reminiscent of the Japanese proverb. 昔は今の鏡 mukashi wa ima no kagami. The past is the mirror of today.

Updates and news are posted on our website, and sign up for our e-news so that you find out about the new information and when it is posted to our website. You can subscribe here.

This is the year of the ox, ushi. Japanese follow the Gregorian calendar, a solar calendar, and also follow the 12 animal zodiac, in order, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar. We hope this year will have some attributes of the ox, and that we will have a strong, dependable year. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe 2021!  


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