President’s Message, October 2010

Terumi Kuwada, President of the NAJC

On September 22, 1988, the Government of Canada formally apologized to the Japanese Canadian community for the injustices and wrongdoings inflicted upon our community during World War II. It was a time of great celebration for democracy, social justice and human rights for all Canadians. Today, 22 years later, we have much to celebrate in our communities. Japanese Canadian Cultural Centres, many built with the assistance of the Japanese Canadian Redress Foundation have become the centre of activities for the community. Here, people of all ages gather in fellowship, Japanese Language classes are taught, arts and cultural classes abound,  martial arts programs are filled with enthusiastic students, amongst so many community activities.

Unfortunately, the fight for social justice and human rights is never ending. The NAJC is committed to striving “for equal rights and liberties for all persons-in particular, the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.” The NAJC Human Rights Committee (HRC) has, as one of their projects, a report regarding “Discover Canada”, which is a study guide for new immigrants wishing to apply for citizenship. The HRC will be shortly submitting their report to the Government, outlining their comments and recommendations for change.

Earlier in the year, the NAJC agreed to participate in a leadership training program with the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute (CMLI). One of the main objectives of the program is to develop leadership skills in their youth, so that they can contribute to a stronger and more unified Canada.  Three other ethnic organizations (Mennonite, Caribbean and Aboriginal) as well as the NAJC, have agreed to the next stage of the training program, which will involve participation of young people from our respective communities.

Recently, in a fund raising event for the Pakistan Flood, sponsored by the Islamic Social Services of Canada, a local politician spoke to the audience about the fear that many have of the Muslim community. She spoke eloquently when she said, “ I stand here in support of you, not in fear of you”. The audience was a true cross section of the cultural mix of Winnipeg and one of the organizers affirmed that she always knew that Winnipeggers had a “soul.”  I for one am proud to be a Winnipegger.

The National Executive Board held a teleconference recently, in preparation of the NAJC AGM in Ottawa on October 16-17/2010. Finances and budgetary matters continue to be a priority to the NEB, regarding the Operations of the organization. We are committed to honouring the original agreement related to the Endowment Fund allocations and will continue to invite applications from the many talented and capable applicants in our communities.

I look forward to meeting with all the delegates from the member organizations at the AGM in Ottawa!

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