NAJC President’s Message – November 2018

by Lorene Oikawa

Last month, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the Kamloops community at the Kamloops Japanese Canadian Association (KJCA) 30thAnniversary of the Redress Agreement. Thank you to the KJCA, George Uyeda, and all the volunteers, for organizing the event which included a delicious dinner, entertainment, and a wonderful display on redress which was created and set up by the KJCA Museum & Archives committee.

The committee created placards and ribbons that were reminiscent of the ones carried by the 500 plus Japanese Canadians who gathered in Ottawa on April 14, 1988, and marched to Parliament. The original “Ribbons of Hope” had the names of the Japanese Canadians who were not able to attend, but had donated so others could be there. There were also replicas of the yellow postcards that were part of the campaign to urge the prime minister to resolve “Redress Now.”

The display provided an excellent visual to my talk about the road to Redress, which was achieved because of the work of many including local communities like Kamloops and others across Canada, the support of many allies, and the NAJC leadership. I also noted the bumps in the road and the challenges because not all of our communities were in agreement with seeking financial compensation for individuals.

There are many stories about the activities leading up to Redress and the people who worked on Redress. In this 30thanniversary of Redress, I hope you have been able to participate in the events that have been organized by our communities and also to listen to the stories of those who participated.

Even though we feel like our elders will always be here, unfortunately, it is not the case. Last month, Richard (Dick) Yoshio Nakamura passed. The NAJC sends our deepest condolences to his family. He grew up in Surrey, BC, where his family farmed strawberries until the forced uprooting and internment in 1942. Mr. Nakamura served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Navy, militia, and both the Canadian and British Columbian public service. He was the recipient of many awards including Honorary Citizen of the City of Victoria. Our common regret is that we were not able to hear the stories of those who passed. I would have liked to hear about his growing up in Surrey since I did a project about the stories of Japanese Canadians and their families in Surrey.

Please take every opportunity to find out about your family and their journey, and the history of Japanese Canadians in Canada. We all need to ensure our stories are preserved, and that our voices are truly represented when our stories are shared with a broader audience.

One of my goals is to connect with the member organizations and to hear about what is happening in communities across Canada. We also want to share information especially about your events so make sure to keep the NAJC in the loop and send photos which may be used on our website and social media.

I was pleased to participate in the filming of Historica Canada’s heritage minute about the Vancouver Asahi. My grandfather was a pitcher with the Vancouver Asahi so it had special meaning for me and I found out from one young performer that his grandfather also played for the Asahi. We were standing together along with others pretending to watch a Vancouver Asahi baseball game. We wore period clothes and cheered when the Asahi scored. The heritage minute will air sometime in 2019 and when the airdate is confirmed we will post the information.

Another event that we are looking forward to, is the 20thbiennial COPANI which will be held in San Francisco next year. BF September 20-22, 2019 in your calendars. COPANI is a Pan American Nikkei Convention (derived from the Spanish name, Convención PanamericanaNikkei)and it is held every two years in a member country of the Pan American Nikkei Association (PANA). The last time COPANI was held in the United States was in New York City in 2001. Last year, in 2017, COPANI was held in Lima, Peru. It’s a unique opportunity to connect with Japanese Americans and Japanese South Americans. We’ll post more information when it becomes available.

On November 11, Remembrance Day, please take a minute to remember Japanese Canadians and all who fought for Canada staring with World War I. In 1915 when the First World War started, Japanese Canadians faced racism in this country. They did not have the right to vote, and were not allowed to enlist at the recruiting office in British Columbia. I will be placing a wreath on behalf of the NAJC at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park in Vancouver. At the reception following the ceremony we will commemorate the centenary of the armistice of the First World War which took place in 1918, and the 65thanniversary of the armistice of the Korean War in 1953. Lest we forget.

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