The Greater Vancouver Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association (GVJCCA) is a non-profit organization that builds communities, and advocates for social justice primarily for people in Canada of Japanese heritage, and their families. The GVJCCA is the publisher of The Bulletin/Geppo, a journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.

Tents at Bayfarm. Photo courtesy of Nikkei National Museum.

Tents at Bay Farm. Photo courtesy of Nikkei National Museum.


Speaking out about our collective concern about the short timeline for the nominations for Japanese Canadian historical places has been effective. On September 8, 2016, Heritage BC announced an extended deadline to November 30, 2016.

On July 7, 2016, the Province of BC announced a call for nominations for historically significant Japanese Canadian places in British Columbia to be officially recognized. The deadline was set for September 9, 2016. The NAJC and GVJCCA along with other Japanese Canadian groups and individuals were concerned and spoke up about the short timeline. We want to ensure as many people as possible have the opportunity to hear about the call and submit nominations. We have created a Facebook page, JC Sites BC, to provide a forum for discussion and sharing information about the nominations process. We have also set up a document so we can try to track nominations made and in progress. Seeing where there are gaps may encourage people to submit nominations and help each other so that important historical sites are not being missed. Please see the September edition of The Bulletin for more information and JC Sites BC on Facebook.

President Lorene Oikawa

President’s Message September 2016

by Lorene Oikawa

The long, hot days of summer are transitioning into preparation for back-to-school and the routine of fall. We say it every year, but it does seem as if time is flying by.

We were fortunate to have three wonderful, talented summer students, Xavier Bryant, Eleanor Panno, and Nathan Yeo, who put a lot of effort into our summer events such as our wild salmon barbeque and musubi food booth, and community booth at Powell Street Festival. The barbeque is our main fundraiser for the year, and requires a tremendous amount of planning and preparation. In addition to our barbeque, we also had a full schedule of events this summer including the launch of our book, Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence, and the Hiroshima-Vancouver Peace Concert.

Most of the year, we depend upon volunteer help which means our office doesn’t have regular hours. With your donations and support, we are looking to get part-time administrative help. Starting in September, we are very pleased, one of our summer students, Xavier, who was our event coordinator, will be helping us on a limited part-time basis until we can get a permanent position in place.

This summer, we had a new communications summer student position, in addition to our event organizer, and archival assistant, and in that role, Eleanor took a lot of photos and regularly posted to social media. We have some great new photos that we will continue to share throughout the year.

Speaking of new, we hosted the first Hiroshima-Vancouver Peace Concert and welcomed performers from Japan. The concert was well received, and the delegation of 16 were very pleased with the response and our support. There was some talk about making a return trip in a year or two, and if they do return, the GVJCCA would be happy to host again. Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the concert.

The Hiroshima Goodwill Cultural Mission is a group of citizens who organized this whirlwind trip, travelling to Montreal for a concert on Sunday, August 7, which had a simultaneous performance in Hiroshima to share the connection between the sister cities. The next day they hopped on a plane, arriving in Vancouver on August 8, and I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with some members of the delegation. For some, it was their first time to Canada, and unfortunately they did not have much time to see the city, because the concert was the next day, August 9, and then they flew home on August 10.

The concert presented the amazing talents of nationally known Japanese dancers, singers, a koto player, and an Aikido master. By sharing their traditional culture and music, it brought us together, and even if we didn’t understand the language, we understood and appreciated the art and beauty underscoring the message of peace.

Thanks to David Iwaasa for his help including providing some interpretation at the concert, Takeo Yamashiro and the Hiroshima Kenjin-kai for their support, locally based Chibi Taiko for a rousing welcome at the start, speakers, City of Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan for his welcome, Consul General Asako Okai, and former Canadian Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Caron. Thanks to Vancouver Shinpo and The Bulletin / Geppo for the special promotion of the event. Thanks to the facilities staff of the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre for their assistance. A very special thanks to the performers and the delegation leader, Yasumaro Yoshinaka, who also brought messages of peace from the Mayor of Hiroshima.  Thanks also to Katsukuni Tanaka, one of the delegation organizers, who was instrumental in making the connections to make this concert happen.

