President’s Message, May 2008

How to celebrate? With poetry, dance, stories, laughter, tears, and resolutions, or simply a glass of champagne! When the Redress Agreement was signed on September 22, 1988, outbursts of various expressions (even tanka verses) of extreme delight and relief were recorded, particularly in Justice in our Time (1991), by Cassandra Kobayashi and Roy Miki, and more concretely in The Japanese Canadian Redress Legacy. A Community Revitalized (2003), by Arthur K. Miki. As we recount those years of struggle toward a `justice in our time’, there is no doubt that the Redress Settlement was the catalyst that revitalized a devastated community. The dam had burst, and Japanese Canadians for the first time felt freed of the burden of guilt and shame, laid upon them by the Government of Canada, as they endured the label of `enemy alien’ forced upon them since 1941. The Acknowledgement condemns the “disenfranchisement, detention, confiscation and sale of private and community property, expulsion, deportation and restriction of movement, which continued after the war” as “influenced by discriminatory attitudes.”

On September 19-21st, 2008, a national celebration will be held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Redress Settlement.

The Celebration is taking place at two Japanese Canadian venues. One is the Vancouver Japanese Language School facility, which had closed during the war years, and re-opened in 1952. A new Japanese Hall was added in 1998. Today the centre flourishes as both community hall and language school, recently celebrating its 80th year since the original structure was built in 1928 (in the heart of pre-War Nihonmachi). Second is the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre, which had its inaugural opening on September 22, 2000. Beautifully designed, it houses the Japanese Canadian National Museum and is flanked by seniors’ facilities, Nikkei Home and New Sakura-So. Both complexes are legacy sites, assisted in their development by NAJC Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation, established in 1989. Each has every right to celebrate with us on this significant occasion.

We have, after months of preparation, produced a 2008 Anniversary website to assist in informing about celebratory activities being planned. Please click here to access the site, where you can access program outlines and the registration form. There is also space for regional activities to be shared. If there are any questions, suggestions, errors or omissions, please let us know. We expect updating of details, so bear with us and visit the site often. Please also take advantage of the Early Bird rate, and note the special student rates.

How to celebrate? Of course, it is up to you but, certainly, there is every reason to celebrate together. As we reap the benefits of resolution and self-confidence, participating fully in Canadian society, we may take this opportunity to remember those who worked hard to achieve Redress for all of us, including the many who are already gone from us, but also not forget that there are in our midst those still struggling for justice.

Note: We would appreciate any private donations particularly toward subsidies for students, and for special equipment costs. All donations may be sent to NAJC, 404B Webb Place, Winnipeg, R3B 3J, and will be acknowledged on web-site. Thank you.

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