NAJC President’s Message – May 2021

by Lorene Oikawa

Welcome to May, warmer weather and the beautiful Sakura, Japanese cherry blossom season is making its way across Canada. 

The National Executive Board has been very busy and we have some progress to report. This month’s president’s message will highlight a number of the announcements which you will see in publications such as The Bulletin and Nikkei Voice, and also on our website, social media, and in our newsletters.

The National Association of Japanese Canadians, since its inception in 1947, has focused on the needs and concerns of the Japanese Canadian community including our work on addressing racial discrimination so that we have a safe, inclusive society for all.

Our work today includes ensuring that the history of the Japanese Canadian community is preserved and shared to prevent future injustices. We also remember we have Japanese Canadian survivors who are living today and they deserve the respect and supports they were once denied. 

One of our announcements is that Nikkei Seniors Health Care & Housing is receiving a BC government grant which will benefit Japanese Canadian survivors who were directly impacted by the actions of the 1942-1949 BC government. Seniors health and wellness is one area that has been researched and developed as a recommendation by the NAJC. Read more about how this grant came to fruition in BC Redress Project Director Susanne Tabata’s article.

Another announcement is the agreement reached by the Anglican Church of Canada and the NAJC to provide healing support to Japanese Canadians affected by the actions of Mr. G. G. Nakayama, a former Anglican priest from 1934 to 1994, who sexually abused Japanese Canadian boys. Please read the joint statement. Also, the Japanese Canadian Working Group will be holding a meeting on June 26, 2021 to introduce the Anglican Healing Fund. See the meeting notice for details. 

As this president’s message was about to be submitted, we received word that the NAJC has received approval for Canada Summer Jobs funding. We have a 10 week full-time contract position for a NAJC office administrator position. Responsibilities will include communications and social media administration. This is an exciting opportunity to work and learn with a national non-profit organization and contribute to our work for the Japanese Canadian community. Applicants must be between 15 and 30 years of age (inclusive) at the start of employment as required under the Canada Summer Jobs program and must be a Canadian citizen or Permanent Resident of Canada. We expect the position to start in May or June 2021. For more information please go to the full posting at 

May is also Asian Heritage Month, our annual celebration of our Japanese heritage, and our Japanese Canadian traditions and our community. For our health and safety, many of the events will continue to be virtual. This opens up the opportunity to have a national audience join in the enriching discussions. 

NAJC Young Leaders Committee Chair Stephane Hamade advises that there will be a Young Leaders Trivia Night on May 16. More information will be posted on this fun and social evening.  

On May 21, Re-Discover the Stories of Japanese Canadians in Surrey. This is a follow up to a community event that was held in Surrey in 2017. We are providing this opportunity for you to hear and share the stories of Japanese Canadian family pioneers in Surrey. Please join us. 5pm PDT | 

6 pm MDT | 7pm CDT | 8pm EDT Pre-register at 

Please check out our Online Programs section as new sessions continue to be added.

We also have some deadlines coming up. 

The deadline for the nomination for the NAJC Dr. Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Award is June 30, 2021. Dr. Hirabayashi is widely respected for his courage and leadership in Canada and the USA. In 1942, when he was a college student he deliberately violated the curfew imposed upon Japanese Americans and officially challenged the government order on the grounds that it violated his constitutional rights. For more information about the award go to our website.   

The deadline to apply for the NAJC Endowment Fund grant is June 30, 2021. The NAJC Endowment Fund grants are available to organizations, groups and individuals to help develop Japanese Canadian culture, and support the athletic, artistic, and academic talents of Japanese Canadians. Information about the fund, application forms and other resources such as Frequently Asked Questions are posted on the NAJC website 

Please sign up to our NAJC e-news so that you receive updated information about our events and opportunities and news. Sign up. Also, follow our social media Facebook | Twitter | and our new Instagram.

One last reminder is that the Census 2021 starts in May. The last census was in 2016. The data collected helps inform policy being made at all levels of government and is an important tool for good evidence-based decision making by all groups. At a meeting held with Statistics Canada last month, I presented the Japanese Canadian perspective along with other Asian Canadian community leaders who highlighted their groups’ perspectives. We emphasized the need for disaggregated data to ensure our communities are reflected and to help us in the fight against racism. Too often our lived experience, Asian Canadian stories are not included or silenced. Our stories must be heard to ensure an equitable and inclusive society.  


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