From the culture of Japan to the culture of Japanese Canadians, the GVJCCA is now helping organize our community on another initiative. In the last Bulletin we provided information from the provincial government announcement calling for nominations of Japanese Canadian historic places, but we didn’t have any other information. We do have one major concern which is the short timeline. The deadline to submit nominations is September 9. A group of Japanese Canadian organizations including the GVJCCA and Japanese Canadian individuals met on August 11 and we shared similar concerns. A letter was quickly drafted outlining our concerns, and sent to Heritage BC.

On August 18, we found out a bit more at an information session with Heritage BC, who has been contracted to do the work, and some government representatives. Individuals from our community, and people who met on August 11, reiterated concerns about the timeline. It was pointed out that because of the racist act of internment, our Japanese Canadian community was forcibly dispersed and many are no longer living in BC, and it will take time to get information to them.

On behalf of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) and the GVJCCA, I also expressed concerns not only about the restrictive timeline, and potential for missing Japanese Canadian voices and important sites, but also about the care and attention given to the language used to describe Japanese Canadians.

In one of the promotional materials, “Japanese community” caught my eye and the eyes of some of our seniors. The omission of “Canadian” brings back bad memories. During World War II, the government labelled Japanese Canadians as enemy aliens, stripping their citizens of their Canadian identity, subjecting children, women, and men to forced removal, dispossession and incarceration. Canadians of Japanese ancestry were not allowed to move back to BC nor vote until four years after the war ended. Our Japanese Canadian ancestors were determined to rebuild and successfully fought for Redress. We must continue their work and not let others use language that removes our citizenship.

A Facebook group, JC Sites BC, has been set up to share information and provide a place where we can post nominations as we hear about them. This informal tracking will help the community to spot any missing important sites. Please also see the media release posted in the Facebook group, in The Bulletin, and on the GVJCCA website. At the time the media release was produced, we received word that the government will be extending the deadline to the fall, but we have not been given a date so it’s best to nominate as many places as possible and as quickly as possible. You can also help by getting the word out. Japanese Canadian history is BC history, and recognition of Japanese Canadian sites is one step towards ensuring the contributions of Japanese Canadians are not forgotten.

Recent News

  • Media Release: Recognition of Japanese Canadian Historic Sites
    Media Release: Recognition of Japanese Canadian Historic Sites

    Recognition of Japanese Canadian Historic Sites ***Heritage BC has extended the nominations deadline to November 30, 2016*** Aug. 22, 2016 For IMMEDIATE RELEASE What historic places in B.C.’s Japanese Canadian history do you feel should be recognized as significant for future generations? The Japanese Canadian community wants your input!On July 7th, Read more →

  • Honouring Our People Book Launch
    Honouring Our People Book Launch

    by Lorene Oikawa It turned out to be a nice day. Sometimes when the weather is too good, it discourages people from attending indoor events. That wasn’t the case with the GVJCCA Honouring Our People book launch. The room was packed with about 60 people including about 15 storytellers and Read more →

  • GVJCCA invites you to the Hiroshima – Vancouver Peace Concert
    GVJCCA invites you to the Hiroshima – Vancouver Peace Concert

    Please join us on Tuesday, August 9, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm for the Hiroshima – Vancouver Peace Concert at Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre 6688 Southoaks, Burnaby, BC, featuring special guests from Japan who will be performing traditional Japanese court music, classical dancing, singing, and a demonstration of Read more →

  • NAJC – GVJCCA In Solidarity with the LGBTQ2 Community
    NAJC – GVJCCA In Solidarity with the LGBTQ2 Community

    As Pride parades and events are underway, many are taking the opportunity to pay tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting. The signs say “never forget” and some list the names of the 49 who lost their lives in the horrific shooting at Latinx Night at the gay nightclub Read more →

HOP-Book-CoverNew Book! 
Honouring Our People: Breaking the Silence


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Publishing monthly since 1958, The Bulletin/Geppo is a bilingual English/Japanese journal of Japanese Canadian community, history & culture.  EXPLORE

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The GVJCCA Human Rights Committee works with and supports the Japanese Canadian community, other human rights groups, and ethno-cultural organizations to promote human rights, and combat racism and discrimination, locally and internationally.  EXPLORE

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This bilingual Japanese/English Human Rights Guide is an online resource for those with questions surrounding rights and freedoms in Canada. EXPLORE

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Japanese Canadian Young Leaders (JCYL) Vancouver is a grassroots youth collective interested in the history, politics, arts, and culture of the Japanese Canadian community. EXPLORE

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Keep up-to-date on upcoming workshops, gatherings and other events. EXPLORE